Posted December 17, 2019 in Around the Synod

bwLast year, the Next Generation Ministry Team in Pittsburgh Presbytery decided to pilot a training event (“Better Than Average Training”) for staff and volunteers who work with children and youth. Many congregations lack the resources to send their “teams” (which often consists of a couple volunteers) to any of the big national training events, and it was the presbytery’s theory that by using a couple friends and local resources, it could put together an event that was at the very least “Better Than Average.”

Pittsburgh Presbytery did, and to its surprise 80-plus registered, coming from as far away as State College, PA, for the evening. This year “Better Than Average Training” is a bit longer, with workshops for volunteers, staff and even a special one for solo/senior pastors. The speaking lineup has been mixed up a bit, with a keynote speaker from Idaho and two presenters from Shenango Presbytery in addition to the Pittsburgh-based folk. And already, there’s a congregation from the Baltimore area registered. The other goal was to keep this event affordable for anyone, no matter what type of size congregation they came from and so there’s customized pricing plans.

All of the details are available on the website here, but here’s a rundown for the day:

Better Than Average Training

Jan. 16, 2020

Sewickley Presbyterian Church

4-8:30 p.m. (with optional pre-conference starting at 2:30)


2:30 p.m. – Pre-Conference Seminar: The Enneagram – Its Origins and Relevance to Ministry (Rev. Brian Wallace)

4:00 p.m. – Main Session 1

4:30 p.m. – Afternoon Workshops:

  1. Writing in the Margins: Lessons from the Edge for Leadership (Rev. Lisa Hickman)
  2. It’s Not About the Programs: Understanding You Role in Discipling the Next Generation (Rev. Michael Haddox)
  3. Creating a Next Generation Culture in Your Church (Rev. Brian Wallace)

6:00 p.m. – Dinner

6:30 p.m. – Breakouts

  1. Equipping Families to Nurture Faith at Home (Rev. Lisa Hickman)
  2. Working with Multiple Age Groups in One Room (Ellen Allston)
  3. Choosing  and Using Content and Curriculum Wisely (TBA)
  4. When the Going Gets Tough: How to Deal With Challenging Behaviors of K-6th graders (Karen Shumaker)
  5. Mission and Service-Minded Ministry (Rev. Beth Creekpaum)
  6. Begin with the End in Mind: A Sustainable Confirmation Model (Rev. Jason Freyer)
  7. Preparing High Schoolers for What’s Next (TBA)

7:45 p.m. – Main Session 2 with Keynote Address (Rev. Michael Haddox)

8:30 p.m. – Wrap-up and Closing Prayer

For more information, contact Brian Wallace at Pittsburgh Presbytery by email ( or phone/text (412) 323-1402.