I really enjoyed the Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry Conference (PDCM) at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The conference spanned two and a half days with an optional pre-conference day. The format of this year’s PDCM Conference consisted of ten general sessions with your choice of lunch breakouts with Saddleback Staff members. The general session topics included: Examine, Execute, Educate & Evaluate, Equip, Enlist, Engage, Empower, Evolve, and Encourage. Steve Adams, Saddlebacks Children’s Pastor of the past 1 1/2 years, spoke at most of the sessions, though they also included key members of the Saddleback Children’s Ministry Team, Saddleback Youth Pastors, and local CM Pastors. It was so impressive to hear about how they make children’s ministry happen for 3,000 kids attending each week, but it was even more impressive to just interact with their very capable, yet humble staff. In fact, two of the most impacting experiences I had at this conference didn’t happen during a session. They were actually watching their youth perform on stage, and a staff member sharing her heart.
Various youth worship teams from Saddleback, led us in song prior to most of the sessions. It was amazing to watch these small groups of teenagers sing and dance with all their hearts. It was inspiring. Even more so to know that most of the kids singing on stage had grown up at Saddleback, had served at Saddleback, and had taken God’s message to others on global mission trips. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to experience their contagious enthusiasm for Jesus. It was truly a picture of what Children’s Ministry should be – raising up fully devoted disciples of Christ!
The other positive experience happened when I was walking and talking with a Saddleback staffer named Becky. I had just eaten lunch with Becky and other leaders and discussed regional ministry or multi site ministry. We all had opportunity to share our successes and horror stories. After the lunch was over, I commented to Becky how blown away I was by the humble and gracious attitude that is common among the Saddleback staff. She simply said, “We make God a big deal, and try not to take ourselves too seriously”. What awesome advice! That one simple phrase was worth going to California for, because watching them live it out has cemented it in my mind as a personal aspiration. Thank you God for putting up with us when we get to thinking we’re a big deal!! It’s you who deserves all the glory.
PS – I should also note that my team and I got a ton of great ideas and resources from the conference. We’re going to avoid the temptation to immediately implement a million new things, but we definitely saw ways that we can be more effective for the kingdom. Totally worth the trip!