Virtual Mobilize session

Mobilize Goes Virtual

By the ISMT International Team 

Mobilize is the highest level of BCM’s children’s ministry training program (see Mobilize Comes to Africa, BCM World March 2019), equipping Lead Trainers as catalysts for ministry to children in their region. This includes not just multiplying teachers through training events but advocating for children’s ministry in churches and networking with like-minded organizations.

Under normal circumstances, Mobilize is a seven-day intensive in-person training. COVID-19 moved many such events online. But how does one translate face-to-face conversations at meals or networking after hours into screentime? Shifting a seven-day in-person training into an online event wasn’t a major challenge. BCM’s ISMT coordinator for Africa, Pat Govender, had been conducting trainings online since early in the pandemic (see Locking Down ISMT, BCM World, July 2020). Losing that building of community was the biggest concern.

But as the pandemic continued, so did a clear need for more Lead Trainers. In October 2021, BCM-Europe held a three-day online conference with six hours each day screen time. This gave a parameter of the maximum amount of screentime attendees could effectively process. Home assignments before, during, and after the event would complete the normal hours of learning for a seven-day training.

The first virtual Mobilize was held Jan 31st-Feb 4th, 2022, with six new trainees. One major advantage of a virtual training was being able to invite faculty from all over the world to teach different sessions, providing a global flavor as well as modeling the importance of teamwork. Online training days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) alternated with home assignment days (Tuesday, Thursday).

Positive feedback from the first virtual Mobilize led to holding a second one September 12-16, 2022, for ten more trainees. Between new Lead Trainers and faculty, a total of ten countries on four continents were represented. All participating expressed amazement at the level of networking and community building that proved possible through intentional screen interaction. This has continued as the newly graduated Lead Trainers encourage and pray for each other via a WhatsApp group.

The BCM global children’s ministry training team is looking forward to a renewal of in-person conferences after two years of pandemic. But experiences with online training for all three levels of In Step with the Master Teacher, Train the Trainer, and Mobilize have also demonstrated the benefits of continuing virtual training events as well. Among those benefits are the cost effectiveness of bringing trainees and faculty together across large distances without need of travel and lodging expenses while still being able to foster a sense of family and mutual support as we serve together in God’s kingdom.

Virtual Mobilize - BCM Philippines