2017: Go in Peace: Church as Mission

Looking for resources from the Gathering? 

All available podcasts and documents are posted below with their descriptions . You can also discuss the Gathering and see pics from our time together on the Facebook page. General documents, including the full schedule, plenary discussion questions, campus map and other info. are available here.


In this gathering we will explore the missional identity of God, the ecclesial prerequisites of mission, the peaceable nature of Christian witness, and the missional dimensions of peace. We hope to shed gospel light on the perplexing cultural challenges facing the church in mission and consider again the invitation to be the church in this challenging age.


The 2017 Gathering took place at the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center in Techny, IL from July 7-9. Schedule summary:

  • Thursday: lunch, worship, plenary/discussion, pizza dinner
  • Friday: breakfast, morning prayer, plenary/discussion, plenary/discussion, lunch, workshops, banquet and foot-washing service
  • Saturday: breakfast, morning prayer, plenary/discussion, worship, depart at noon 

Plenary sessions

“Treasure in Clay Pots: Church as Mission” – Gayle Gerber Koontz 

The New Testament suggests a high calling for the church—to be a light to the nations and to join in God’s reconciling mission on earth. But how can a cracked, leaky and sometimes broken pot—God’s church—communicate good news to the world? To what extent do Christians need to repent for historical mission initiatives gone awry and what would this entail? What does an understanding of the gospel as God’s peacemaking initiative toward and among humans mean for the church in mission and the church as mission? 

“Becoming the Gospel of Peace” – Michael Gorman

Paul is seldom thought of as a successor to the prophetic voices calling for God’s people to practice shalom. But the God of peace and the peace of God are rich Pauline motifs with significant implications for our life together as the body of Christ, who made peace by the blood of his cross. This plenary explores the theme of peace and peacemaking as central missional practices in the life of the church, with suggestions for embodying the peace of God in these troubling times.

Michael Gorman is a professor at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he holds the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology— a United Methodist in a Catholic institution with strong ecumenical commitments. His goal as a biblical theologian is to bring every thought captive to Christ — that is, Christ crucified, resurrected, and coming, with special emphasis on the cross as the definitive self-revelation of the triune God.

Resurrecting Church – Shane Claiborne

Amid the ruins of an abandoned cathedral where homeless families were living, Shane and his community caught a fresh vision of what it means to be the Church. With ancient stories of the early Christians and contemporary stories of ordinary radicals, Shane invites us to re-imagine what it means to be the Body of Christ alive in the world and what it looks like when the church lives out the mission of God’s peace in a localized way. Let’s move beyond complaining about the Church we see and start becoming the Church we dream of.

Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist, sought-after 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 most recently Executing Grace (June 2016). He is the visionary founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and Executive Director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

Engaging the Antagonisms of Our Culture: The Peculiar Challenges of Mission in a Post-Christendom World – David Fitch

A post-Christendom culture is one that is no longer aligned or even friendly with the Christian church(es). Yet it is different from non- or pre-Christendom cultures. In post-Christendom, there are lingering struggles for power as well as cultural resentment, all left over from the church’s former alignments. Because such antagonisms are inherently violent, churches seeking to bear witness to Christ’s peaceful kingdom must not participate in them. Ideology runs on antagonism. People rally around what they are against. Real issues become ensconced in objects that we aim our angst at. These same ideological ways too often drive the mission of churches today. Just look at how Christians have recently engaged racism, other religions, and LGBTQ sexualities. How else might the church be present and open space for God’s Kingdom to come in the world? David outlines a missional politic of fullness in Christ versus the empty politic of ideology, which is made possible by faithfully practicing His presence in the world.

David Fitch is Betty R. Lindner Chair of evangelical theology at Northern Seminary, Chicago. Besides teaching, he directs Northern’s programs in Theology and Mission. He is an ordained pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and currently pastors the Peace of Christ Church in Westmont IL, a suburb of Chicago. He writes and presents regularly on culture, politics, political theory, ecclesiology and mission. His most recent book is Faithful Presence: 7 Disciplines That Shape the Church For God’s Mission (IVP). He is married to Rae Ann and they have one child, a son Max. He is also a PeeWee Hockey coach for the YMCA.

Workshops (no audio available for workshops)

Session 1 workshops 

(descriptions for the first workshop session are here)

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

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

Impractical Theology
Led by Members of Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN

Christian Troublemakers: Another Way of Doing Life
Led by Shane Claiborne

The Restorative Church: Balancing Communal and Missional Dimensions of Peacemaking
Led by Ted Lewis

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

Spiritual Direction: Love of the Trinity as the Basis of Mission
Led by Dale Gish

Session 2 workshops -book studies

Bevans, Stephen B. and Roger P. Schroeder. Prophetic Dialogue: Reflection on Christian Mission Today. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011. Facilitated by Susan Adams and Katy Lines.  link

Fitch, David. Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines that Shape the Church for Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016. Facilitated by author.  link

Gorman, Michael J. Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation and Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015. Facilitated by author. link

Kreider, Alan. The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016. Facilitated by Stan Wilson.  link

Nugent, John C. Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016. Facilitated by author.  link

Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2013. Facilitated by Therese Lysaught. link

Smith, Chris and John Pattison. Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014. Facilitated by Chris Smith.  link

Sparks, Paul, Tim Soerens, and Dwight J. Friesen. The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014. Facilitated by Danny Fong. link


Opening worship preacher: Kelly Johnson of Holy Trinity Parish, Dayton, OH. Kelly is the Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Dayton University. (introduction from Steve Long)


Footwashing: Ray Schulte, St. Raphael Catholic Church, Naperville, IL. Ray is the Managing Director at Center for Parish Development in Palatine, IL.

Closing worship: Brent Laytham, Grace United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Md. Brent is professor of theology and dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. 



Special Needs

  • The Ekklesia Project is committed to offering aid to person with financial needs. If this pertains to you, please contact the gathering planner, John Nugent, at epgathering@gmail.com. We also encourage those with greater financial resources to donate additional funds to help make this possible.
  • The Ekklesia Project does not offer childcare. Parents are welcome to bring their children and will be given the opportunity to meet other parents and perhaps coordinate with one another. Several parts of the program are child friendly, as are the facilities at Techny Towers.
  • The Ekklesia Project is able to accommodate certain dietary and handicap accessibility needs. You will be given the opportunity to communicate these needs while completing the registration form.

Transportation & Off-Site Lodging