3 things I’m taking away from the Hand in Hand conference
Last weekend, I was able to make a trip down to sunny Eastbourne to attend Hand in Hand, a conference for anyone involved in ministry with children and families. It’s been going for around 25 years and seeks to inspire and equip people in both voluntary and paid roles by presenting resources, creating opportunities to network and space for personal refreshment.
This was my first time attending in person – I had only joined the online version in lockdown before. Here are 3 things that I’m taking away from Hand in Hand (not an exhaustive list!):
1. Think about additional needs, in everything
What I loved about Hand in Hand is that in most sessions, they would have at least two people sharing on the topic. One of the people who shared in several of the seminars I went to was Kay Morgan-Gurr, a leading voice on how we should be including those with additional needs and disabilities into our church lives.
In seminars on mentoring, milestones and connecting with God, Kay talked about how we can support children with additional needs and disabilities in these things. So often at these conferences there is one seminar on being inclusive, but this weekend it was integrated through lots of different topics, as it should be! I found this challenging and refreshing.
How are we thinking about additional needs not on its own, but as part of everything we’re doing?
2. Let’s be a symphonic church
I’m a visual thinker and I’ve always found the picture in 1 Corinthians 12 of the body of Christ really helpful in thinking about how the church can work together for the glory of God. In a main session talking about becoming an intergenerational church, Gareth Crispin, a lecturer at Cliff College, put a different metaphor to the body of Christ – that of a symphony orchestra.
He defined intergenerational church as a space where every age is interacting and learning from each other, not just one person talking to multiple generations (that’s multi-generational church). What if we imagined that interaction and learning as a symphony orchestra, with all its different sections and instruments playing a beautiful piece of music together?
If we use that image, how are we encouraging and releasing children and young people to play their instrument, bringing what is uniquely theirs to the piece?
3. Find like-minded people to encourage you
It’s always fun to catch up with old friends and make news ones at these events. I loved meeting new people and hear what ministry in their context looks like. The world of children and youth ministry is often a unique and sometimes isolating space. Finding others you can share (both the good and not-so-good) with, is invaluable.
Across the two days, I was reminded of the importance of finding people you can share with, be encouraged by and pray with. The people who get it, who you don’t have to explain everything to. Have you got those people in your life? If not, how could you connect with people in other local churches, or across the diocese? We run training events sometimes and those are great opportunities to meet others.
It was a privilege to be at the conference to learn, be encouraged and challenged. If you’d like to find out more about Hand in Hand you can see all the information about the conference and other things they do on their website.
If you’re in need of support or encouragement in your church, let’s grab a coffee and I can share more with you! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more about children and youth support here.
Katie is the Children’s Ministry Support worker and BLMF Apprenticeship Scheme Coordinator for the Diocese of London. She has been involved in Children and families ministry for most of the last 15 years in various forms, from volunteer to intern and degree placement student to full time children and families minister. She loves connecting with children’s minsters across London and helping the diocese think more about how we can best support children and families ministry across the diocese.
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