ECHO Parenting Conference

Moms and dads, it’s that time again – the ECHO Parenting Conference is right around the corner, and you’ll want to make plans to attend with your families! For those of us who aren’t yet parents, no need to worry because there is something for every member of our FBC family during this event. This year, the conference will take place on Sunday, November 5, and will feature Dr. Richard Ross. That morning will be filled with much teaching and training, as Dr. Ross will preach during both morning services, 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. He will also spend the community group hour with parents of teens, children, and preschoolers in the Warehouse, and the morning will conclude with a luncheon for parents of teens and their teenagers where Dr. Ross has something extra special planned. 

    We are fortunate to have Dr. Ross as our guest for ECHO this year; he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. He has thirty years of experience serving as a youth minister, and he also served as the youth ministry consultant at LifeWay Christian Resources for sixteen of those years. After stepping away from full-time youth ministry, Dr. Ross has been serving as professor of youth ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2000. In addition to his day job as a professor, Dr. Ross has also written many books related to this field of ministry and also actively travels to various churches and conferences throughout the country teaching parents and youth leaders how to better serve their children and students. 

As far as what we can expect to learn from the conference, much of what Dr. Ross will focus on is how to make sure parents are modeling the kinds of attitudes and lifestyles that they want to see reflected in their children. His sermon will emphasize the importance of the “condition of [our] heart[s]” and how this impacts “the spiritual future of [our] children.” For anyone who isn’t a parent, this will still be a great opportunity to take stock of where our hearts are focused and with what they are filled because God desires the hearts of all of his children to be rightly positioned. Dr. Ross’s teaching during the community group hour will amplify what parents will hear during worship, as he will focus on how parents can make a spiritual impact on their children in more practical ways. When I asked Dr. Ross why this session is important, even for parents of very young children, he said, “Ideally, parents begin to shape their children spiritually at birth. In the preschool, grade school, and teenage years, who parents are and what they do impacts a spiritual life for a lifetime.” I also spoke to Dr. Ross about families who may feel that their children are too old to benefit from their influence at this point – maybe parents who feel like that just haven’t done a very good job at spiritually leading their children and who may feel hopeless, and he offered these words of wisdom and encouragement: “It is never too late. Even parents of high school seniors can take steps that will change the future of their children. We serve a God of second chances.” Much of what Dr. Ross will present will look more at the importance of parents living out their faith instead of just talking about it because “God wired children to absorb and live out the modeling of parents much more strongly than the teaching of parents.” He continues explaining that “both matter, but who parents are will shape their children even more than what they say.” 

The conference will end with a very special time for parents of teenagers and those studentsc. This will take place at a luncheon directly following the 11:00 a.m. service, and the focus of this time is “Restoring Heart Connections between Parents and Teenagers.” This will be very different than the sermon and community group hour, as Dr. Ross will lead parents and their teens through a time of talking and sharing with one another. About communication and its importance for families, Dr. Ross says, “Communication is essential for strong heart connections between parents and children. And heart connections become the ‘pipeline’ through which spiritual impact flows from one generation to the next,” and his aim is to teach parents and teens how to keep that line open and flowing. This promises to be a very intimate and exciting time for families that you won’t want to miss. 

Please make plans to attend on November 5! This would also be a great opportunity to invite someone to visit our church who you think would benefit from what Dr. Ross will present. For everything except the noon luncheon, all you have to do is show up – no registration required. If your family does plan to attend the noon session, please go to fbcstarkville.com/events and register today to be a part of this amazing opportunity with a truly gifted speaker and mentor.

Courtney Dueitt