North Carolina West District recently held its first Huddle event in eight years. Held on February 24 at First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis, N.C., the Huddle is a children’s ministry training event that brings together children’s pastors and lay children’s workers for a time of training, encouragement and networking.  Approximately 70 people from 16 churches attended the event, which was led by a team of children’s pastors.

The day was filled with times of worship, games and discussion about leading children to Jesus and discipling them as they grow. Breakout sessions included a variety of topics, such as servant leadership, partnering with parents, training volunteers, celebrating milestones with children and families, safety and security issues, using technology in kids’ ministry and more.

A group of district teenagers served at the event, specifically teens who have sensed a call into full-time occupational ministry.

“We came looking for fresh ideas for our children’s ministry,” said Anita Yelton of First Wesleyan Church in Forest City. “We found great ideas, encouragement and practical tips. We left with a fresh fire to disciple the children God has placed in our care.”

“I brought our volunteers to the Huddle partly because I hoped that they would gain some helpful information, but mostly because I hoped that it would encourage and inspire them in their ministries,” said Rev. Joy Garman, assistant pastor of Bethel Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis. “It did all that. Our volunteers don’t get many opportunities to be surrounded by other people passionate about children’s ministry, so I think it helped them understand in a bigger way that what they do is important and they are not alone.”

“The joy and excitement in the room during our main sessions was very contagious,” said Rev. Selina Wheeler, district children’s ministries’ director. “You couldn’t be in that place and not get a fresh excitement for ministering to the next generation.”

Wheeler was reminded of one important truth when it comes to children’s ministry.

“We’re all in this together — called to serve one God, with one purpose, toward one goal. The message of the day challenged everyone to remain dedicated to the call from God to pour into the next generation.”

“These gatherings allow our kid’s ministry pastors and lay leaders a chance to grow both in relationships and skills,” said Rev. Zach Coffin, Next Gen director for The Wesleyan Church. “By taking the time to invest in each other, they dream together, encourage another, pray and problem solve. It’s a great chance to learn something new and allow our souls to be filled up as we continue to empower the next generation to be disciple makers and kingdom multiplies in their homes and schools now. We don’t want to wait. We want to see kids and students bringing the culture of heaven to their schools, families and homes now.”

Pictured, left to right: Rev. Elizabeth Covington (children’s pastor, Hayworth Wesleyan Church in High Point), Doreen Garmon (children’s pastor, Shady Grove Wesleyan Church in Colfax), Rev. Selina Wheeler (NextGen pastor, First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis and district director of Children’s Ministries), Rev. Kaylee Wilkerson (children’s pastor, New Covenant Wesleyan Church in Greensboro) and Kelsey Smith (children’s pastor, McAdenville Wesleyan Church in McAdenville).