Keeping Community: Kidmin conference connects leaders online


“I can do it by mine self!” This was a phrase I repeated often as a child. A toddler doing everything on their own is painfully hard to watch, especially when you’re rushing out the door. But it is crucial for their development and they do end up becoming independent and resourceful. We applaud them when they no longer need help to tie their shoes, prepare their lunches, or make their bed. We encourage self sufficiency.

Is self sufficiency a good thing? Of course. But one of the many lessons Covid is teaching us is that we don’t thrive when we are on our own. We need to belong to a community. 

The importance  of connection

There are countless instances in the Bible that highlight the importance of connecting, belonging, supporting and caring for one another. That includes time spent with children at home or in ministry settings.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor,” writes the author of Ecclesiastes. “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Yes, I am still guilty of the “I can do it by mine self” moments. But when I look back on my ministry, the most incredible moments are those shared with people, not of me doing it on my own. 

Pivot and connect

I’ll be honest. When Covid first hit, I was content with sticking close to home. Then the weeks turned into months and the months turned into seasons. I miss connections with my ministry kids and the camaraderie with volunteers. I worry about next fall and what the programs might look like.

I’m sure I’m not alone with these worries. They swirl around us with each policy change and I would be very happy if the word ‘pivot’ was banned for a while! 

But then I’m reminded that just because we can’t be together in person yet, there are ways to connect and build community.

Five years ago, a group of children’s ministry workers in Manitoba launched a big undertaking: the Awesome KidMin Conference. The idea was to provide quality training that would equip, encourage and empower those serving in children’s ministry.

In 2020, close to 400 people were set to attend the in-person conference. Then Covid hit, shutting everything down the DAY of the conference! Conference organizers “pivoted” (there’s that word again) and quickly put speaker videos online. This year the conference is specifically designed in a brand new online format; because it’s virtual, attendees can join in from anywhere!

WATCH: “Beyond Being Good: sharing the Gospel with children,” a presentation by One Hope Canada at the 2020 Awesome KidMin Conference.

Over the past year, the Awesome Kidmin planning team has been working hard to create an exceptional conference that tackles the hard questions but also has tools to equip children’s ministry leaders for the road ahead. “Still Anchored: Awesome KidMin Conference 2021” goes live March 12-13. Plans are in the works to develop even more resources in the months to follow.

We serve a God who is mighty in every way. It is good to be reminded of that and to gain knowledge and insight on how to move forward. It’s okay to mourn what was. I know I have. But I am also eager for a new chapter to begin. I invite you to AKC2021 to see how it can help you write a new chapter as well! 


Heidi Schartner is the Children’s Ministry Leader at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, MB, and is a member of the Awesome KidMin Conference planning team.  Visit or follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@awesomekidmin).

One Hope Canada

Sharing the love of Jesus with children and youth through Bible camps, community ministries, digital ministry, and training resources.