Leader Highlight

Updated on 6/3/22
Heather Manalo

Bio: Heather is the Children’s Minister for Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio. Her ministry career started 7 years ago after volunteering regularly in the children’s ministry. She serves the church where she grew up and is humbled to give back what she experienced as a child and teenager. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Jeremy, for 11 years and they have 5 year-old identical twin boys, Eli and Asher. Their family enjoys living in a rural farming community and has plans to have a small farm of their own one day.

Heather is licensed through the Church of the Brethren and is currently enrolled with her Denominational Academy to obtain Ordination. Once her schooling is complete she desires to be a resource to represent children’s ministry in her church district and denomination. The Brethren denomination is smaller in scale and there are not many resources available for children’s ministry leaders within the denomination, so she went searching for support. She found INCM.

She is currently enrolled in the INCM Leadership Coaching Program, and is an INCM member where she has found the support she needs while staying true to her ministry mission and vision. She serves a small congregation (120-150) with a very active family ministry (45 kids). In moments of feeling overwhelmed and needing guidance she has turned to the INCM community and resources to guide her along the way. INCM is a wonderful “add-on” to her ministry experience, and she joyously looks forward to many years ahead with the INCM organization.

Position: Children’s Minister

Location: Greenville, Ohio

Years in Ministry: 7 Years

What are 3 areas that you are most skilled in and passionate about?

Preschool Ministry: I enjoy watching young children’s eyes light up when hearing Bible stories for the first time. It helps me to stay humble and reminds me why I continue to serve children and families.

Preteen Ministry: These are the awkward years. I was an awkward preteen. I remember my relationship with friends and parents being awkward at this age. One thing that was completely unbiased for me during those very formative years was the youth group I attended. I was accepted for who I was, and guided to be the best version of who God wanted me to become. I have such a heart for this age of ministry since I know those preteen years are tough. It’s nice to share the love of God and life with them.

Event Planning: I like to keep things within my ministry fresh. I thrive on planning for special events, keeping traditions and making new ones. Ministry is evolving and at a lightning fast pace at times. Keeping up and staying relevant brings about a whole new relationship with kids and their families and encourages them to stay to learn and be hungry for more of Jesus.

What keeps you going in this season of ministry?

The ever-changing pace of children’s ministry keeps me going. At times ministry may seem daunting or repetitive, but the beauty underneath all of that stays the same. Planning events and keeping active in ministry is unlike any other job. To me, I don’t have a job, this ministry is wholeheartedly a part of who I am and what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Living out my calling and being reminded through smiles, tears, laughter, crisis, and chaos (VBS, am I right?) is what gets me through. Because at the end of it all, there is Jesus. Getting to know Jesus and sharing Him in new and unexpected ways to children and their families gets me going.

What are some things that help you to continue to faithfully serve kids?

RESOURCES!! I am always on the hunt for books, articles, games, events, and community needs. I do not have all of the answers, and curriculum and life experience only get me so far. We are a community in Christ and having resources from that community helps me to be a faithful servant and do my due diligence in preparing lessons, having conversations, sharing help, and connecting families.

How do you find connection within the children’s ministry community?

I am a part of online communities through Facebook, Instagram, and INCM. I am not afraid to ask questions. I also visit local area churches around me and ask to connect with them and their ministry; always asking, “How can we partner, pray for each other, or share resources?”

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