Children are so important to the kingdom.
I know this seems like such an obvious thing, but I think we all-too-often forget just how important children are in the church and kingdom of God. Being surrounded by so many people who care so much about the spiritual maturation of children was a palm-to-the-forehead kind of experience for me. Of course they're important. The Bible is full of passages about them. Good reminder.
Children are sponges.
One of the big points that was repeated over and over and over and...(you get the idea) is that kids learn even when you think they aren't learning. Just because you aren't "teaching" them in the traditional sense doesn't mean they aren't learning. They learn from a teacher's behavior and from their environments and from their own peers. I think too many children's ministry volunteers don't realize this truth and just what big of an impact they're making and think they're "just playing" with kids - oh how we need to re-orient that mentality.
Ear plugs are powerful tools.
I add this simply because I learned very quickly that two snoring roommates make for one very exhausted Kendall. Must remember this for the next retreat....and marriage.
Good, thorough vision is vital for any ministry.
One of my favorite sessions at the retreat was about developing vision for your ministry. It was incredibly helpful for children's ministry, but I think it's going to prove to be even more helpful and practical for all areas of ministry in which I have a part. The speaker gave some very useful steps for developing vision that I can't wait to put into practice.
Oregon can be just as rainy, if not rainier, than Washington.
This came as a bit of a surprise. While we have had some beautiful weather up here recently, Oregon was pretty gross the whole time I was there. Even more reason to love my state.
Children's ministries come second to the parents.
...which leads to the bigger point that children's ministry begins in the home. We only get a small amount of time with the kids in our ministries every week, while the parents get significantly more. This means we need to be equipping our parents to minister to their children in their daily lives and let the children's ministry be a supplement to what parents are establishing in their homes. Families are important to God (see most of the books in the B-I-B-L-E), and the church should be raising up not just parents and not just children to love him and serve him but families as a cohesive unit.
On a personal level, it was so nice to get away from the daily grind for a few days and take some time for spiritual renewal. And now I look forward to digging through all of my new materials and building up our childhood ministries at FBCPO. This should get exciting.