The Live Blog for LOCAL, A Children’s Ministry Collaborative: Gathering One

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Hey everyone! Welcome to the live blog for the LOCAL Children’s Ministry Collaborative Conference in downtown Chicago! Today I will be blogging about the conference as the day progresses. I will have three different blog posts for the three different “sections” of the day, which will each include a speaker, a lab, and a talk back session. Additionally, there will be a special Giveaways blog post, which will include online giveaways from Awana, What’s In the Bible, KidminTools, and more! (Everyone can enter, whether you are in Chicago or not!) Each post will be updated regularly throughout the day, so make sure to come back and see what is happening!

What other cool things will be happening today? There will be a video of the history of Kidmin in Chicago, video clips of the speakers (Amy Dolan, Matt Guevara, and Phil Vischer), notes from every session, and cool pictures of the awesome children’s ministry leaders that will be here! In fact, there will be more than 100 kidmin leaders from the Chicago area here today! We’re totally excited, and I know you are too. Let’s do this!

Introduction, by Amy Dolan:

Amy DolanHow did LOCAL start? Amy Dolan, the LOCAL director, first saw a collaborative conference in a city in Florida. Six kidmin leaders joined together to spearhead this awesome event, and it inspired Amy to plan a conference just like it! After the conference, eleven kidmin leaders prayed for Amy that she would be able to start something like that. Amy came back to Chicago to run the idea past Matt Guevara. He said “Yes!!!’ Next, they asked eight children’s ministry leaders in Chicago to join her in planning this event. They then formed the LOCAL CORE team. Well, the rest is history!

The purpose of this event is to bring together children’s ministry leaders from around Chicago to join together and learn together. Not only will we hear from speakers, but we will also be discussing the topics and collaborating together on how to apply them in our ministries.

Worship Time: Holy, Holy, Holy. He is so worthy of our praise.  “Only thou art holy, there is none beside thee, perfect in power, love and purity.” If you are following online, would you consider singing this song of worship as well?

Video: The history of children’s ministry in Chicago. Coming soon!

Here is a sneak peak of a few awesome kidmin things in the video, each started in Chicago!

  •  A 21 year-old D. L. Moody starts the first Sunday School ministry in Chicago
  • David C. Cook begins printing Sunday school materials in 1864
  • In the 1930‘s, several new children’s ministries–Brigade, Pioneer Clubs, and Child Evangelism Fellowship–all launch with the dream of serving the children of Chicago.
  • Awana is founded in 1941 after a senior and youth pastor create a successful model of ministry to children that comes into high demand from other churches.
  • Willow Creek starts the large-group small-group model.
  • VeggieTales utilizes video to reach children through media.
  • and more!

Gathering One Notes: Amy Dolan on Why Children’s Ministry?

A Snapshot of Children in Our Communities

Amy Speaking to LOCAL Session #1CHILD POPULATION (2010)

  • Chicago: 621,000 (W: 16%, B: 37%, L: 40%, A: 3%)
  • Suburban Cook: 610,000 (W: 44%, B: 19%, L: 27%, A: 6%)
  • Collar Counties (DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will): 850,000

(W: 58%, B: 7%, L: 25%, A: 6%)


  • Children living w/Married Couple: 63%
  • Single Mother: 19%
  • Other Relative: 10%
  • Single Father: 5%
  • Non-Relative: 1%


  • Median Income for Families with children 2011:
    • Married Couple Households: $85,000
    • Single Father Households: $37,000
    • Single Mother Households: $24,000
  • In 2011, the child poverty rate rose to 21% in 2011

(The Federal Poverty Level in 2011 was $18,123 for a family of three with 2 children and $22,811 for a family of four with 2 children)


  • Gathering One2012: 81,000 pre-K children participate in state funded pre-k programs
  • 2011-2012: 49% of public school students were from low-income families
  • 2010-2011: 39,000 students enrolled in public schools were homeless
  • 2011-2012: Latino students represented 24% of public school enrollment
  • 2010-2011: 300,000 children received special education services
  • The financing and equity of our public school system consistently ranks at nearly the bottom of all states


  • 31% of all births are teen mothers under the age of 18
  • 63% of Illinois children live in two-parent households
  • 2010: 790,000 Illinois children were in immigrant families, nearly twice the number as 1990.


  • 2012: 15,000 Children were in substitute care (a foster family home, group home or institution, the temporary placement of children outside their homes due to abuse, neglect, or dependency)
  • 2012: 28,000 cases proved enough evidence for DCFS to confirm that child abuse and neglect had occurred
  • 2010: More than 2,000 youths were committed to Department of Justice Juvenile facilities, of those, more than ½ had never attended high school
  • One in five children in Illinois has a diagnosable mental illness
  • 2011: 3% of Illinois children lacked health insurance coverage, compared to 7% nationwide

Source: Voices 4 Kids Illinois Kids Count 2013 Report

Lab One:

Questions for groups:

  • _MG_1967What stuck out to you about the history of Children’s Ministry in Chicago?
  • Which part of history do you most identify with, and why?
  • What surprised you about the Child Family Demographics? (Child Population, Household Living Arrangements, Family Income, Schools, Family Types, Child Welfare)
  • How do you see these statistics represented in your church?
  • What could your ministry do to specifically address the needs of children and families in your community?
  • Where do you sense your passion, skills, gifts lining up with the needs of children and families in your community?
  • What will be your legacy? (Quiet reflection: Write out 1-2 sentences)

TalkBack One:


  • What are the unique needs of your community?
  • What gifts do you have to offer your community?
  • What will be your legacy? (Summarized in 1-2 sentences)

Here is some feedback from the Talkback Groups.

The City:

  • Are we identifying the children in our ministries that have disabilities or special needs?
  • _MG_2043Definitely enjoyed seeing the history of kidmin in Chicago. Even though past leaders didn’t have the resources we have today, they had the heart that many of us have for the Chicago of today. Our group celebrated together that we have the love of Christ in our hearts to share with others.
  • One of the things that our group talked about was getting out and getting to know our neighborhoods. Our neighborhoods are so diverse! We are working in an area with a low SES (social economic status), and we need to be aware how to ministry to them.
  • Matt Guevara is sharing how he did a study of families in the area around his church (Christ Community Church in Bartlett, IL) and found out that most of the families had two parents who were married! What a rarity in Chicago. His church got this information from a Percept Group survey.
  • Networked with a local school that was about to be shut down. We helped advocate for them and decided to help the children in that school raise their test scores by sending in our church members to read with them.

North, South & West:

  • How do we, as ministry leaders, reconcile different racial differences to reach out to other and bridge the gaps between neighborhoods in Chicago? It has to start with conversations with each other, going in to learn from each other (NOT expecting them to come to your church, but just making friends). Then, if we do that, maybe we can start to get kids onboard with this same idea.
  • We need to be willing to “rock the boat” like D.L. Moody did in his day and reach out to kids. It is completely essential that we know both the children’s names and the parent’s names (of those children) in our ministry.
  • “We talked alot about the Taj Mahal. Just kidding, we wanted to see (the live artist) draw it.” 🙂
  • The statistics shared were just completely overwhelming. It’s not my job to fix everything, but to honor God by ministering to the people God puts in front of me. That is my responsibility.
  • “Every parent wants to be a good parent, but they don’t always know how.” A leader describes ways that his church reaches out to parents.

“My life goal? To make people my priority.”

(Note: each statement is being quoted loosely from LOCAL leaders)

Pics of lunch with the different groups: WMN in Chicago writers and the guys from Entrusted!


  • That’s a great snapshot of Chicago children and communities. Perhaps we should encourage more people to come up with similar snapshots of other major metropolitan areas.

  • Tassie green

    We had a great tAlk about transformation over lunch ,and what it looks like when the stakes are so high.