Today, I’m excited to share with you an interview I did with E.C. Cunningham. With more than 23 years of experience in children’s and youth ministry, E.C. is the Downtown Campus Pastor at Lake Hills Church in Austin, Texas. He consults for churches and conferences in the area of leadership and children’s ministry development.
I can’t say enough good things about E.C. He’s a great guy with a lot of great wisdom. I talked to him about his presentations at Group’s KidMin Conference and what people can expect.
Tell a little bit about yourself…what got you into children’s ministry?
I started volunteering in ministry in middle school and through high school in both youth ministry and music. In the fall of 1989 at 19 years old, I felt a call in preaching, teaching and music ministry. I told my Pastor’s wife that I was called to ministry and “…I know it is supposed to be given back to kids.” A year later I was asked to join our church launch of the AWANA ministry. I was trained and began doing children’s and youth ministry. I was part time staff in the music department. Eight years later after joining Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, I became the Administrative Assistant to the Music Ministry and Children’s Minister of Music. When it was found out that I was a preacher, I filled in for the Children’s Pastor when he was gone. And with some significant ministerial staff changes, I became the Children’s Pastor at Salem in September 2000.
You’ll be presenting a half-track on the pastor part of being a children’s pastor. What are some common struggles people meet with when shepherding children and families?
From my experiences of shepherding children and families and talking with others, some of the common struggles are the complexities of counseling. For example: So parents have differences on family discipline. Each adult has a different background, and therefore children get different signals on expectations. There is also counseling blended families or kids of divorced parents. These are just examples of trying to meet the needs within the complexities of counseling.
There is also the idea of respect amongst peers, staff members or from Senior Pastors. And having to shepherd those families that you work with. (That is a whole different set of Pastoring issues….R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to me…I know you didn’t ask that… but I felt the need to sing.)
You’re also presenting a workshop for people in their first two years of ministry. Without giving everything away, can you share something to help those new to ministry struggling to stay afloat?
If you are in your first two years of children’s ministry, one of the first and most important things to understand is: KNOWING YOU ARE CALLED. Jesus did not have a sign-up table in the lobby of the temple with signs reading “DISCIPLES NEEDED.” You never heard of Him asking for the mic during Sabbath service so He could make an announcement for ministry workers. He had no bulletins or flyers for volunteers. He simply said: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” That just got me fired up…Whooo Hoooo… I’m ready now!!! LOL
What would you tell someone who’s never been to Group’s KidMin Conference before? What can they expect?
Group’s KidMin Conference is a conference to grow in knowledge but also relationships. It is the only conference where I have seen the intentionality of the conference presenters and speakers and team spending REAL time with the attendees. Everyone is a REAL person. I have stayed after a session and have seen others stay with people in their session and pray and give specific advice. For the most part, you have access to everyone to talk about almost anything. And it is MEGA FUN!!!
Thanks to E.C. for letting me interview him. Again, E.C. will be one of the many presenters at Group’s KidMin Conference. E.C., along with the other presenters, will be open for you to share lunch or coffee with or to pick their brains. Register today and save up to $40 per person, and get a free pre-conference session!