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Tough Economy Heightens Need to Support Leaders of Smaller Churches: Conference Series

Contact: Joni Sullivan Baker, Buoyancy PR, 513-319-3231

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- Depending on how you look at it, you could say these are great times for America's churches. Although in many churches giving appears to be down, many other churches report increased attendance and participation as more church members seek spiritual help during the tough economic times most Americans are facing.

But since the majority of American churches have fewer than 200 members, these increased demands can take a toll on ministers and other leaders.

And that's where the Energizing Smaller Churches Network (ESCN) comes in. ESCN, a national organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio, assists smaller churches by providing resources for their leaders. ESCN will bring its 2009 conference to four more cities this fall.

Designed to help ministers and volunteer leaders of smaller churches better serve their congregations and communities, the event will pack workshops, speakers, and experts into a one-day conference being held from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

"The theme of our 2009 ESCN conferences, 'Maximize Your Ministry,' underscores the potential that exists in every smaller church in America," said ESCN director Shawn McMullen. "Regardless of the economic woes of our nation, every church is richly blessed with many resources for ministry. When we use our God-given resources to their full potential--regardless of the size of our congregation--we can expect God's blessings on our churches and our ministries--blessings so great we'll find them hard to contain."

"We want men and women to come away from this conference encouraged and refilled, with practical tools they can use," he continued. "In addition to a keynote speaker, the day will include Q and A sessions and specialized workshops that will offer step-by-step instructions, specific tools, and helpful resources for effective smaller church ministries."

McMullen is regularly in touch with leaders of smaller churches.

"We aren't seeing dramatic change, but we are seeing a heightened awareness of the need for spiritual sustenance and reminders that God is in charge, whatever we see around us in the economy and the nation," he said. "Statistically, most churches in the United States are smaller ones, and those congregations will notice it right away when giving is down and when demand increases for counseling, as well as for help from food pantries and other benevolence programs. With fewer people, they have less of a buffer to absorb these changes.

"At the same time it can energize and mobilize a congregation to step up to meet these needs, it can also tax the ministers and other leaders as they try to do more with less. We're there to support the needs of those leaders."

ESCN exclusively serves the unique needs of churches with 200 members or less through conferences, publications, Internet communications consultation and relationship building. ESCN promotes the health and growth of smaller churches by affirming their value and enlarging their vision. More information is available at www.escnetwork.org.  It is sponsored by Standard Publishing, also based in Cincinnati.

Upcoming conferences will be hosted Saturday, Oct. 24 in Knoxville, Tenn. and also in Lakeville, Ohio; Saturday, Oct. 31 in Cincinnati, and Friday, Nov. 13 in Hershey, Pa.

Churches are encouraged to come as a group and bring their volunteer leaders. Cost for the conference is $49 per person ($10 for full-time college students) if pre-registered, or $59 at the door. New this fall is the husband and wife registration for $69 if pre-registered, or $79 at the door. The conference cost includes lunch and parking, in addition to materials. For registration and more information, go to www.escnetwork.org.

In addition to the conferences, the ESCN has also produced three books published by Standard Publishing that support ministry in smaller churches: Unleashing the Potential of the Smaller Church, Releasing the Power of the Smaller Church, and Energizing Children's Ministry in the Smaller Church. To obtain these books, visit local Christian bookstores or visit www.standardpub.com.

For more than 140 years, Standard Publishing has been raising the standard for true-to-the-Bible resources that educate, encourage and enrich. The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio where it was founded in 1866. For more information, visit www.standardpub.com.