Opening Intensives

When Tolerance is Intolerable

Dr. Duffy Robbins
This seminar is designed to help you think with your students about some fundamental issues that they face in everyday cultural engagement. Two fundamental questions:
  1. Is there such a thing as right or wrong?
  2. Do we ever have the right to decide that someone is doing something wrong?
Three terms: condemnation, judgement, and tolerance Three practical questions:
  1. How are we supposed to respond to sin?
  2. Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to judge each other?
  3. What right do I have to confront someone else about their sin?

Five Pillars of Intentional Youth Ministry

Doug Franklin
In this workshop Doug will present five pillars of intentional youth ministry and how they work together to impact a student’s life. We will discuss how to recruit and train relational volunteers, the relationship between mission, strategy, and programming, the process of discipleship, how to create a healthy relationship with parents, and how to equip students to lead. This fast-paced practical workshop will drive innovations for both the beginner and veteran youth worker.

Talking to Youth about Tough Topics

Julie Lowe
Young people are growing up in an increasingly godless world, while also in deep need for wisdom and discernment to navigate it. More than ever, they need to know how to traverse the dangers around them – drugs, alcohol, pornography, abuse, etc. We should not be afraid to talk with confidence and with hope to our children about such things. To take seriously the need to equip our kids to live in this world and not be of it, we must talk about the hard things. They must know we have something helpful to say, and we must instill in them the resources to do so. If we teach them well, doing so will raise competent kids.

Enfolding Students with Disabilities into Youth Ministry

Ashley Belknap

As students with unique needs (diagnosed and undiagnosed) transition from children’s ministry to youth ministry, youth leaders and volunteers will have questions. They may wonder, “How can I support these students’ needs and continue to meet the needs of the entire group?” If you feel that you do not intuitively know how to meet the needs of some of your students, this class is for you. In this class, you will learn a philosophy of ministry that will help you make disability ministry part of your existing youth programming without changing everything you are already doing. The goal is to help you disciple, enfold, and build a strong relationship with every student. Participants will also have an opportunity to ask specific acute-needs questions and get real-time answers on strategies to support your students.

Plenary Sessions

Walking With Wisdom

Darby Strickland
Working with today’s youth requires you to speak into many issues that our churches are struggling to navigate. It is tempting to be overwhelmed or to feel inadequate. This session will help remind us of the faithfulness of the one with whom you walk and why your relationship with Jesus is the most vital element in your ministry.

Speaking Words of Life

Darby Strickland
Wisdom literature draws us in by painting pictures and posing riddles. In caring for others, we, too, should seek to draw people in, asking them to share their lives with us. Though we serve as mentors, we still strive to lean into Scripture alongside one another. As we walk together on the path of life we showcase the Lord’s care and his ways, inviting others to live differently in light of new realities.


Effective Bible Teaching to Mixed-Ability Youth Groups

Ashley Belknap
This seminar will focus on strategies for Bible teaching that go a step beyond sitting and listening in a lecture-style Sunday school or large group. Participants will learn appropriate long-term and short-term goals when teaching students the Bible. You will learn ways to discern the needs of your students individually (for 1:1 and small groups) and collectively (for large groups). We will discuss ways to adjust your teaching for the present needs in the classroom and creative ways to increase support for students with greater needs without changing your entire strategy. This seminar will also help you understand the basics of unique learning differences, the place for motivation, and ways to increase each student’s ability to pay attention.

Moving From Teaching to Discipleship

Doug Franklin
Join Doug as he takes an intentional look at the “why” and the “how” behind discipleship. Learn practical tips and tricks for building meaningful relationships, sharing personal stories, asking intentional questions, helping students make life applications, and holding students accountable. Even if you’ve never been discipled yourself, you’ll learn guiding principles that can be applied to your own discipleship relationships or taught to other volunteers on your team.

Understanding and Teaching God’s Design for Sex and Gender (2 sessions)

Dr. Walt Mueller
Our children and teens are growing up in a world where “It’s all up to you!” is the mantra that guides – or more accurately mis-guides – our students into embracing and living out ideologies on sex and gender that undermine their human flourishing. In this two-part seminar, Walt will walk you through how the Sex Positive movement and LGBTQ+ ideologies are forming the beliefs and behaviors of our kids, along with how and what to teach about the beauty of God’s sex-and-gender-positive design. as the path to spiritual growth, relational growth, and sexual flourishing.

Giving a Talk: From Mouth to Ear to Mind to Heart

Dr. Duffy Robbins
It doesn’t take long in youth ministry to realize that giving a talk is not the same thing as being given a hearing. This seminar will offer you a chance to think about the three basic components of a spoken message and to understand the why and how of inductive communication. You will walk away from this session with a better sense of how to prepare and deliver an effective message to your students.

Sabbath Rhythms for Life and Ministry: Fostering Peace and Avoiding Burnout

Dr. John Perritt
The biblical truth of Sabbath is one that often stirs up notions of debate, disagreement and misunderstanding. At the core of this truth, we see a loving and gracious God guarding his children from overwork, stress and burnout. This class highlights our gracious Father and sets forth practical boundaries to foster rest in life and ministry.

Effective Strategies for Ministering to Parents

Kyle Hoffsmith and Dr. Walt Mueller
Because God gives parents primary responsibility for the spiritual nurture of their children and teens, youth workers need to see themselves as not only a secondary spiritual influence, but as influencers and supporters of parents as they fulfill their God-given roles. Youth ministry affords us great opportunities to minister to parents, whether those parents are actively involved in the spiritual nurture of their own kids or unaware of that responsibility. In this seminar, Walt and Kyle will offer up a brief theology of parent ministry, along with a number of effective strategies and resources for encouraging, educating, and supporting parents. Walt will offer insights from his decades-long experience of ministry to parents, and Kyle will share the strategies he is enlisting in his current local church youth ministry.

Supporting Students with Challenging Behaviors

Ashley Belknap
One prominent goal in student ministry is effective discipleship of every student. Students who exhibit challenging behaviors in youth ministry—as a result of their growth and development or unique needs related to a disability—are often left behind in their growth spiritually and relationally. In this seminar, you will learn ways every student ministry leader or volunteer can positively support challenging behaviors in youth ministry. We will discuss how to understand behavior as communication. You will receive strategies for increasing appropriate communication, reducing problem behaviors, and helping all students grow into emotionally strong young adults. You will also learn ways to frame motivation through the lens of the gospel.

Developing Students as Leaders

Doug Franklin
The Leadership Pathway is a tool designed to help you answer the question, “How do I develop leaders in my ministry? You’ll learn a simple, practical, and straightforward approach to leadership development that can help you train and equip student leaders, moving them from participant to leader.

Equipping Students to Make Wise and Biblical Decisions

Marty Sweeney
Students make hundreds of decisions every day and begin to make bigger decisions in their teenage years that set the trajectory for the rest of their lives. How do students know what God wants them to do, where to go to college, and who to marry one day? Beyond that, how do youth workers communicate these things to them? In this seminar we will explore how to train and equip students to make decisions that honor God and are in line with the Bible.

Discipleship of the Teenage Mind

Kyle Hoffsmith
So many thoughts go in and out of the minds of teenagers! As youth workers we need to strategically consider how to disciple their minds so they can think wisely today in the midst of a culture that makes it difficult for them to follow the Lord. This seminar will include learning about how to minister to students and how to train and equip youth leaders in your church to disciple the minds of teenagers.

The Path of Foolishness and How to Pursue Wisdom

Julie Lowe
The author of Proverbs speaks passionately of two paths in life—the way of the wise, and the way of a fool. He speaks urgently, knowing that folly can persuade our desires to the point where foolishness appears right and good. Ultimately, folly not only harms ourselves and others, but it also begins to shape us as people. Like the author of Proverbs, we want to discern between wisdom and folly, and we want to speak persuasively, inviting the foolish to wisdom. In this session, we will consider together the deceptive nature of folly and the dangerous path that it can lead us down, and we aim to grow in engaging with folly, both for ourselves and for those in our lives.

How Shall They Live?: Equipping Students To Navigate Culture With Wisdom and Discernment

Dr. Walt Mueller
Living and growing up in today’s rapidly changing youth culture means that our students face countless decisions regarding what to believe and how to live. Social media, the peer group, schools, film, music, television, etc. . . all dispense belief systems that shape our students’ behaviors both now and for the rest of their lives. Youth culture is catechizing them 24/7. While our youth ministries endeavor to lead young people to faith in Jesus Christ, they must also nurture students into choosing what to believe and how to live. . . all to the glory of God. In this seminar, Walt will teach you a methodology to equip students, leaders, and parents to put on the wise and discerning mind of Christ so that they will engage with culture critically and Christianly in their daily lives, choosing truth over error and right over wrong.

Equipping Students to Grow in Wisdom and Discernment through Your Ministry to Youth and Their Parents

Kerry Trunfio
In this seminar, we will look at the many voices that have an impact on the lives of students. Where are students looking for wisdom? How do we equip them to turn to Scripture for wisdom and discernment? Christian parents have a desire for their children to grow in Godly wisdom, but it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. During our time together we will discuss the importance of youth ministry involving not only the teens that we as youth worker’s have the opportunity to walk with, but with their caregivers as well.

Helping Youth Embrace God’s Call to Build His Kingdom

Dr. David Correa López
For many teenagers their purpose in life is greatly influenced by a culturally-exacerbated self-centeredness as they aspire toward adulthood. This reality is creating a significant challenge for the Church and our ministry to students. This seminar will explore the biblical theology of God’s call to young people to serve Him as builders of His Kingdom and present a Kingdom-orientation for youth ministry as a response to this challenge.

A Heart of Wisdom

Dr. Jason Engle
In this seminar Jason will focus on Paul’s Philippian prayer and show how our affections play a vital role in cultivating wisdom and growing into spiritual maturity. He will show how the Scriptures teach about heart…or affectional alignment in discipleship. In this prayer, Paul presents rightly aimed affections (a heart that is in alignment with God’s heart) as the key to gaining spiritual discernment, which is essential to gaining and living out true wisdom. We will also discuss the importance of having a holistic understanding of who our students are so that we can help them grow as holistic disciples who know and treasure Jesus in every area of life.

Send Your Students on a 9 Month Mission Trip

Travis Deans
Reading Luke 9 and 10, it’s clear that part of Jesus’ discipleship training was to send his followers out to do ministry. LIkewise, equipping our students and encouraging them to “do ministry” will deepen their relationship with Christ. One way in particular is to send them on a “9 Month Mission Trip” – to their schools. Join Travis in this seminar to learn more about an accessible and practical tool for equipping and encouraging your students to reach their students at their school with the gospel.

Leading from Theology to Methodology (and not vice versa)

Michael Hall
As ministry leaders we are called to preach, teach, and model the great doctrines of The Faith to the students and families we serve. We desire that they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in his name. While our knowledge of the Bible, theology, and the gospel is often apparent (and even growing!), deciding what to do in ministry is often not so clear. It’s common for our methodology (what we say and do) to inadvertently become out of alignment with our doctrine. In this seminar Michael will introduce you to a web of presuppositions, principles, and goals that shape our approach to ministry…a set of convictions that help us evaluate what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what needs to change. This “philosophy of ministry” is a tool that can enable us to lead ministries that are Christ-centered and theologically reflective.

The Ministry of Nurture: Helping Teenagers to Grow Spiritually

Dr. Duffy Robbins
At the end of the day, what really matters about ministry is making disciples: building in our students a deeper and more faithful walk with Christ. But what does that look like? How does it work? This seminar identifies key traits of teenage discipleship, and suggests practical ways for building these traits into our students.

Teaching Gospel Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs

Dr. Scott Shidemantle
All too often, youth workers tend to approach the Wisdom Literature of the Bible, including the Book of Proverbs, as a collection of “moralisms” disconnected from the Gospel. What would it look like to teach from Proverbs in such a way that we make the Gospel really clear without devolving into the kind of legalistic moralism that is too often seen in broader evangelicalism? In this seminar Scott will provide a practical approach, examples, and resources for how to teach the Gospel from the wisdom of Proverbs.