Saturday, January 31, 2015

Children's Leaders Conference

Alex's House hosted a three day Children's Leaders Conference led by Hope Community
Church(Kentucky) in January.  Over 50 Haitian workers and pastors from our partnering churches attended the training.  The team of ten workers from Hope Community Church have a combined total of 192 years working with children!  They used their experiences in ministry to develop a conference focused on  the why of teaching children, the how of practical methods and the importance of prayer in ministry.

Each day a variety of sessions including teaching, small group challenges, discussion questions, worship and demonstrations were presented.  Teaching sessions focused on why it is important to teach children, the differences in teaching children and adults, how to use objects from your surroundings to enhance teaching and different methods for conveying a message.

Attendees were split into groups and given different passages that teach about the importance of children.  Discussion prompts directed them to look at how children were involved in the scripture and what that says about the importance of children.  After studying the passage in their small groups, they presented the meaning of the passage to the large group.  Attendees took the studying very seriously and had great insight to share with the group.

A presenter spoke on the differences in teaching children versus adults.  This lesson was one that really resounded with the pastors and leaders.  In a follow-up discussion with Pastor Frito of Pierre Payen, he told Conference Director Steve Haddix that he had been teaching his children as if they were adults.  From the conference, he learned children cannot learn in the same way as adults.  He plans to get volunteers from his church to teach children separately now on Sunday mornings.

One of the challenges given to teams included giving each group items collected around the York House yard to create bugs.  This demonstration taught participants to think outside the box for items they already have available  to create crafts, teaching props, etc.

For one session, Hope member Ricky Hall taught the story of David and Goliath in costume as if he were David.  He showed the group how interactive storytelling captures the audience and helps them to grasp the concept better than simply standing in one place reciting a lesson.
The group gave examples of how to teach through music using hand motions, reading a story from a book using character voices and having children involved in a skit.  After the session, groups were given a story prompt and had to come up with the best method to share the story with a group.  They first had to identify the main point of the story and then tell how to best teach it.  Several groups said a skit was the best teaching method while another used finger puppets to demonstrate their main point.

Conference Director Steve Haddix said he was uncertain of the reception his team would receive going into the conference.  Would the methods used in US to teach children translate cross- culturally?  At the conclusion of the three day conference he was blown away with the level of participation by attendees. He had several post conference discussions with pastors who were eager to implement the teaching methods they learned.

Alex's House extends a huge thank you to the members of Hope Community Church who spent many hours prepping for the conference!  We pray that the training will impact many children in Haiti for the gospel.