2016 National Gathering Keynote: Bob Lupton

Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity, presents the first keynote of the 2016 National Gathering.


Bob Lupton has invested over 40 years of his life in inner-city Atlanta. In response to a call that he first felt while serving in Vietnam, he left a budding business career to work with delinquent urban youth. Bob and his wife Peggy and their two sons sold their suburban home and moved into the inner-city where they have lived and served as neighbors among those in need. Their life’s work has been the rebuilding of urban neighborhoods where families can flourish and children can grow into healthy adults. Through Focused Community Strategies Urban Ministries – a non-profit organization which he founded – he has developed two mixed income subdivisions, organized a multi-racial congregation, started a number of businesses, created housing for hundreds of families and initiated a wide range of human services in his community. Bob’s new book, Charity Detox, draws on his many decades of experience, and outlines how to structure programs that actually improve the quality of the life of the poor and disenfranchised.

2016 National Gathering Theresa Latini

Non-violent communication specialist Theresa Latini delivered three sets of remarks at the 2016 National Gathering. They are posted in order below.

2016 National Gathering Welcome

NEXT Church Strategy Team Co-Chairs Karen Sapio and Shavon Starling-Louis orient us to the 2016 National Gathering

Nones and Dones Book Recommendations

At the 2016 NEXT Church National Gathering, Renee Roederer hosted an optional ministry context conversation on “nones and dones,” people Renee defines as spiritually curious and institutionally suspicious. As part of that discussion, a book list emerged for those looking to learn more:

Church Refugees: Sociologists Reveal Why People are DONE with Church but not Their Faith – Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope

Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope provide a sociological study that explains why the Dones are leaving churches behind. They explore the primary themes for departure in order to listen to the concerns of the Dones and help churches adapt.

The Nones are Alright: A New Generation of Believers, Seekers, and Those in Between – Kaya Oakes

Kaya Oakes provides historical analysis about why people are leaving organized religion and how some are reclaiming it outside of institutional structures.

Grounded: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution – Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass argues that what appears to be a religious decline in the U.S. is actually a new, transformative movement of people experiencing God as intimate and incarnational in the world.

Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory  – Tod Bolsinger

Tod Bolsinger tells the story of the Lewis and Clark exploration as they had to dramatically adapt once they reached the Rocky Mountains. In the same way, church leaders recognize that dramatic adaptation is needed as culture is changing.

The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why – Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle argues that the Christian Church experiences a major reformation approximately every 500 years,  and that a new, great emergence is currently developing which will invite more into the faith as the institutional church changes.

Adaptive Change for Congregations Caught in the Cultural Tsunami

At the 2016 National Gathering, Jim Kitchens and Susan Rothenburg led a workshop called “The Unglued Church: Adaptive Change for Congregations Caught in the Cultural Tsunami.” Below you will find the description for their workshop and the Slideshare presentation of what they shared.

Is your church “stuck?” A building too big and a membership too small? A nagging feeling that your church must somehow “change” but uncertain about God’s will for that change? Unfortunately, “being church” today looks different from the past. Many churches feel “stuck” but do not know how to change in faithful ways. Learn what Pittsburgh Presbytery discerned by developing practices to become unglued in ways that bring about deep and sustainable change in our communities.

Good Design for the Church

At the 2016 National Gathering, Jess Fisher led a workshop called “The Medium Is the Message: Good Design for the Church.” Below, you will find the description of her workshop and a PDF of the presentation she used.

Do your ministry’s communication materials match your message? As one theorist said, “the medium is the message.” This is no less true for the church: from the incarnation to the weekly bulletin. We work to bring a clear and accessible message of good news, however, the visual design of our bulletins, screens, and web sites often aren’t effective or even legible. Come explore design theory and get tips and tricks to implement in your setting.

Holy Ground: Thinking About the Spaces We Worship In

At the 2016 National Gathering, Jess Fisher led a workshop called “Holy Ground: Thinking About the Spaces We Worship In.” Below you will find the description of her workshop and a PDF of the slides she used.

The places where we worship affect our bodies, minds, and hearts, yet we often neglect to think through the space’s impact on us and miss looking for new ways to engage it. Come hear about how two churches engaged their sanctuary space during lent, incorporating the visual arts and movement into their worship. Then, create a map of your worship space to start thinking about how you can engage it to deepen worship.

Re-Imagining Short Term Mission

At the 2016 National Gathering, Ellen Sherby led a workshop called “Helping or Hurting? Re-Imagining Short Term Mission.” Here you’ll find the description of her workshop and an associated resource on planning short-term mission projects.

Short-term mission trips are a mainstay for congregational mission, but often seem like “voluntourism” or a “mission-cation.” How can we, as mission leaders and church staff, shape our congregation’s understanding of mission trips, breaking from old models to embrace news ways of being in service together with others? Explore ways to engage in short-term mission with long-term vision and context-appropriate, mutual service. Learn about helpful trip-leader tools and resources.

Reaching Them All – Different Learning Styles

At the 2016 National Gathering, Sarah Butler presented a workshop called “Reaching them ALL.” Below you will find the description of her workshop as well as a PDF of her Powerpoint presentation.

Only 30% of the population learns by hearing, yet most sermons and liturgies are geared to reach that minority. This experimental, experiential workshop will explore different learning styles, discuss how to reach the other 70% and help to plan innovative, creative worship experiences. Attendees will take a learning style assessment prior to the workshop.

HIV and Gospel Justice

At the 2016 National Gathering, Bertram Johnson and George Kerr led a workshop entitled “HIV and Gospel Justice.” Below you will find the description of their workshop and a PDF of their Powerpoint presentation.

The HIV pandemic has been the most devastating health and social justice crisis of the last three decades. HIV is severely compounded by stigma, poverty, discrimination, restricted access to care, and criminalization. For too long many in the Church have remained silent and not responded to people living with HIV with Jesus’ love or justice. This interactive workshop offers theological reflection, biblical, and practical tools to address HIV in your community through compassionate preaching, teaching, and service.