(A full list of workshops can be found below in alphabetical order by title. YM denotes youth ministry track. PT denotes parent track. Attendees are encouraged to register for any workshops that pique their interest- the designations just aim to provide direction.)
Being a Worship Leader Defined by the Gospel (YM)
Speaker: Zac Hicks
Leading worship is a sacred task, and there are ways to engage in this call which, in the words of Paul, are “in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal 2:14). During this workshop we will explore how to bring our worship leadership—everything from our planning and preparation to our leadership in the moment—into increasing conformity with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Changing the Conversation About Same-Sex Attraction (YM/PT)
Speaker: Sharon Hersh
If statistics are accurate, 50% of your ministry will either be in a same-sex relationship or considering one. A recent survey by the National Center for Youth Issues discovered that over 80% of adolescents who identify themselves as Christians do not understand what the big deal is about same-sex relationships. I’m afraid we’ve become like the parents in the Charlie Brown cartoons – making noise when we talk, but not offering much meaning. We need to change the conversation about same-sex relationship. Rather than feeling offended or afraid, we can see these conversations as an opportunity to invite others to a banquet of grace. Rather than speaking from the power of dogmatism, we can speak with the purpose of humility. Rather than turning away in condemnation or uncomfortability, we can anticipate these conversations as way to expose the brilliance of the Gospel and to teach about Biblical sexuality.
In this workshop, we will talk about how we can turn what often can be seen as an uncomfortable conversation into a blessing.
Developing Student Leaders Who Make an Impact (YM)
Speaker: Doug Franklin
As Christ followers we are called to go into the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. It’s going to take leaders to do this work. People who will stand in the stream of culture and point people to the Gospel.
In this session Doug Franklin will lay out the three (3) foundational leadership principles that youth workers can teach students for them to own their faith and live out the Gospel. You will experience these principles through fun activities, leadership assessments, and learning exercises. You will leave equipped and confident to teach your students leadership. We’ll even talk about the best practices and available resources to help you get off to the best start possible.
Gospel Centered Youth Ministry in the Asian Church (YM)
Speaker: Clark Fobes
When it comes to Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry, many of the things we talk about include: Gospel-centered preaching, encouraging parents to be the main disciples of their kids, and students being part of the larger church body. However, when it comes to the Asian Church context, these things are often not present in Youth Ministry, nor are they always plausible. How do we lead Gospel-Centered Youth Ministries in churches where it seems near impossible? How can we shape our Youth Ministries around these healthy practices when our context has great cultural and language barriers that prevent us from doing so? In this workshop, we will look at common barriers in the Asian Church, and how the Gospel-Centered Youth Pastor can strive for a healthy, Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry.
Guiding Teens Through Unexplainable Grief- Lessons from Job and His Friends (YM/PT)
Speaker: Gordon Bals
Adolescence is fraught with difficulty and trial and too often as youth leaders or parents we are like Job’s friends – we focus on horizontal issues and give advice on how to help teens make their life better. Like Job, they feel missed and remain lost not knowing how to reconnect with God through the chaos and pain. This talk will ground you in how to shepherd teens through difficulty so that they experience a richer taste of the Lord and the Gospel.
Home Base Parenting (PT)
Speaker: Gordon Bals
When children play “Hide and Seek” the only place of rest from your enemy is HOME BASE. That childhood game can be a picture of real life. Home should be a place where children are grounded and nurtured in the Gospel so they can dodge the enemy. Too often parents focus on issues such as good behavior, sexual purity and athletic or academic achievement in a way that diminishes rootedness in Christ and fruitful Christian living. Join Dr. Bals as he helps us think through how we might further root and nurture our teens in the glory and beauty and discipline of the gospel. Our time together will include instruction on gospel-centered parenting as well as a time of Q & A.
How Do We Exegete Pop Culture? (YM)
Speaker: Walt Mueller
Whether you realize it or not, all youthworkers are called to a cross-cultural missions endeavor. In today’s emerging postmodern cultural landscape – and for whatever lies beyond – it’s increasingly important for youthworkers to not only know the unchanging Word, but also to know and understand our rapidly changing cultural context. In this seminar, Walt takes participants through the Apostle Paul’s engagement with the pagan Athenian culture of Acts 17 and guides them into a practical understanding of how to engage the emerging generations of today’s world by doing Mars Hilll Ministry in today’s culture. He introduces participants to a ministry paradigm that seriously considers cultural expressions including media, music, film, and advertising to increase ministry effectiveness and ability to communicate God’s life-giving story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.
How the Young Youth Pastor Can Support and Lead Parents in Discipling Their Kids (YM)
Speaker: Walt Mueller
The Scriptures are clear: parents are primarily responsible for the Christian nurture of their children and teens. Youth workers are uniquely positioned to support Christian parents in their nurturing efforts, and to encourage parents who are not believers to understand both the Gospel and the call to pass faith from one generation to the next. In this seminar Walt will walk you through a variety of strategies he has learned over the course of the last 35 years that you can and must implement if you desire to help parents help their kids counter the cultural narrative on identity and worldview with the life-giving narrative of the Gospel.
Making Worship a Lifestyle for Kids, Not Just a Few Songs on Sunday (YM/PT)
Speaker: Zac Hicks
One of the great dangers for our kids is to think of worship as a box to check for an hour on Sunday rather than an all-encompassing orientation of one’s day to day life toward the glory of God. In this workshop, we will explore how to help our kids interpret the “liturgies” present in their everyday life and reorient themselves around what it means to be a “living sacrifice.”
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Media Messages and the Impact on Adolescent Body Image (YM/PT)
Speaker: Alice Churnock
In a culture of skinny jeans and thigh gaps, its no surprise that body dissatisfaction is at an all-time high with youth. Eating disorders are the “good girl’s” drug, often making church youth groups a breeding ground for the addiction. Learn to identify the warning signs of low body image, as well as how to address this difficult topic from a spiritual perspective.
What Do Parents Need From Their Youth Pastors? (YM)
Speakers: Kristen Hatton and Anna Harris
Pastoring teens is a high and difficult calling of great responsibility and influence in the life of a young person. The temptation to be relevant, liked, and “successful” can lead youth pastors to focus more on fun programs than the transformative word of the gospel. In this workshop, we will discuss what parents (and their kids) really need from their youth pastors and churches. In particular, we will focus on how youth pastors can partner with parents for the benefit of student, parent, and pastor.
Practical Guidelines for One-to-One Discipleship (YM)
Speaker: Julie Moser
Most Christians understand the importance of discipleship, however, many of us often don’t know how to get started or what to do when you meet with someone one-to-one. This workshop is designed to equip individuals in the practical “how to’s” to disciple another person/persons in the faith and give you the confidence to make this a natural part of your Christian ministry.
Preaching the Whole Counsel of God (YM)
Speaker: Julius Kim
Based on Julius Kim’s new preaching book from Zondervan, this workshop will provide an introduction to the primary elements involved in the preparation and presentation of gospel-centered sermons from all the Scriptures–with special attention given to the unique context of youth ministry. Both the interpretive and communicative parts of the preaching task will be discussed, from genre analysis and typology to the influence of neuroscience on preaching.
A Psychological Perspective of Spiritual Formation (YM/PT)
Speaker: Brent Bounds
In this workshop we will look at developmental theories of Piaget and Erikson and how they might inform our communication of theological concepts to our children.This is a fun, engaging and practical time of exploring the developmental stages and how they influence a person’s understanding of God.
Reorienting Our Teens to the Truth Social Media Distorts (YM/PT)
Speaker: Kristen Hatton
Synopsis: Walk into a room full of teenagers and quite possibly every one of them will be on their phone, more engaged online than with each other. With so much happening behind the screen it’s hard for parents to keep up, or know what is really going on. And it is easy for teens, seeking an identity in false places, to fall prey to a lifestyle of comparison and the lie of perfection. What will it take to reorient them back to the truth social media distorts? How can we enter in to help them process what they see and evaluate their social media use through gospel-centered lenses? What truths do they need to hear?
Teaching Junior High Students Scripture (YM)
Speaker: David Ake
In the middle of a hectic week of building relationships and shepherding students, you sit down at your desk for the weekly challenge of crafting a message from God’s Word that is engaging, relevant, understood and substantive. In this workshop we will look at timeless tools and structures for teaching Scripture on a regular basis, building opportunities for personal and relational follow up with students and developing a process to identify and coach Junior High students to grow in their skills and passion for God’s Word.
Teaching the Teenage Mind: Communicating Spiritual Concepts Effectively to Adolescent Brains (YM/PT)
Speaker: Brent Bounds
Communicating abstract, spiritual concepts is challenging regardless of the audiences age, but it’s particularly difficult with teenagers. How is a sixth grader’s mind different from a twelfth graders? How do you teach them differently? Come learn the differences in how a teenage mind processes information in order to lead more effective Bible studies and more engaging talks.
The Anatomy of Addiction (YM/PT)
Speaker: Sharon Hersh
Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, pornography, or just the incessant use of social media and smart phones, addictive behavior is all around us. In fact, recent studies suggest that there is not a family in America that is not affected by addiction. In this workshop, we will exam the physical, emotional, and spiritual anatomy of all addiction and how that can lead us to the possibilities of redemption. We will discuss ways to understand and serve teens who demonstrate addictive behavior or who have family members who struggle with addiction. There is not greater context in which to understand freedom than in looking at the lies and truth about addiction.
The Gospel & the Anatomy of Shame: Inviting Our Students to More (YM/PT)
Speaker: Liz Edrington
Parents and youth pastors both observe a number of concerning behavioral trends among teens: withdrawal, anxiety, and perfectionism. So many students complain about stress or bury themselves in Netflix or their smart phone. Many of these struggles can be interpreted by understanding shame, which pervades our culture. This workshop will give youth ministers and parents the tools to better understand the anatomy of shame at both a psychological and theological level. It will show how the Gospel provides hope for us in helping to bring students out of the isolation and fear that shame so often produces.
Theology of the Cross v. Glory: How We Theologically Misunderstand Our Kids (YM/PT)
Speaker: Cameron Cole
For years churches and families have ministered to kids through moralism and exhortation. We tend to minister to kids through a theology of glory. Martin Luther critiqued the theology of glory in launching the Protestant Reformation and articulated the theology of the cross. This workshop will show how the different approaches influence our spiritual leadership of kids. It will talk about how the Cross changes the way we relate to and lead kids. It will offer specifics on how it changes our teaching, how we pastor to them in suffering, and how we disciple them.
Why Ferris Bueller NEEDED a Day Off: The Realities of Teen Stress and Anxiety (YM/PT)
Speaker: Alice Churnock
AP classes. ACT scores. Football scholarships. Prom dates. The list of teen stressors is a mile long, and even more intensified with divorce, death and other major life crises. In this session, we’ll explore the stages of adolescent development and stress’ impact on the body and brain. Learn strategies for helping youth (and yourself!) manage stress more effectively.
You Can Have It All: Building a Youth Ministry that Strengthens Christians and Welcomes Non-Christians (YM)
Speaker: Syler Thomas
In youth ministry, some of us have been told that you can only do one thing or another at one time. You can either disciple your Christian students or be a place that targets those outside the church. But what if you could do both? What if your youth ministry could be a place where Christians are strengthened, outsiders are welcomed, and God is central? Drawing on 19 years as a youth pastor in suburban Chicago, Syler will explain how you can have it all! All of your wildest dreams come true! (Hey, the Cubs won the World Series. Anything is possible, right?)