Next Gen

Children's Disciplemaking Leadership Certificate (CDLC) Scholarship

The CMAlliance Kids ministry of The Alliance offers a 12-month certificate program designed to help leaders grow in the area of children’s disciplemaking and leadership. The program focuses on theology of ministry to children, philosophy of ministry to children, and tools of ministry to children. Click here to learn more!

The Alliance Northwest is offering a limited number of scholarships to those who are interested. To find out more about the scholarship contact Hannah Cockerham.

Confessions of a Seasoned KidMin Worker

Originally published in Children’s Ministry Magazine, March/April 2019.
Alliance Northwest highly recommends youth ministry workers
sign up for a free subscription to Children’s Ministry Magazine at this link.

12 hard-won pieces of wisdom from a veteran leader’s heart to yours

By Debbie Mecca

(Debbie has worked with children and youth for 31 years in churches in New York and Connecticut. She’s currently the director of children and youth ministries at Saugerties United Methodist Church in Saugerties, New York

Not long ago, someone asked me to think back to when I first started in children’s ministry…over 30 years ago.  The person asked me to share all the things I thought I needed to be effective—and what I learned I actually needed instead.  I began to think about all the discoveries I’d made over the years—some happy, some uncomfortable, but all important.  The result is this list, which is part confession and part advice column.  It might save you a bit of wasted effort or ease a frustration you’re dealing with.  It may even nudge along your own discovery.  So here goes: the shortlist of lessons learned along my 30-year journey in children’s ministry. 

  1. I thought I needed to develop my own vision for the children’s programming.
    What I really needed was to develop a shared vision with our church.

  2. I thought I needed the approval of the pastor and church leadership.
    What I really needed was the active support and involvement of the pastor and church leadership.

  3. I thought I needed “bodies” filling Sunday school rooms each week.
    What I really needed was adults who cared about children and sharing God’s Word with them.

  4. I thought I needed flashy Sunday school curriculum. 
    What I really needed was to learn how to provide effective teacher training.

  5. I thought I needed a big budget.
    What I really needed was to learn how to be creative.

  6. I thought everyone was fit to teach Sunday school and be involved in Children’s Ministry.
    What I really needed to know is children’s safety comes first, and we must choose all volunteers wisely after completing background checks.

  7. I thought I needed to simply put out the word and volunteers would flock to Children’s Ministry.
    What I really needed was help promoting and advertising the joys of our children’s programs.

  8. I thought I only needed to provide the programs and the children would come.
    What I really needed was to involve entire families in various programs and activities throughout the year.

  9. I thought it didn’t matter what space we used or how it looked.
    What I really needed to know is appropriate and clean spaces project an image of caring, not just for the children but also for the space where we worship our God.

  10. I thought I needed lots of meetings and planning sessions.
    What I really needed was time spent in prayer and discernment.

  11. I thought I knew all I needed to know at the time.
    What I really needed to know is consistent study and continuing education were important to keep me up to date in the ever changing and evolving area of Children’s Ministry.

  12. I thought I could do the job alone.
    What I really needed was a mentor or coach and a group of other children’s ministers to help me, to laugh and cry with me, to share with me, to pray for me, to guide me, to keep me centered, and to let me know I wasn’t alone on this journey.


Reach Didn't Get Canceled, It Just Got Remixed

Although weather forced a cancelation of the actual Reach retreat for Alliance Northwest high schoolers, many youth groups still took advantage of the weekend and saw God at work:

  • Mercer Creek (Ellensburg, WA): “We took the opportunity that the extra snow brought and did a sledding event. We had a good amount of students show up and were able to create a fun environment for students to connect with each other and leaders. We are looking for something in the coming months to contribute to the spiritual transformation that comes with Reach.” – Nick Faucett

  • Snoqualmie Valley Alliance (Snoqualmie, WA): “The crew from SVA Church had a great weekend together and God absolutely moved! On Saturday, our students and leaders shopped at local retailers and grocery stores for supplies to make care packages for people who are living outside in this cold weather in Seattle. We packaged them intentionally and wrote out notes that we prayed over and included in each care package. We then prayerfully hit the streets of Seattle with these packages and went where the Lord led! We worked on breaking through the barriers and comfortability of speaking to homeless people. We knocked on tents and asked about peoples lives and stories and got to pray for many people who were honored at our efforts to make them known and loved!  We then went to a fun dinner in the city and did an escape room challenge all together that evening! Both the students and their parents were amazed at the day and how God used us to tangibly love our community. Though the decision to cancel reach was a tough one, know that our students grew in compassion and living like Christ this weekend because of it! :)” – Baly Botten

Both the students and their parents were amazed at the day and how God used us to tangibly love our community.
  • Compass (Vancouver, WA): “We took our students to Great Wolf Lodge! It was a fun time of community and care.” – Annie Banceu

  • Moses Lake Alliance Church (Moses Lake, WA): “We kept it simple and went to see a movie together. Afterword we got Frosties at Wendy’s and connected over the movie and life in general. I was encouraged by this because these were 3 very different guys at very different places in maturity. But to see them interacting with each other (and dare I say actually getting to some Biblical truth from a secular movie) was a win.” – Tyler Ellis

  • Journey (Tacoma, WA): “The snow has melted up in Tacoma, and while we were bummed to miss Reach, we still enjoyed a great weekend together. One of our Elders hosted us at their family home for movies and pizza on Saturday night. Sunday morning Josh Mann came over from Fox Island and shared the message he prepared for the retreat weekend over breakfast with our high school group. We had a small turnout, but it was just the right group to hear Josh's message, and I was so grateful for the small setting. Monday afternoon we got together to play some archery tag and an escape room. Not what we planned—but still great time together!” – Joel Johnson 

  • Dallas Alliance Church (Dallas, OR): "We did end up doing something that weekend which was really good for the students. We were super sad to not get to be with everyone else, but it was still a blessing to get away for the weekend.  We were able to find a beach house in Lincoln City and took Saturday to Monday to relax and do our own little series on “Recalibrating Our Compass to True North”….Our retreat was by no means perfect and we really missed those small group huddles and tribe times, but overall it was a great weekend." - Miriam Lawson

  • Union Hill (Redmond, WA): "We took our students and went up to Bellingham, where we stayed at a hotel and had fun in the pool, walked around Fairhaven and some parks, and did an escape room together!  We also talked through the first two questions in the list of questions to guide Reach - "What do you want?" and "Who do you say that I am?" We leaders agree it was a really fruitful time." - Lauren Dudugjian

Middle Schoolers Find Connection at Quest 2018

Most Christians come to know Jesus as young people - and the middle school years are so crucial! Quest is an Alliance Northwest conference for 6th through 8th graders, held at scenic Black Lake Bible Camp each October.

“Connection” was the theme for Quest 2018, using John 15 as the core text. The conference content focused on who Jesus is, who we are, and the relationship we can have with him. “Connection” speaks to the love Jesus has for us and also how we can love him back.

Below, you can find the highlight video from the weekend, as well as a selection of the session talks. Thanks to Claire Faucher and Jason Simmonds, our Quest 2018 speakers!

Next Gen Leadership Change


Hannah Cockerham (formerly Greene) rejoined the Field Staff on March 1st to oversee Next Gen.

For the last few years, Dave Oldenkamp (Yakima Alliance Church) has led the Quest team and Tina Combs (Hood River Alliance) has led Reach and provided some Next Gen oversight, after Hannah left the Field Office and assumed a pastoral position at Crosspoint in Lewiston, Idaho. 

Over the past months, both Dave and Tina have expressed the need to redirect energies because of changing life circumstances. We prayed and asked God to provide leadership for Next Gen. Around the same time, Hannah and her husband John moved to The Dalles, OR, for his new job, which took her away from her position at Crosspoint. We at the Field Office were thrilled that Hannah raised her hand to return to oversee Next Gen. And fortunately for the whole region, both Dave and Tina will continue to stay engaged with Next Gen.