Pastors and Leaders 2020 and Deep Faith Workshops

Pastors and Leaders 2019 workshop

Workshop Titles and Presenters

This year Pastors and Leaders 2020 and Deep Faith are providing a wide range of engaging workshops to enrich your conference experience.

Like all addiction, sex addiction is self-harming behavior. Through the vehicle of faith, Jesus provides a mechanism for addicts to embrace the truth about themselves, love themselves as Jesus does, love Jesus, and love others. But just telling the addict these things usually falls short of resolving the addiction. Why? What can the church do to help congregants actually experience the healing they so desperately need. The workshop leader draws from his own multi-decade experience of unsuccessful and successful attempts at finding freedom from addiction to online pornography. This interactive workshop will help participants identify strengths within their own churches and resources outside of the church that can help sex addicts to break free of their addiction.

Jeff M. is a sex addict in recovery (10+ years) who has learned through his recovery process to teach by sharing his own experience. Involvement with healthy, vibrant churches helped him see he had a problem, but the resources within those particular churches didn't help. Joining 12-Step groups provided the fellowship of commonality and examples of success that he needed and ultimately, work with these groups has fed back into his faith.

What is the status of your congregation’s Anabaptist GPS? Recalculating? Lost signal? Where do people get their theological maps? What guides their direction while discerning the road signs broadcasted by popularized Christian and secular media, which may be tantalizing and even seem to make sense but often conflict with Anabaptist values?

Join in an exploration of many Anabaptist resources—Leader magazine, the forthcoming Salt & Light: Bible Studies for Anabaptist Christians, and others—that can serve as tools for helping your travelers (disciples) discern the best routes for carrying out the church’s mission in today’s world.

Sharon Williams is a pastor, trainer, consultant, minister of worship, editor and AMBS alumna.

The speaking preacher can be helped and/or muted by technology. Surely the weekly sermon is enhanced by online resources, podcasts and (in the moment of preaching) electronic amplification and images on the screen. Tech is great. At the same time, internet searches, following the latest hashtag and (in the moment of preaching) the microphone and images can mask and mute the embodied preacher and congregation. In other words, the preacher can easily hide behind multiple technologies. In addition to hearing from Allan, you will have a chance to share how you use internet resources in preaching. 

Allan Rudy-Froese is Associate Professor of Christian Proclamation at AMBS. He blends a heart for the church, preparation in communicating the Good News of the gospel, and infectious humor with the ministry of teaching students how to communicate with diverse audiences in the church and in current culture. His research brings homiletics, theology, biblical studies and performance theory to bear on preaching.

While social media algorithms advertise themselves as prioritizing meaningful interaction, in fact they privilege the content that receives the most engagement-reactions, comments, and shares whether it is meaningful (or helpful) or not. This means that thoughtful people in general and particularly those interested in Christian discipleship need to be wise in what (and how) they post, share and react to. This workshop will suggest some cognitive errors to be especially attuned to so that our social media interactions have the most chance of practicing the kind of discipleship and building the kind of communities to which we’re committed.

Rachel Miller Jacobs is the Associate Professor of Congregational Formation at AMBS and she teache in the areas of human development and Christian formation. As a Christian, professor, and previous pastor and spiritual director, she has many occasions to observe and work with the realities of human hurt, malformation and reactivity. She is interested in helping people extend that learning not only into their embodied interactions but also into their social media presences.

Many people over the centuries have used the ancient spiritual practice of fasting to draw closer to God, to address personal issues and to discern important decisions within the church. Our constant connection with digital media can wear on the mind, body and soul. How can this ancient practice help us in our digitally saturated culture? Discover how faith communities are using fasting to help people rest and how it is helping some find healing in many different ways.

Chris and Melody Riddle served with Virginia Mennonite Missions for eight years in Bari, Italy as church planters serving as pastors, teachers and mentors. Chris is an ordained pastor in Virginia Mennonite Conference and a 2006 graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary. They are a part of the Faith Communities Working Group which brings together people of various faith traditions to share ideas about how faith communities can have a positive impact in how people use their digital screen technology. 

Online dating continues to increase in popularity. Are you familiar with this medium, its strengths and challenges? How can biblical perspectives of directing our love to God and God’s covenantal love to us inform what the church communicates about relationships? What ways can the church appropriately support online dating with integrity? Learn together with Margaret, who found her spouse online and identifies God as her true love.

Margaret De Jong is a 2019 graduate of AMBS with an MDiv in Christian Faith Formation. She tried several online dating sites over a number of years, and found a great match on one of them. In spite of living on opposite sides of the ocean, they were very intentional about exploring their compatibility and involving others in the process. They have been blissfully and blessedly married since 2018. She will share from personal experience, as well as from thoughts initially developed in her academic paper on e-dating.

Digital culture has sped up the world, made cross cultural connections rich and easy to find and has given opportunities for many people that were never before imagined. The countercultural move then is to disconnect from digital culture and make time and space for contemplation, rich play, reconnection with the earth, bodies, and self. This will be framed for children and adults for Faith Formation of an incarnational theology.

Lora Nafziger is on the pastoral team at Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana. Her primary area of focus is faith formation for all ages. She has worked on ways to engage Sunday school for adults and children with more rituals, embodied experience. Nafziger has an M.Div and an MSW. She loves to incorporate her work experience as a child and adolescent therapist into her faith formation work.

Worship leaders increasingly use online resources to inspire their planning and stimulate their imaginations for congregational worship.

In this workshop, we will explore several online resource site and get a sneak preview of Together in Worship, a new online resource focused on the worship needs of Anabaptist and Mennonite congregations. This website intends to continue the energy and creativity generated by the publication of Voices Together by providing continually growing collection of spoken word, music, visual art, and teaching resources. Congregational testing starts this March with a formal website launch in fall 2020. The Together in Worship website is created in partnership with Mennonite Church Canada’s and Canadian Mennonite University's Common Word Bookstore and Resource Centre, and Mennonite Church Canada.

Sarah Johnson is the coordinator of the Together in Worship Project. Johnson is also the worship resource editor for Voices Together and a PhD candidate in Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. She will join the workshop from Toronto through Zoom. Rebecca Slough, is Emeritus Associate Professor of Worship and the Arts at AMBS and was the Managing Editor of Hymnal: A Worship Book. Slough also serves as a worship resource consultant for Voices Together and a member of the Together in Worship planning group.

From texting to tweeting, most of us rely on social media to help us share ideas, learn skills, celebrate milestones and connect with people. Even though social media has opened a whole new world to many people who would otherwise feel isolated, the potential for harm and conflict is always present. This workshop is about everyday practices and strategies that will help you become a peacemaker in our very digital age. What would it look like if you embodied the love of Jesus every time you logged on to your favorite platform?

Osheta Moore blogs at and is the outreach and teaching pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of Shalom Sistas: Living wholeheartedly in a broken-hearted world.

In this interactive workshop, we will explore how Messy Church, an international growing ecumenical movement, provides a vital creative and playful experience that shapes faith for both new and mature followers of Christ. By celebrating the messiness of our lives, Messy Church is both counter-cultural and intentional in using digital culture.

Messy Church is counter to the isolating tendencies of digital culture by bringing all ages together in one space to engage in a biblical story though activities, crafts and games. Inter-generational relationships are formed when we gather around activity tables at the beginning of Messy Church and join together at the dinner table at the conclusion of Messy Church. Messy Church also intentionally utilizes digital culture to create a welcoming third space for families of all ages, sizes and shapes to connect with one another. Through digital connections, Messy Church communities share a diversity of challenging and joy-filled faith stories, pray for one another, share in Christian forming rituals and form small group digital communities.

Rev. Roberta Jantzi Egli is the Executive Director of Messy Church USA. Messy Church USA is an affiliated partner with the international Messy Church movement, based in Oxfordshire, UK. Roberta received her M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California and is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. 

God really rocked people’s lives in stories like Jacob and the dream rock, Joshua and the crossing over stones and more. And then there was that guy Peter, who, despite his idiosyncrasies, actually rocked God’s world!

Discover five stories of how God rocks for learners of all ages in this online curriculum from Springs Forth! Faith Formation, Inc

What did Rebekah think when she was supposed to water all those thirsty camels? And how did she make her Big Decision? How did she feel about leaving home with a stranger?  And what does a camel really sound like?

Come discover clues and explore new online curriculum for all ages, created by Springs Forth! Faith Formation, Inc

Shaping faith from our smartphones? We have an app for that - it's an Anabaptist prayer app! "Take Our Moments and Our Days" is available, free, from your favorite app store. (Why not download it right now?) Come to this interactive Anabaptist prayer app workshop and discover how this app is shaping Anabaptist prayer practices in personal devotions, leadership groups, house church worship and as a missional discipleship tool.

In this workshop, we'll explore together how we experience using digital prayer tools to foster faith in an Anabaptist perspective. Since how we pray shapes what we will believe, how might a digital prayer tool shape individuals and groups seeking Christian faith in the Anabaptist tradition? How might this digital tool ignite a missional, Anabaptist movement in the 21st Century? Join the conversation!

Karla Minter is a church relations representative for Mennonite Mission Network where she resources and engages leaders and congregations to connect with the vision of Mennonite Mission Network. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation from AMBS in 2012.

In the fall semester of 2017, fifteen AMBS students participated in the Christian Ritual Course. Nine students met in a room on the AMBS campus (the Roomers) and six students joined their colleagues through a video conference platform (the Zoomers). Each class session included a traditional or a new ritual. Zoomers participated fully in all of the rituals and each led two rituals that they prepared.

In this workshop, four of the students—two joining the workshop through Zoom and two on campus—and the course professor will talk about their experiences in the course and will lead the workshop participants in the ritual of communion. Following the ritual we will discuss our observations, surprises, concerns, questions, and ideas for creating experiences of real presence and meaningful action with family, friends, and church members at a great distance from each other. (Workshop limited to 12 participants)

The following people participated in the 2017 course and have since had experiences with worship planning and/or leading using distance interactive participation: Rebecca Slough, Christian Ritual course professor (Elkhart, Indiana); Michelle Curtis, AMBS MDiv alumna (Elkhart, Indiana); Melissa Atchison, current third year MDiv Connect student (Manhattan, Kansas); Deb Coates, current second year MDiv Connect student (Portland, Oregon); and Joyce Peachey Lind, current second year MDiv Connect student (Harrisonburg, Virginia).

Christians through the ages have found it crucial to establish a rule of life in order to live the uncomplicated but difficult life of "being Christian." A rule of life is a structure of patterned habits, practices, and dispositions that supports spiritual growth and maturity. In this workshop, we will pay particular attention to the role digital media should play in supporting a rule of life for 21st century Christians, with a particular emphasis on what children and youth need for healthy development both as people and as Christians-in-the-making.

Rachel Miller Jacobs is the Associate Professor of Congregational Formation at AMBS and teaches in the areas of of human development and Christian formation as well as family spirituality. She is a parent of 3 adult sons and she has been a pastor and a spiritual director. Both in her personal and professional lives, rules of life are kind of her jam.