The ETCH Family Ministry Conference


This past October, I attended the ETCH conference in Nashville Tennessee. It was my first time. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t before going), ETCH stands for Equipping The Church and Home. It is a conference for children’s, youth, and family ministry workers and pastors. Nashville is a drivable distance for me and I was fortunate enough to have my wife, Cheryl, go with me (although she didn’t attend the conference, she “rested” … and by rested I mean shopped).

ETCH was a good time to catch up with ministry friends from around the country, see friends who have moved to Nashville, and make a few new friends. All it all, it was a great experience.

If you’re planning your professional or team development for the coming year, consider ETCH. In 2019, the ETCH Family Ministry Conference will focus on what it looks like not only to survive but to THRIVE in ministry personally and with your team. Conference sessions will answer questions such as the following: What does it look like to focus on the things that can help us thrive in our ministry? What does it look like for us as ministry leaders to help others thrive?

Here are a few take-aways that resonated with me from last year’s conference.

The success of your ministry doesn’t change your position before God.
— Ben Trueblood
Don’t elevate your gift over your family or team; submit it to them.
— Lisa Harper
Parents need to be: engaged, equipped, encouraged, and enlisted.
— Mark Jones
Five Pillars of Parenting: 1) A secure parent; 2) A healthy balance between exploration and protection; 3) A rhythm of grace followed by truth; 4) Safe spiritual mentors/community; and 5) Play and laughter.
— Joshua Straub
Get God first, then you’re free to do family. The family is critical, but not it’s not first.
— Russell Moore -
A lifestyle of mission for the family does three things: 1) Creates margin in people’s schedules; 2) Helps families normalize gospel conversations; and 3) Encourages a normal sense of hospitality.
— Michael Kelley
Love God AND neighbor. It’s both not an either/or.
— Dorena Williamson
When it comes to being the primary spiritual influence in the life of a child, whose responsibility is it? The person of faith who knows the child.
— Heidi Hensley
Maintaining gospel focus in ministry requires 1) Working hard at resting; 2) Fighting sin, especially pride; 3) Remembering to serve from your identity, not FOR your identity; 4) Not doing anything that doesn’t clearly connect to the gospel; 5) Continuing to learn the gospel; 6) Continuing to grow in your love for the gospel; and 7) Continuing to find ways to live the gospel.
— Brian Dembowczyk

Looking forward to attending #ETCH19 … and maybe even submitting a proposal for a breakout session.

Note: An earlier version of this post originally appeared at