2,000 ministers gather in Detroit to share ideas

Detroit, USA - Whom do ministers turn to -- other than a higher power -- when they seek guidance on how to reach the "iPod generation?"

Each other, apparently.

A conference called "A Decade of Empowering Pastors and Church Leaders for Kingdom Building" that will bring together 2,000 pastors and others begins today and runs through Thursday at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

The conference is aimed at teaching pastors and their staffs "innovative methods" of ministering to bridge secular life with the spiritual, said Greater Grace's senior pastor, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, an event sponsor.

"The major challenge is competing with things out in the secular world," Ellis said. "The fact is that we cannot effectively minister to an iPod generation with an eight-track-tape mentality."

Ellis said the church, which is Pentecostal, is competing with influences from multimedia entertainment that may drown out Christian influences.

"You have 300 channels where you can see anything secular ... pornographic," Ellis said. "Our children are being influenced by it. It makes our job in the church very difficult because a lot of it is attractive to them."

Information will include looking beyond traditional ways of worship. Illustrated sermons and programs such as a law enforcement appreciation day, sports camps for youths and family nights also will be discussed. Ellis said the conference also will help pastors deal with the economy's effect on church finances.

The Rev. Leon Wilkinson, the pastor of Mount Zion Church in Middletown, Ohio, plans to attend the conference with six of his associate ministers. He said he is looking for new ways to invigorate his congregation and invite new members.

"We have to look at changes such as the music, the programming and the schedule," he said. "We have to be willing to meet the needs of the modern-day family."

For churchgoer Ted Brown, the conference is a chance to pick up pointers on how to effectively use his multimedia skills to reach others in the church.

"Greater Grace is a good example of how a church should be run," said Brown, a member of Christ for Everyone Ministries in Ford Heights, Ill.

Brown's minister, the Rev. Kenneth Franklin, said churches have to find a way to minister to families facing financial hardships.

"People are struggling. The church has to provide the tools to help hold the family together. Conferences like this give us the tools for the next step."