“The speakers were incredible. My whole church should have heard each one – they were talking about things that are so important.” – Children’s Ministry Director
“Thanks so much for all that was poured into us!” – Church Staff Pastor
At the Second Annual Church-School Partnership Leader Equipping Summit, leaders and volunteers from 18 churches and 4 Christian non-profits came together to be inspired and equipped in how to be most effective in strengthening families in our community. The attendance was doubled from last year, and 80% of attendees were new this year. These key leaders represented churches totaling at least 15,000 believers in the Greater Little Rock area.
Dr. Fitz Hill, Outreach Director at New Life Church Downtown, was the opening speaker and shared alarming information about the reality of the crisis of gun violence in Little Rock. He shared how and why the Church is the best answer for making a difference in connecting with young men through informed, best practices in church-school partnerships, sports outreach, and mentoring. He pointed out, “There is zero traffic in Little Rock on a Sunday morning. To be transformational, we have to engage the Church outside of church walls.”
Throughout the morning, several church and non-profit leaders shared stories of success and life transformation through connecting with families in their church-school partnerships and mentoring efforts. The national growth director from Kids Hope USA, an organization that provides nationally-accredited training tools for churches in elementary school mentoring, prepared a special workshop for attendees. There were breakout sessions on: Starting Your New Church School Partnership; Creating a Monthly Church-School Family Connection Dinner Program; Kids Hope Elementary Mentoring; and Lessons for Life Middle School Mentoring.
During a working lunch, church teams made plans for the next school year, and highlights from those plans were shared in the main session. Pastor Milton Graham of Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church closed the day with an inspiring message on the importance of family – both biological and the wrap-around family of a church.
A highlight of the summit was seeing the Body of Christ UNITED and WORKING TOGETHER from various churches, denominations, ethnicities, and all along the political spectrum. It was truly inspiring to see everyone focused on how to transform our community by coming alongside struggling students and their families.
Everyone expressed as they left that they were encouraged about growing their church-school partnership with a renewed sense of urgency. Since then, meetings have been taking place to launch Kids Hope elementary mentoring programs throughout Little Rock. Plus, all are considering how to deepen partnerships with long-term relational connections with teachers, students, and families.
Key elements of the summit were captured via video and digital copies of handouts are available. If you are interested in getting any of those resources, please contact Mary Carol Pederson, Vital Families in Schools Team Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org.