'Winning at Home' conference helps with parenting, marriages

Ryan Lewis, Editor

There are no instruction manuals for many important aspects of life—parenting and long-term relationships among them.

They may not be solving those two problems, but a group of volunteers from several local churches wants to help.

They decided to put together a three-day conference called Winning at Home. It kicks off tonight with an evening focused on marriage and long-term relationships. Saturday, Oct. 14, there will be a focus on parenting. Sunday, Oct. 15, it will focus on personal and spiritual growth.

Jason Smith is the student ministries pastor at Friendship Wesleyan Church in Plainwell. He helped organize the conference and said the idea for it was sparked by an effort to find out what the community truly needed.

“After we did some research, we discovered people generally had two desires,” Smith said. “If people were married, they wanted to learn how to make it work for the long term.

“Because the statistics are pretty bad (with divorce). And then, for folks who are considering marriage, they wanted to know how that works.”

The other major desire was parental guidance. Smith said there were not only many children in homes in the area but also that they were being raised by non-traditional guardians—uncles, grandparents, single parents, in addition to two-parent homes.

“People would tell us they felt like right when they learned how to guide their children at one age, those children had already grown past that,” Smith said. “A lot of parents would tell us that they just always felt they were running behind.”

So, the group wanted to step in to help.

“That’s kind of where this event came out of,” he said. “We realize it doesn’t fix our community. But it begins a conversation.”

He said many area churches pitched in to help organize it and he’s excited to see how it helps.

The speaker for the conference is Dan Seaborn, a non-denominational Christian evangelist who founded Winning at Home Inc., He speaks throughout the United States for events such as Promise Keepers.

Despite its roots in Christian ministry, Smith said the event was not explicitly about church.

All three days of the conference are also completely free, open to any in the community and take place at the Plainwell High School Performing Arts Center.

The Wednesday event tonight on relationships begins at 7 p.m. and runs to 9 p.m. The website says, “We will be exploring what it means to thrive in our love lives.”

The Saturday session runs 7 to 9:30 p.m. and is all about parenting.

“We like to say it’s for parents of children from age 3 to 33,” Smith said.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. both nights.

Sunday’s session starts at 11 a.m. and is based more around personal growth; the website says, “(It’s an opportunity to come back and hear from our speaker on a more personal level, to give thanks to our Creator and Author, and contemplate what it means to ‘go the next level.’”

Smith said, “There is going to be a ton of fun involved. And both Wednesday and Saturday involve applicable, hands-on types of things you can do.”

For more information, visit www.wah17.com.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.



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