2018 Theme Speakers
Friday morning: Jason Brian Santos
Killing Church Softly: How Age and Stage Ministry is Killing the Church
There is a growing concern in North American culture around the hemorrhaging of youth and young adults from mainline congregations. Perhaps, we shouldn’t be so surprised. For the last half-century, we’ve increasingly formed our children and youth through developmentally centered, peer-oriented ministry programs that removed them from the corporate life of the church. Recent research suggests that we might have taken the ages and stages model of ministry a little too far. This keynote explores the history of that trend through generational theory and sheds light on what we must do to save the church.
Rev. Dr. Jason Brian Santos, Ph.D. is the Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation (Christian education, children, youth, college, young adult, camps and conference ministries) at the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PCUSA). He also serves as the National Director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries. He is an ordained teaching elder in the PCUSA and holds a Ph.D. in practical theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of A Community Called Taizé (IVP, 2008) and Sustaining the Pilgrimage (IVP Academic, forthcoming). He currently resides in Louisville, KY with his wife, Shannon and his two sons, Judah and Silas (aka Tutu). In his spare time, he plays and designs board games.
Saturday morning: Katherine Douglass
Imaging God This keynote will equip leaders with tools to use encounters with art, and art making, to build interpersonal connections within their ministries, invite youth to express their faith (and doubt), and challenge youth to open up to seeing God’s image in people who are of a different gender, race, class, or ability in new ways. Theologically, we will consider the difference between seeing each person as valuable because of the reality that they bear the image of God and bearing the image of Christ. We will use our new ways of seeing, informed by Scripture, to consider how we move youth toward living lives marked by the image of Christ, which will shift their perspective from simply valuing those who are different to being “with and for” them.
Katherine M. Douglass is an Assistant Professor of Ministry at Seattle Pacific University and an ordained minister in the PC(USA). Katie directs The Confirmation Project, a study on the practice of confirmation within mainline protestant denominations within the US. Her research interests are on the role that culture and the arts play on faith formation.
Saturday evening: Rebecca Anderson
The word of God from the People of God (Or: How many times can you say $&#@ in one service?) As people of faith, we have always valued stories for the meaning they carry and convey. But in some new and particular ways, storytelling is having a moment. In many cities, you can hear live true stories almost every night of the month — and the venues are packed with people who are hungry for the connection, vulnerability, and community that storytelling creates. As church, we should be listening, learning, and participating. After all, we’re not new to storytelling.
Let’s think outside our usual stories. Let’s expand what "counts" as a story worth telling in a faith community. Let’s invite the people we’re church with — or hope to be — to tell their stories, with the assurance that all of who they are and what they tell is truly welcome.
Rebecca Anderson comes to storytelling via stand-up comedy, playwrighting, and preaching. She's been on Snap Judgment (radio), The Broad Experience (podcast), and a Risk! live event. In Chicago, Rebecca has worked with companies and events like 2nd Story, The Moth, This Much is True, the Truth or Lie series, and Do Not Submit. She's a founding pastor at GileadChicago.org, a new inclusive church where they tell true stories that save lives. She's also the founder of EarshotStories.com that works with non-profits and faith communities to tell their stories. When not telling stories or having coffee with strangers (that's how you start a church), Rebecca loves to garden, forage for Juneberries, and make things on her loom. She'll run outside year-round but won't bike into a headwind.