2017 Gathering Workshops I


Discipleship as Mission: The Apprenticeship Adventure
Led by Tim Otto and other members of Church of the Sojourners (Rm 409)

For 10 years the Church of the Sojourners has offered a yearlong discipleship experience in the context of a church community. We’ve seen this as a way of reaching out to people who are looking for a practical way of going deeper in faith. In this seminar we share the practices and forms that make up the experience, as well as lessons we’ve learned in the process.

Tim Otto is one of the co-pastors at the Church of the Sojourners. After 28 years in intentional Christian community, he has some stories to tell and some he has been paid not to tell.

Journey of Learning and Love: A Way Forward from Vision Statements & Strategic Plans Led by Mark Lau Branson (Rm 219)

When churches desire to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods, to discern how God is present and initiating so they can participate, they are on a journey of learning and love. We may become aware of our reticence, or our over-reliance on programs and staff, or simply our loss of relational connections. The journey ahead is an adventure with challenges. Habits regarding attention and time and priorities and comfort and ethos run deep. This workshop engages practices, theology, and leadership processes that can serve churches that want to go on the journey. Vision statements, strategic plans, and even mission committees are seldom significant factors in how we discern God’s initiatives and live among our neighbors. But there are ways we can listen and learn a way forward. Expect this workshop to be interactive and conversational, shaped by participants.

Long-time EPer Mark Lau Branson is a professor of congregational life and mission (at Fuller Theological Seminary), a consultant with The Missional Network, and an author of books that engage these topics of practical theology. Mark’s Ed.D is in International and Multicultural Education (University of San Francisco). His books include Memories, Hopes & Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry, Missional Engagement, and Congregational Change (2nd ed); Churches, Cultures & Leadership (with Juan Martinez); and Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood (with Nicholas Warnes).

Impractical Theology
Led by Members of Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN (Rm 400)

For decades we’ve had a long-standing practice at Englewood of providing ourselves theoretical, abstract theological propositions–topics such as the Triune God, the Lordship of Christ and the Blood of the Cross. We also have more practical theologies that might be demonstrated in the following phrases: “Churches don’t have businesses;” “If we take money from the Government they will suck our souls right out of us;” “We just don’t have the resources we need to take care of these problems;” and “If we entreat God and are pure of heart, he will be among us (as we worship).” Theologies that actually determine what we do. At some point we began looking at these core operating beliefs and comparing them to what we find in Scripture and the other histories of the church. We questioned our understanding of church like a “story problem” in math. What’s going on in the story? Which are the important parts of the story and which are merely distractions? What resources and assets do we have to understand and address the situation? Real questions asked of real situations have become the basis for a practicable daily theology. In this workshop, we discuss the process we used to develop this practicable daily theology.

Christian Troublemakers: Another Way of Doing Life
Led by Shane Claiborne (Rm 514)

Christians are meant to be radical non-conformists, interrupting the patterns of our world with prophetic imagination – a holy counterculture. In this workshop, Shane shares stories of contemporary communities who are living with beautiful creativity and sometimes getting in a little trouble for it. After all, the Kingdom of God is not just something we hope for when we die, but something that we are to bring on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s turn off our TVs, pick up our Bibles, and rethink the way we live.

Shane Claiborne is an author, activist, speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of numerous books, including The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President, and his newest book, Executing Grace (June 2016). He is the founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, and Executive Director of Red Letter Christians.

The Restorative Church: Balancing Communal and Missional Dimensions of Peacemaking
Led by Ted Lewis (Rm 410)

While the start of the restorative justice movement 40 years ago owes much to biblical and church traditions of peacemaking and reconciliation, it is ironic that to this day most North American churches lack a basic fluency in matters related to conflict resolution and the mending of harms. The rise of intentionality around congregational formation can help church communities rediscover their biblical calling to be peace-pursuers both inwardly and outwardly. Through presentation, interactive learning, and discussion, this workshop maps out the various restorative practices for church groups in the three main realms of relational peacemaking: prevention processes, intervention processes, and post-incident healing processes. Out of this corporate inner work that promotes “cultures of apology and forgiveness” comes a greater capacity for churches to be missional toward a world in need of peacemaking.

Ted Lewis is a restorative justice mediator, trainer, and consultant, and works as a Communications Consultant for the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota. He also runs the Agape Peace Center in Duluth, MN (where he resides), providing workshops and presentations to church groups in the field of conflict transformation and peacemaking. Ted is an acquisitions editor for Wipf & Stock Publishers and has been associated with the folks at Church of the Servant King in Eugene since 2000.

Everyone Belongs to God: How It’s the Church’s Task to Prove It
Led by Charles Moore (Rm 218)

This workshop considers Christoph Blumhardt’s radical message that everyone belongs to God. Using this as our starting point for mission, the church, as a reconciled and reconciling community, is to incarnate the truthfulness of this message in its life together and in its many encounters with those outside its fold. Moore illustrates how this works, drawing from his experience in the Bruderhof, and contrasts it to other approaches.

Charles Moore is a member of the Bruderhof and resides at The Mount Community in Esopus, NY. In addition to teaching and pastoring, he is a blogger (http://www.bruderhof.com/en/voices-blog/our-authors/charles-e-moore), contributing editor and author for Plough Publishing, and co-editor of the Blumhardt Series (Cascade).

Spiritual Direction: Love of the Trinity as the Basis of Mission
Led by Dale Gish (Rm 407)

Too often, going deeper with God is seen as a distraction from mission. And spiritual direction can become an individualistic practice disconnected from the life of the church. Imagine, instead, spiritual direction as a way to open up individuals to the grace and love that God has for them. Out of that love and grace the church is built up, which empowers and equips the church for its mission. This workshop explores the role of spiritual direction in empowering mission, rather than distracting from mission.

Dale Gish is spiritual director and one of the leaders of Church of the Sojourners, a Christian intentional community in San Francisco. He is influenced by Anabaptism, Ignatian spirituality, and the evangelical tradition. He is also a long time endorser of the Ekklesia project.