This year’s gathering will hold a mixture of traditional plenary sessions and “TED” talks, along with workshop options in specific tracks around theology, discipleship, leadership, and multiplication. There will also be opportunities for relational connection during the time as well as network celebrations and updates.
http://thisisthewilderness.com/involvement/work-with-us/ J.R. Briggs is the Director of Leadership and Congregational Formation for Ecclesia. He is also the founding pastor of The Renew Community, an Ecclesia church in the greater Philadelphia area. In addition to serving with Ecclesia, he is the founder of Kairos Partnerships, serves as affiliate professor of Practical Theology at Missio Seminary also serves as a National Trainer for Fresh Expressions U.S. He is an author, coach, consultant, and speaker. He and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett, and live in Lansdale, PA, where he falls asleep each night watching Bob Ross paint and wakes up each morning to the song “The Distance” by Cake.
Bob Hyatt is the Director of Equipping and Spiritual Formation for the Ecclesia Network. After planting The Evergreen Community in Portland, OR in 2004 and pastoring there for nearly 15 years, his focus has shifted to equipping and encouraging other leaders.
He is the co-author of two books from IVP, Ministry Mantras and Eldership and the Mission of God. He received an MA in theology from Western Seminary and a DMin in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from Portland Seminary.
These days, any spare time is spent in the wood shop, trying to keep all the fingers attached.
Threats – What are the current threats to our children’s spiritual and mental health?
Tasks – What are the tasks children must accomplish in order to thrive and fulfill their God-given potential?
Tools – What are the tools adults can give children to help them navigate transitions, manage distress, and overcome crisis?
Dr. Linda Frances Gorham was born and raised in Baltimore City and is a licensed psychologist in private practice in the State of Maryland. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and has an extensive background in the fields of psychology and education as well as in Christian ministry. Dr. Gorham is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Paraklete Consulting, LLC, a certified minority/women’s business enterprise dedicated to providing expert program evaluation services to school districts in addition to providing psychological testing and mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families. In the area of Christian ministry, Dr. Gorham holds a Master of Divinity degree from the former Biblical Theological Seminary (currently Missio Seminary) in Pennsylvania and currently serves as the Founding Pastor of Spring in the Desert Ministries, Inc. located in Baltimore County, Maryland. Dr. Gorham and her husband James Gorham have been married for 48 years and they are co-founders of Dayspring, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides out-of-school time educational programs to school-age children attending high-poverty schools in Baltimore City. They have three amazing adult children and five beautiful grandchildren. In her leisure time, Dr. Gorham enjoys playing music, collecting a variety of musical instruments, and working to stay fit as a competitive powerlifter.
Krystal Thomas is the Director of Church Engagement at The District Church. In this role, Krystal is responsible for leading The District Church’s hospitality and building out the strategic vision for becoming a multicultural church. Krystal’s focus is to continue to build inclusive and engaging spaces within the church while identifying gaps and removing potential barriers from preventing people from connecting with Christ and community. Krystal is a Certified Diversity Executive and Associate Diversity Coach. She received Dual Master’s in Conflict Resolution and will be attending Denver Theological Seminary in Spring 2022.
The sexual culture war is eating the us alive – families, churches, even denominations. It can feel difficult or impossible to see a good way forward. Is culture moving in the right direction? We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history again. Or is the historical stance of the church correct? We have seen many times culture has taken us down the wrong path as well. Having been engaged in this issue for the last 20 years as a pastor and the last ten academically as well, Jim will try to walk us through a faithful and loving approach. No quick fixes offered, but leaning into Sarah Coakley’s work, hopefully a more faithful (and even fruitful) one.
Jim Pace was on staff and one of the pastors of New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) for 25 years, and for the past ten has been consulting for churches and coaching pastors. In May of 2021 he stepped off the pastoral team and now consults/coaches full time. He also is an adjunct professor with Leland Seminary and is in the last year of his doctoral work through Northern Theological Seminary. He has written one book and is working on another now.
Most pastors say they want to improve their preaching and be more creative. Very few pastors actually do anything about it. This breakout is for those who want to be more engaging and effective. We will explore simple ways to evaluate and improve your preaching. We will also discuss some creative ideas for breaking out of your old routines.
Chris Backert has served as National Director of Ecclesia since it’s beginning and has been part of several congregations within the network both in Virginia and Maryland. In addition to his role with Ecclesia, he also helps spearhead Fresh Expressions US and Missio Alliance. Chris holds a D.Min. in Missional Church Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary where his focus was on the importance of church networks for the future of mission in North America. He currently lives just north of Harrisburg, PA with his wife Rachel, daughter Elliana and son Jase.
Having spent the last 25 years engaged in ministry to a church made up primarily of people under 30, I have been blessed with a front row seat at the cultural changes these emerging generations are bringing with them. What does evangelism look like if people aren’t worried about what will happen to them after they die? How can you have a fuller gospel that is also at least partially understandable? How do we communicate the good news to a culture that more and more sees it as fake news that isn’t particularly good?
Whether you’ve had to lead masked, online, pre-recorded, or simply couldn’t meet, the last couple of years have brought many challenges. How can we refresh our purpose and values as ministers of musical worship to remain focused on glorification of God and edification of the church?
Kristal and Robbie Poff serve as pastors at New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) in Blacksburg, VA. Together they have over 35 years of experience leading worship and worship teams. They are passionate about teaching, equipping, encouraging, unearthing, and cultivating the manifestation of our worship response – focusing on creating space for both communal and individual expressions of praise.
They graduated in June 2021 from John Leland Center for Theological Studies each with a Masters in Christian Leadership.
Whether we call it mentorship, discipleship, or leadership development, multiplying our lives into others around us is one of the greatest litmus tests of fruitful and effective leaders. But let’s be honest and ask: do we actually know how to do it? Many leaders ask, “Where do I even begin in taking this concept from the abstract of books and podcasts to the real world context of my church and neighborhood?” In this session, we will get ridiculously practical on how we can move from leading by addition to learning to lead by multiplication, what that actually looks like – and what it will cost us in the process.
J.R. Briggs is the Director of Leadership and Congregational Formation for Ecclesia. He is also the founding pastor of The Renew Community, an Ecclesia church in the greater Philadelphia area. In addition to serving with Ecclesia, he is the founder of Kairos Partnerships, serves as affiliate professor of Practical Theology at Missio Seminary also serves as a National Trainer for Fresh Expressions U.S. He is an author, coach, consultant, and speaker. He and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett, and live in Lansdale, PA, where he falls asleep each night watching Bob Ross paint and wakes up each morning to the song “The Distance” by Cake.
Rev. Chris Breslin is a pastor of Oak Church in Durham, NC and a graduate of Duke Divinity School. When not wrangling a family of small kids and a flock of urban chickens, you’ll find him multitasking with two or more of the following activities: sipping coffee, walking in his neighborhood, sitting at the NCMA, listening to music, watching baseball, making podcasts, reading theology, and/or enjoying the sacrament of smoked meats.
The conversation on sexual and gender identity is moving very quickly in our culture today. It would have been unheard of for someone to say “I am a man trapped in a woman’s body” 10 or 20 years ago and be taken seriously by most people. But now that is not uncommon for us to hear. Questions of transgender identity are now some of the most divisive and pressing in the LGBTQ conversation. What does the Bible teach about our biological sex and our gender identity? How is the church to respond? How are we to love those whose internal sense of self doesn’t match their biological sex? What about when this issue comes up in the workplace with using gender pronouns? What about in school policies like bathrooms or in national legislation like The Equality Act? What about when my own child or nephew starts identifying as trans? What does the research say about those who medically transition through surgery? What about the suicide rates among people who are trans? Does the Bible speak to any of this? If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone! In this class Aaron Grahm will take us through some history of how we arrived at this moment. He will present common arguments on both sides of this issue and share what our response should be as the body of Christ. While this class will try to present both sides of the issue, it should be clear that Aaron, as well as the Ecclesia Network, holds a traditional and biblically orthodox view of marriage and gender identity and so his teaching will come from that perspective.
Aaron Graham serves as founder and lead pastor of The District Church in the heart of our nation’s capital. The District Church is committed to growing and multiplying leaders who have a heart for the city. Before moving to DC, Aaron started the Quincy Street Missional Church in a low-income neighborhood of Boston where he served for five years. He is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School and received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. Aaron and his wife Amy are both pastors as well as adoption and foster care advocates. They founded DC127 with the mission to unite churches to reverse the foster care wait list in DC and Just Homes which is committed to building affordable housing in the city. They live in Columbia Heights with their two adopted kids Elijah and Natalie.
Working Groups and coffee/lunch discussions
Next Level Leaders- J.R. Briggs
Church Multiplication- Chris Backert and Robert Frazier
Increasing Coaching Skill and Capacity- Bob Hyatt
Book Recommendations & Suggestions– J.R. Briggs
Sermon Series Swap- Chris Breslin
For everyone who enjoys the critically-acclaimed Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, we’ll dig beneath the lighthearted comedy surface of the show to find the deeper themes of relationships, leadership, family systems theory, and organizational culture. Be warned, if you haven’t watched the show or aren’t through season 2, there will be lots of spoilers. So go binge the show or get caught up and join us for a fun conversation