Plenary Session Descriptions
Collective Session # 1 – The Gospel that leads to Apprenticeship
In this opening session, we will talk about the Gospel that is commonly preached, and the Gospel that Jesus preached, and how the former is limited and does not naturally lead to discipleship, while Jesus’ proclamation is complete, and naturally leads one to become his disciple, or apprentice.
Collective Session # 2 – The Power of Narrative
Here we will address the role of narrative, story, and ideas in our lives, especially as it relates to our spiritual lives, and how we are formed and transformed. We live at the mercy of our ideas. They need to be true, or we will suffer. Jesus teachings—his narratives and ideas about reality—are true and reliable and those are the ideas we must live by.
Collective Session # 3 – A Journey in the Company of Friends
The path of mission and ministry is best lived together – we will make it further and more fruitful if we have a set of companions along the way. This evening session will give a snapshot into the life of our particular “company of friends” called Ecclesia over this past year. We will celebrate and remember all that Jesus has done and pray into what we hope that He will do in the future.
Collective Session # 4 – Don’t Forget Your Helper: Walking in the Spirit of Rest
The Spirit rests upon people—do we rest in return? In this address we will explore the relationship between walking in the Spirit and the rhythms of God’s rest established and illustrated in the Scripture. How do we rest? What keeps us from rest? Why do we rest? In the end, we are more apt to love our work more than God’s rest.
Collective Session # 5 – The Necessity of Practice in the Long Haul of Ministry
Spiritual formation in Christlikness is certainly a work of the Holy Spirit, but it also requires effort and engagement on our part. Spiritual formation is a collaboration between us and the Spirit, and entails engaging in practices that allow God to work life and power into our lives. Without them, our life in ministry is likely to be short and strained.
Collective Session # 6 – Extended Families that Change the World
What if we could reimagine the family as the ‘first’ church? What if our homes could be centers for community and mission, welcoming the neighbor, making disciples and extending the reach of the local church into the neighborhood through a multi-generational model for life together as the family of God? This session will show how the life of discipleship is connected to the life of the family and how the marriage relationship is a means for evangelism because it is rooted and established in self-giving love and symbolic of the relationship between Christ the bridegroom and his bride, the Church.
Collective Session # 7 – Formed for Mission: The Role of Community in Christian
The Christian life demands support from others. God designed it this way. In this final talk Jim will share a story of his own journey into understanding the role of community in the Christian life, and conclude with some observations about what makes Christian community transformative.
Focused Session # 1 Descriptions:
Marriage Works (Or Does It?)
Tom & Gloria Ward – Senior Leaders, Eastpoint Church
Marriage really does work when you both agree to engage your whole heart, soul, body, and spirit to become one. This requires lots of love and understanding! Join Tom and Gloria as they share key insights on how to make your marriage work better. Marriage can be good and beautiful, but it only happens when you agree to work together.
Gracious Parenting: A New Look at Discipline
Meredith Dancause – Teaching Pastor, The Meeting House
Parenting is one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors a person can undertake. Parents play a key role in how children understand themselves, others, the world around them, and God. Additionally parenting provides a window for adults to see how they have been shaped and their own assumptions about themselves, others, the world, and God. In short, parenting can be something that enriches our lives; opening our eyes to new ways of seeing ourselves and God, yet at the same time it can be a breeding ground for shame, disappointment, frustration, and confusion. This workshop is meant to be a space where these negative voices lose their power to control the parent/child relationship, while being a catalyst for adults to see that their experience as a parent is a fertile soil in which to hear the voice of God in their own life.
The Good & Beautiful Mother – The Good & Beautiful Leader
Mandy Smith – Lead Pastor, University Christian Church
For women the question of how to lead is complicated on many levels so it doesn’t help that our models of leadership are also warped. Could women find their voice more naturally if we broadened our models of leadership outside of the world of business and politics? What if we also valued the powerful (and Christlike) leadership role women have filled since the beginning of time? Whether or not a woman is a mother, there is something powerful to learn from a mother’s sacrificial model of authority. Join the conversation with Mandy as together we heal our imaginations about what leadership is and who God is calling us to be.
Overcoming the # 1 Spiritual Illness of our Day
James Bryan Smith – Executive Director, Apprentice Institute
Almost everything we do today is done at a fast pace. High speed internet. The fast lane for driving. Ways we can expedite our lives to get even more done. But what would our lives look like if we slowed down and weren’t in such a hurry? Dr. Smith will take a look at how we can slow down and increase the margin we need to have a more intimate life with Christ.
Becoming a Community at Rest
Winn Collier – Lead Pastor, All Souls Charlottesville
“Come unto me all you who are weary,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest.” Yet, for many, of us, our church life exudes frantic activity, anxiety and very little rest. Is it possible to slowly learn to live a different rhythm? We’ll talk about sabbaths, sabbaticals and encouraging one another toward simplicity and leisure.
The Ecology of Leadership
AJ Swoboda – Lead Pastor, Theophilus Church
This workshop will draw on the best of agrarian thinking and integrate it into local church leadership. How does the environmental and agrarian conversation affect the way we lead, the love, and worship in a local community?
Focused Session Descriptions # 2
Keas Keasler – Pastor, Rhythm
Tim Keel – Senior Pastor, Jacob’s Well
Jesus doesn’t say blessed are the peace-keepers, but goes a step further: blessed are the peace-makers. The very word implies active engagement in creating peace where it does not exist. How can local churches take this call seriously? How can we be actively engaged in the spreading of God’s shalom in a world riddled with violence, antagonism, and strife? Join two pastors from different contexts as they reflect on these questions and share ways in which their churches engage this critical work.
The Good & Beautiful Father
Don Coleman – Senior Pastor, East End Fellowship
When Jesus spoke of God, he spoke of him as Father. To Jesus, this was his most intimate understanding of God’s identity. As the early church discerned how to articulate their faith, they decided to focus on this identity for the one we call God. In our modern day, which has become overwhelmed by lackluster and often hurtful fathering, many have shied away from this most essential identity, both for God, for themselves, and for the collective of men in their Christian communities. This workshop will inspire us to reclaim the fatherhood of God and thereby reclaiming the identity of a Good & Beautiful Father in our own lives and communities.
Creating a Mosaic Community: Forming Christian Congregations Across Cultures
Mia Chang – Lead Pastor, Next Gen Church
Cultural, ethnic, gender, and socio-economic walls continue to divide our world. The church, however is the refuge, providing peace and reconciliation through the power of Christ. It is where the walls of hostility are torn down and unity among all people is experienced. The church is the community where one’s differences are embraced and celebrated. The distinctions that often separate people are, in essence, the rich and unique threads that create the tapestry that reflects the love and hope of Christ.
Redefining Success: A New Orientation for Ministry Leadership
Tim Suttle – Lead Pastor, Redemption Church
Nearly every pastor and ministry leader I know assumes that their job is to make their ministry successful. Where did that idea come from? How much anxiety is connected to this drive to succeed? Let’s talk about a better way to lead…
No: Learning the Art of Boundaries
AJ Swoboda – Senior Pastor, Theophilus Church & Professor, George Fox University
In this workshop, Dr. Swoboda will discuss the theology of “no” in the Bible. Our faith forbears had an uncanny ability to follow the will of God. But, this was set by a context of saying no to that which was not theirs. This workshop will explore how, and why, to say no.”
Formed: Leadership as Spiritual Formation
Bob Hyatt – Director of Equipping & Spiritual Formation, Ecclesia Network
This workshop will focus on giving a model for spiritual formation that we can use in both the easier and more difficult parts of life. We’ll spend some time working through how God forms us, how He uses the challenges of life to form us, and how responding to those challenges the right way can help us become more like Christ.