Conference Theme Forums - Thursday 4:15-5:15pm

The Witness of the Spirit and the Mission of God

This gathering has been convened in light of a broad recognition and interest in the work of the Holy Spirit today. Some are witnessing fresh and exciting works of the Holy Spirit that we must pay attention to. Others are recognizing that the essentialness of life in the Holy Spirit has been lost or misshapen in their church or ministry contexts and are looking for guidance. Further still, nearly all Christian leaders recognize that the North American Church finds herself in a new and challenging mission context, creating the need for a new openness to the Spirit’s work. These forums are meant to provide an orienting space for the rest of our gathering by listening into these stories and longings and hearing from one another as we ask the pressing question, “In what areas does the Church need to recover the mission of the Spirit for faithful witness today?” Each forum will the same topic with each panel bringing a unique diversity of perspectives.

  • Group 1 (ASBC Sanctuary): Charlie Self (host), Greg Boyd, Mia Chang, Jin S. Kim, MaryKate Morse
  • Group 2 (ASBC Chapel): David Fitch (host), Greg Brewer, Wayne Faison, Charles Kiser, Cherith Nordling
  • Group 3 (DBC Sanctuary): JR Woodward (host), Tara Beth Leach, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, JB Smith, Donnell Wyche
  • Group 4 (DBC Fellowship Hall): Mandy Smith (host), Ira Antoine, Mark Love, Charles Montgomery, Nikki Toyama-Szeto
  • Group 5 (WSUMC Sanctuary): Bill Shiell (host), Jorge Acevedo, Aaron Richardson, Carla Sunberg, Rich Villodas
  • Group 6 (WSUMC Fellowship Hall): Steve Taylor (host), Tammy Dunnahoo, Kyuboem Lee, Esau McCaulley

Topical Forums - Friday 11:30am-12 :45pm

Beyond Personal Empowerment: The Ministry of the Spirit Among the Neighborhood

Over the course of the last decade there has been an increasing openness to the discernible action of the Holy Spirit among segments of the body of Christ that would have, historically, been very closed. Some have even suggested that there is a 4th wave of the Spirit that is upon us – the Spirit awakening new life in the Church for the sake of God’s mission. It is not primarily an increase in the outpouring of the Spirit for the “internal” life of the Church. Instead, this activity of the Spirit relates more to urging and empowering the Church toward a missionary encounter with the world. This forum will explore how the ministry of the Spirit relates to our engagement in your neighborhoods for the transformative purposes of God.  

DBC Sanctuary: Aaron Graham (host)

  • Ruth Padilla DeBorst
  • Charles Montgomery
  • Lisa Rodriguez-Watson
  • Charlie Self

Fighting the Spiritual War: Following the Spirit in Engaging the Principalities & Powers

In Paul’s final words in the letter to the Ephesians, he reminds us that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and the powers of the air.” While this is a well-known passage in the Bible, it is not a well-followed passage in the experience of most followers of Christ, especially most ministry leaders. Yet, the biblical record is consistent that there is an “unseen” realm that is involved in far more than we often recognize. The Holy Spirit engages in this realm and often finds conflict against other spiritual forces. This forum will explore how this occurs and how we can join the Spirit in this critical dimension of mission.  

ASBC Sanctuary: JR Woodward (host)

  • Greg Boyd
  • Greg Brewer
  • Jin S. Kim
  • Cherith Nordling

Greater Works:  Living with a Naturally Supernatural Power

Of the many reasons for Jesus coming, one of the most often overlooked is that he came to make way for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on “all flesh.” Dallas Willard was fond of saying that the Spirit was given in succession to Jesus so that Jesus might be everywhere that he needed to be – through the Church in particular.  John’s gospel reminds us that, “it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Clearly, the Spirit was sent to empower the Church to continue the ministry of Jesus beyond the time of his bodily presence. If that is true, how is it that so few Christians experience the sort of life that Jesus envisioned for us? Perhaps our discipleship needs a recovery of the Spirit. This forum will explore how a recovery of life in the Spirit leads to a more robust discipleship for followers of Jesus.  

WSUMC Sanctuary: Tara Beth Leach (host)

  • Tammy Dunahoo
  • Todd Hunter
  • MaryKate Morse
  • Donnell Wyche

Workshops & Encounters Session 1 - Friday 2:15-3:15pm


Missional Leadership in Politically Charged Times: The Powers, Politics and the Holy Spirit (J.R. Woodward & Justin Fung)

The central message of Jesus was the kingdom of God. This metaphor clearly shows his message deals with social and political realities. To be nonpartisan doesn’t mean to be nonpolitical. We must be for and against each party. Our political aim is to love like Jesus loved. Yet, the principality and powers of nationalism is served when the church is silent about social issues that dehumanize people made in God’s image. Come explore how the Holy Spirit can help Missional Leaders recognize, resist, renounce and potentially redeem the work of the principalities and powers in the church and in the world.  

The Spirit of Innovation:  Models for Breaking New Ground in Old Places (Jin Kim & Nathan Yoder)

Five years ago, a group of Anabaptist Christians committed to peace and justice launched the Reedley Peace Building Initiative (RPBI). RPBI is a collective strategy engaging the local police department, school district, and trained volunteers committed to using restorative justice principles to create a more peaceful, healthy and just community. This workshop will describe how the Spirit is using this program to restore relationships between victims and juvenile offenders, preventing offenders from committing further crimes, and promoting community involvement in a way that is transforming the this community.

Partnering with the Spirit in Formation (James Bryan Smith, Jan Johnson & Keas Keasler - Apprentice Institute)

Christian spiritual formation is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works through three main aspects of our lives: narrative (the stories we live by, and are living us), practices (spiritual disciplines) and community. When done rightly, we become Christ-like in character (love, kindness, compassion, power). But the formation of the individual is not the telos of spiritual formation. Ultimately, our formation is for mission. As Dallas Willard said, “God’s purpose in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons.” This workshop will explore how the Spirit forms us and how the Spirit sends us.

Discerning a Spirit-Guided Ecclesiology & Practice (Shannon Kiser & Verlon Fosner)

The New Testament reveals numerous stories when the Spirit directed the practical formation of the church. While numerous leaders in recent centuries have assumed the Spirit's engagement to be primarily for spiritual edification, the early apostles assumed the Spirit to also direct practical matters like who, when, where, and how their church should expand. Paul's Macedonian call was one such example, which will be discussed in this forum.

Becoming a New Kind of Charismatic: Entering into the Life of Spirit with as Little Baggage as Possible (Todd Hunter & Tammy Dunahoo)

Your sense of the Christian story, whether you are conscious of it or not, determines your view of the person and work of the Spirit. For instance, in a story about going to heaven when you die, we need atonement, the Father then grants it through the Son. But what role is there for the Spirit in such a story? None—or optional at best—a denominational consumer choice. But if we take the statements of Jesus serious in the Upper Room Discourse of John, and if we want to follow Jesus into the reality depicted by those teachings, we must learn an ongoing, conversational relationship with the Holy Spirit. Todd will help guide you into such a “safe and sane” way of doing so.

The Spirit of Holiness (Alan Hirsch & JoAnne Lyon)

The word "holiness" has gotten a bad wrap these days.  It often reminds of everything we don't like about Christianity.  Perhaps though it's time to recover the true meaning of holy living - a life empowered by the Spirit bearing the fruits of the Spirit with the gifts of the Spirit.  Ultimately, pointing to the one whom the Spirit points toward - Jesus himself.  Come and discover a "new" kind of holiness, that is, in fact, very old.

The Local Church & Economic Transformation: Wisdom from the Spirit Beyond Left & Right (Aaron Richardson & Charlie Self)

When the Spirit empowers the "whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole city" (Chris Wright), economic transformation happens in neighborhoods where the people of God see their work as worship and neighborly love. This seminar will offer real-time insights from current efforts in Detroit and resources on economic wisdom that transcend the current political polarization.

The Grace of Unanimity: Decision-Making under the Holy Spirit (Peter Mommsen & Esau McCaulley)

How can a church community be guided by the Holy Spirit in making decisions?  Whether it’s doctrine, discipline, leadership, or bread-and-butter issues, Christians all agree that the Spirit should lead us, but often disagree strongly on how.

For centuries, Anabaptist and Quaker communities have sought to make decisions through listening together to the Spirit, convinced that God speaks the same message to all who desire to hear him, in practical as well as spiritual questions. In the workshop, we’ll explore a New Testament vision for Spirit-led decision-making in the church.

**Part I: Q&A with Prof. N.T. Wright for Qualified Students (N.T. Wright) | ASBC 221

This Q&A session with Prof. Wright is reserved for those N.T. Wright Online students who have enrolled in the four courses identified in Awakenings correspondence. Please reserve your spot by signing up at the N.T. Wright Online table in the Sanctuary Lobby.


Created for Communion: Spirit-Led Healing Prayer (Carey & Gannon Sims)

We are all created for deep intimacy with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Like any relationship, intimacy takes time to develop and grow. Using Genesis 1-3, this session will create space for listening as we seek to hear God's voice and put it into practice.

Spiritual Encounter in Creative Expression: Reflective Art Prayer (Mandy Smith & Cyd Holsclaw)

We've made the Church a political power, an institution, a factory. But it's not who she is. Join this creative prayer time as we celebrate her true nature & pray for her mission. We’ll take part in a no-pressure reflective art project (which requires no artistic skill), inviting the Spirit to remind us how He sees His beautiful Ecclesia. Materials provided.

The Spirit of the Sabbath - Part 1: Recovering the Gift of Sabbath

At this encounter, pastor, author, and professor A.J. Swoboda will explore the biblical foundations of Sabbath, as described in Genesis, the Ten Commandments, and in the life of Jesus. He will also investigate the far-reaching implications of rest and how we might practically begin a practice of regular, God-ordained rest. Then, A.J. will also set up the second portion of this two-part workshop.

Workshops & Encounters Session 2 - Friday  3:30-4:30pm


5Q: Unleashing the Ministry of Christ in the Body of Christ (Alan Hirsch & David Bailey)

Based on the writing of his latest work, Alan Hirsch takes us on a really deep dive into the fivefold (APEST) typology of ministry as articulated in Ephesians 4:1-16,  Join him on an thrilling journey of discovery that locates the roots of APEST in the nature and purposes of of God, tracks how these are laced by the Spirit throughout creation and culture, how they reconstituted and perfectly exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus, are embedded into the the very foundations of the Church, and subsequently expressed through the lives of the countless saints that make it up.  By laying out a comprehensive model that incorporates deep theory as well as practice. 5Q is geared to change not only the conversation itself, but also the scorecard on how we understand calling, church, leadership, and organization.

Contemplative Charismatics: A Non-Dualistic approach (Brian Zahnd & Rich Villodas)

In this workshop, Brian Zahnd and Rich Villodas will explore the complementary nature of the contemplative and charismatic traditions. You will be exposed to Brian and Rich's journeys, a biblical framework for this integration and some helpful practices to further explore this in our lives.

Hearing God in Our Informational Echo Chambers:  How to Decipher God’s Voice When We're Drowning in Information Yet Thirsty for Transformation (AJ Swoboda & MaryKate Morse)

This workshop will explore the pervasive problem of informational gluttony in Western culture and the church. We will explore how leaders can learn to hear Gods voice within that culture. We will present effective spiritual practices for individual and group discernment.

Holy Spirit, Holy Script, Holy Improv: What the Spirit Wants Us to Do With the Bible (Glenn Paauw & Pavi Thomas)

What kind of Bible did the Holy Spirit inspire? Modernity has misframed the role of the Spirit with the Scriptures, giving us a Holy Reference Book. The Scriptures are actually God’s speech act—a collection of writings, telling a story, inviting us into a live drama. What are we to do with such a Bible? Biblical faithfulness means accepting God’s offer and initiating a Spirit-empowered improvisation of the story in our own time and place. 

How Can Families Grow Through Service Together? Integrating Spirit-Led Family Discipleship and Community Engagement.  (Wes Furlong & Akeia Rossiter)

How do we best connect ministry to families, discipleship, and service together? In light of recent trends in family structure and systems, this seminar will introduce some guiding values and best practices for Spirit-led and developmentally appropriate ways of drawing families onto mission with God.

Spirit-Empowered Work with Children & Youth (Hannah Gibney & Daniel Wrigley)

This workshop will explore what it means to walk young people through living a life led by the Spirit. Part story-telling and part-practical, this workshop will equip you to start dreaming those dreams for the younger generations of the church to know Him and to make Him known. Not to be missed if your heart is to see young people walk in the fullness that the Lord has for them!

The Black Evangelical Moment: Will the Rest of the Church Listen to the Spirit's Work among Black Evangelicals? (Esau McCaulley & Natasha sistrunk Robinson)

In the last 10–15 years, we have witnessed the growth of what seems to be a fresh expression of Christianity in the United States. I have given that expression the title of Black Evangelicalism.  This group can loosely be identified by three characteristics.  First, they betray some connection to wider evangelism either through evangelical seminaries, parachurch organizations, or Christian Hip Hop.  Second, this group for the most part is not directly connected to the historic black denominations. Third, and related to the first, they have nonetheless adopted many of the characteristics of the Black Christian tradition including preaching and music. They are neither fully integrated into the black church nor are they fully immersed in evangelicalism.  They are a third thing.  Most importance for this conference is the startling coherence of the theological program that is emerging from this corner of the church. I consider their program a work of the Spirit in our day.  It seems that they are calling for a union of orthodox theology and a demand for justice, particularly as it relates to the historic concerns of black folks in the United States. This stands in some contrast to the more justice oriented white evangelicals which, overall, tends to be slightly more progressive. They are Orthodox and woke and may point towards a brighter future for the church if we will listen.

The Church Among the World - On the How of Tending to The Holy Spirit’s Work in The World (Dave Fitch & Mandy Smith)

Is the Holy Spirit active in the world outside of the church? If so how do we His people discern His presence in the world? This workshop explores the theology of the Spirit’s presence in the world and how the church becomes faithfully present to His presence, participating in His work of healing the world, reconciling all things to Himself. Part of this presentation will discuss practical disciplines that shape a church to open space for the Spirit’s work in the world.

Utilizing the Charismatic Gifts in a Mission-Based Church (Verlon Fosner & Mia Chang)

There is an idea that the gifts of the Spirit are best reserved for mature saints; that would be a surprise to the first Apostles. While some have experienced a sanctuary-like version of the Spirit they feel might confuse unsaved persons, we will look at how the Spirit looks in jeans and a sweatshirt. We will also look at how to cooperate with the Spirit's gifts on the sidewalks and in community spaces among unchurched people.

**Part II: Q&A with Prof. N.T. Wright for Qualified Students (N.T. Wright) | ASBC 221

This Q&A session with Prof. Wright is reserved for those N.T. Wright Online students who have enrolled in the four courses identified in Awakenings correspondence. Please reserve your spot by signing up at the N.T. Wright Online table in the Sanctuary Lobby.


Prayer-Walking for the Sake of Mission (Shannon Kiser, Michael Beck, J.R. Briggs, Kristen Beckert)

There are many ways to be actively involved in blessing the communities and neighborhoods in which we live and work. One way is to pray for our community.

  • To go out in our community so that we have eyes to see and ears to hear what are the hurts, hopes, dreams, fears, and challenges.
  • To pray for and sometimes even with people we encounter along the way
  • To listen to where God is already at work and to join in with what God is already doing

This encounter will train participants in prayer walking, and then invite you out onto the streets of Alexandria, VA to practice it. Put on your walking shoes, and join us in this spiritual practice of listening and praying  for our communities.

Receive Prophetic Guidance & Words of Knowledge (Todd Hunter & Greg Brewer)

Operating in the gifts of the Spirit is an art.  There are few formulae that always "work" because the operation of the Holy Spirit is based out of relationships of trust, vulnerability and servanthood - both to Christ and with each other.  It is not a matter of technique, but yieldedness.  How can churches become places where the Holy Spirit moves in a way that draws others to Christ?