2023 GA Seminars
Learning from the Endurance and Strength of the Reformed Chinese House Churches
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Hannah Nation, Corey Jackson, Ryan Zhang, China Partnership/Center for House Church Theology, Trinity Park Church, New City Presbyterian Church
How does a church under pressure stay renewed in the gospel of grace? For their 70 year history, the house churches in China have grown amidst cultural marginalization, political disenfranchisement, and periods of active persecution. In recent years, a growing movement of reformed, urban house churches (many of which are presbyterian) have begun to articulate an important theology of ‘walking the way of the cross’ which shapes their ecclesiology, evangelism, and discipleship. As our churches in North America navigate the increasing pressures of a polarizing culture, there is much to learn from our brothers in China. This session will not only discuss the growth of the gospel within China, but how local American churches can gain a clearer understanding of Christ’s kingdom and his call to the church by listening to the Chinese house church. By better understanding the church’s perseverance in grace and unity in another context, PCA pastors can gain practical tools for casting a hopeful vision of faithfulness under cultural pressure.
Soul Care For Ministry Leaders
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Scott Armstrong, City Church-Eastside (PCA)
Pastoral burn out post-pandemic has never been higher, and according to surveys, most who start in ministry don’t finish there. Why? It usually isn’t because of the ministry itself. Rather, it is because we lack integration between the rhythms of external ministry and the interior life of the soul. When the church leader is unhealthy, the church suffers as well. In this seminar, we want to watch the way Jesus handles pressure and apply His flourishing rhythm to our lives. In doing so, we can move from merely surviving to thriving.
Above Reproach? Moral Failure and Godly Character in Pastoral Leadership
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Dan Doriani, Covenant Theological Seminary
This seminar asks: “Is moral failure a chronic problem among pastors? If so, why?” We consider four answers to the question: First, there is no problem; inaccurate reporting in the media foster the illusion of chronic moral failure. Second, the church invites moral failure because it attracts flawed men, especially the power-hungry and narcissistic, to the ministry. Third, the church invites moral failure when it gives priority to capacity, skill, or talent, instead of character, as it selects and promotes leaders. Fourth, the church recruits qualified men, but fails to nurture them, and even corrupts them.
Intergenerational Differences in Women’s Ministry
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Lisa Turner, Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, TN
For years after church on Sundays, I went to lunch with my mother, who is in her 80s, and my daughter, who is in her 30s. I could not understand how these two who live in the same zip code, shop at the same grocery, attend the same church & share the same name saw things so differently. One would say, “I just don’t understand why….” or the other would ask, “Why would they do that”?
I finally realized the answer…generations are like cultures—they see things differently. This seminar would take a look at the different generations in a church, what shapes them & the importance of accepting and respecting the other.
Honoring Our Parents When They Decline Cognitively
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Bill Davis, Covenant College/Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
Modern medicine has made it possible to extend our lives longer and longer. Sometimes, the extra years added to our lives include cognitive decline: fading memory, diminished ability to make clear decisions, and even losing the ability to manage the affairs of daily living. When our parents are experiencing these challenges, the joy that should attend honoring them can feel like a burden. We may even be tempted to think of our parents as essentially our children. This seminar will look at what the Bible says about how adult children should honor their parents, both when the parents are still cognitively robust and when their powers of attention, memory, and decision-making wane. No attempt will be made to minimize the grief and difficulty that are often part of honoring our parents in a biblically faithful way. Instead, the focus will be on practical ways that we can honor our parents while being sources of strength and even hope.
Redeeming Vision: Looking at and Learning from Art
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt, Covenant College
The Reformed tradition offers a rich theological argument for why Christians should engage with the arts. What we have largely lacked, however, is a field guide for how we can view art in a generative—not
just critical—fashion. Building on the work of Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and others, this workshop introduces the practice of redeeming vision. Looking that values the incarnation, is oriented in love, and anticipates transformation allows us to learn from, not just about, artworks and grow in our love for God and our neighbor. Join us for this practical introduction to faithful looking.
Building your Church’s Culture of Organizational Health AND Deep Relationships
SEMINAR SPEAKER: John Purcell, Perimeter Church
Your mission is relational, but your barriers are probably organizational AND also more relational than you think. We’ll discuss the problem of mission drift that results from both of these issues and how to become a results AND relationship focused church. And we’ll discuss why this is all even more critical now in the culture around us that God is calling us to engage.
Growing Healthy Churches
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Irwyn Ince and Murray Lee, Mission to North America
Every church begins as a church plant, often with limited resources and people. Yet this small group has a vision to grow into a vibrant church that invests in the discipleship of its members and equips them to love their neighbor well. Cultivating a healthy church does not happen by chance. Healthy churches require disciples who plan, pray, and surround themselves with resources that support the growth and discipleship of every member. Join MNA to discuss what constitutes a vibrant church as we share strategies for sustainable church health.
The Relationally Wise Shepherd
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Ken Sande, Relational Wisdom 360
There is one conflict in the church that is seldom healed: when a pastor gets into serious conflict with
his leadership team, he will almost always lose his pulpit. This is one of the reasons that 4,100 pastors leave ministry prematurely every year in the U.S. This workshop will provide practical teaching and educational tools that a pastor can use to strengthen his own relational and peacemaking skills, as well as those of his elders and the members of his church. In addition to improving a pastor’s chances of enjoying a longer and less stressful tenure, this type of training can strengthen marriages, reduce divorce and enhance a church’s evangelistic witness in its community.
From Generation to Generation: Helping Children Prepare for Eternity
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: TE Stephen Estock, Ms. Katie Flores, PCA Discipleship Ministries (CDM)
Throughout the history of the PCA, a consistent area of congregational growth has sometimes been overlooked. From generation to generation, God faithfully blesses His people with covenant children. In 2021, non-communing members comprised 20% of the PCA. Today’s leaders have a great opportunity to prepare covenant children for an eternity of “glorifying and enjoying God.” In late-2022, CDM conducted research into ways PCA congregations are helping children engage in the life of the church. This seminar considers those results, the challenges they reveal, and the opportunities leaders have to raise up another generation to know and worship the Lord.
How To Train Elders and Deacons
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Jonathan Stoddard, Jordan Valley Church (PCA)
Are your elders eager to share the load of shepherding the flock? Are your deacons proactive in taking things off your plate so you can focus on the ministry of word and prayer? Unfortunately, it’s rare for church officers to feel like partners in ministry. One reason is officer training often neglects to spend adequate time training candidates for their calling. This seminar will give you a training program to help ensure the officers in your church are true partners in ministry. You’ll leave with a training template for your next officer training, one that does a deep dive into the candidate’s character and focuses on training them for ministry.
Cultivating a Culture of Missions in Your Church
PANEL: Rev. Mark Bates, Jerry Gibson, Rev. Greg Hills, Rev. Dale Hollenbeck, Rev. Leonard Liu, Mission to the World
Missions is more than a program of the local church. Christ made the church integral to His mission. This seminar will focus on how churches can move beyond managing a missions program to cultivating a culture of missions that engages and develops the next generation of cross-cultural workers, impacting both the nations and our members with the grand news about the Kingdom of God.
Celibacy, Marriage, or Surrender
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Mark Sanders, Harvest USA
Whenever you are ministering to someone who is struggling with same-sex attraction, the question of the future possibility of marriage will probably come up. Sometimes well-intentioned shepherds and counselors will steer a person either towards celibacy or marriage. The reasons for encouraging one of these two options are crucial. Much of what has been written on this topic, from both extremes, comes from unbiblical or extra-biblical premises. Instead of arriving at a forgone conclusion about God’s will in this area, wisdom, understanding, love, and patience are needed to help each particular individual work through what it means to surrender this future possibility to the providential leading of the Holy Spirit.
GA for Rookies
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Bryan Chapell, PCA Administrative Committee
Come and see what is really going on at General Assembly! You will learn how things work, why we do it the way we do, and other items that will help you make the most of your General Assembly experience.
Gospel-Shaped Planting Pipeline for Church Vitality
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Robert Kim, Chris Vogel, Irwyn Ince, Covenant Theological Seminary/MNA
As we confront the decline and the pressures of
the church in North America, there is an emerging opportunity to reimagine how to bring a renewed vitality to church planting. Creating gospel-shaped pipelines to develop future leaders must begin now. This seminar will address the need for such pipelines and the mechanisms needed to bring new health to church planting and established churches.
Church Employment Law: Hiring, Firing, and Caring for the Vulnerable
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Andy Andrews, Michael Best & Friedrich
This seminar will detail key considerations for churches related to employees, particularly at those moments of onboarding, conflict, and termination. It will discuss topics related to the tension that sometimes exists between a church’s call to protect the vulnerable, the principles of Matthew 18, and various requirements of federal and state employment laws, as well as important considerations for churches as nonprofit religious organizations.
This Missional Moment: 50 Years of Pioneering Black ministries in the PCA
AAMPCA panel discussion with Charles McKnight, Kellie Brown, Alex Shipman, Jenell Chavis, Wy Plummer, Cyril Chavis and Howard Brown
We rejoice in seeing what God has done in the PCA. Considering there were no Black people involved in the beginning of the PCA, it is a miracle that God has brought our denomination along so far in 50 years. While there is much to lament, this time, let’s focus on the pioneering work of Black men and women in the PCA and imagine what God could be planning for the next 50 years. Come to learn about some of the first African American TEs and ministry leaders and some of the current trailblazers in Gospel ministry.
Compassionate Discipleship for Christians Experiencing LGBTQ+ Struggles
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Ellen Mary Dykas, Harvest USA
The politics of sexual and gender identity connected to all things LGBTQ+ will continue to challenge Christians who are committed to a biblical sexual ethic. However, the transformation that we all need at the heart level will never change; nor will the solution: Jesus! This workshop will not give an apologetic for a biblical worldview on sexuality and gender, or suggest how to engage in politics regarding these important issues. It will provide guidance on how to compassionately disciple Christians who struggle with their sexuality or gender, but are also committed to following Jesus Christ.
A People of Memory, A People of Hope: Remembering the Past 50 years of PCA Missions Outreach with Gratitude and Embracing the Future in Hope
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Herbert D. Ward, Jr., Covenant College
Since its inception, the PCA has been committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission. The work of global missions within the PCA has been overseen by the Committee on Mission to the World, and carried out through the efforts of faithful men and women serving the global outreach of the PCA.
In this seminar, we will take time to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness over the past 50 years in prospering the work of Mission to the World. We will also look forward in hope at the opportunities and challenges facing MTW in the years ahead. The fields are, indeed, “white unto harvest”, and God is doing extraordinary things through the outreach of MTW around the world in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, theological education, and mercy ministry.
Raising a Gender-Stable Child
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Dr. Howard Eyrich, Briarwood Presbyterian Church and Birmingham Theological Seminary
This seminar is focused on helping parents develop an atmosphere of trust, open communication, and desire within the child to develop into a man or woman of God amid the competing contemporary voices regarding gender.
Connecting Generations and Closing Generation Gaps in your Church
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Dr. Peter V. Deison, Park Cities Presbyterian, Dallas
This seminar will focus on opening a simple way for the faithfulness of one generation to pass on their strength and wisdom to the next and create a riche, more hopeful community in your church.
A Hopeful Future – What Established Churches Can Learn from Church Plants
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Hunter Brewer & Clint Wilcke, 5 Points Church Planting Podcast & Mid-South PCA Church Planting Network
The future of the church in North America, according to all measurable factors, is a troubled forecast. Despite this, church planters continue to step out in faith to see new churches started that will reach those not in church. In light of this, what can established churches and experienced pastors learn from church planters and new churches? This seminar offers words of hope and practical encouragement for those who may not be called to plant but appreciate the vision and practical mission of planting.
Developing A Gospel Culture Within Your Congregation
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Reverend Scotty Smith & Reverend Ed Norton, McGowan Global Institute
What is culture? What is the culture of your church? As a leader in the organization, what responsibility do I have towards creating a Gospel culture within the organization? How do we create a Gospel culture within our organization that is informed by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ?
This seminar will explore the presuppositions of the Gospel that will fuel and enable a corporate and community culture that is honoring to Jesus. These presuppositions are as follows:
• Gospel doctrine informs Gospel culture
• Gospel culture facilitates our view of our Union with Christ
• Our Union with Christ manifests John 17:23 to the world
Who’s Gonna’ Lead the Youth Group?
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Stephen Estock and Matt Luchenbill, PCA Discipleship Ministries (CDM) and New City PC, Ferndale, MI
Got the feeling student ministry is different than 50 years ago? In what ways have things changed? What should churches look for in leaders to help students live faith-filled lives in today’s culture? Generation gaps seem wider, and communication seems harder. In this seminar, members of the CDM Student Ministry Team will explore where Student Ministry has been in the PCA and where it is going. They will also consider ways elders can encourage and equip staff members and volunteer leaders.
Sabbaticals: Investing in the Health of Ministers and Churches
SEMINAR SPEAKER: Rev. Jon Medlock, Geneva Benefits Group
Pastors are leaving the ministry at an alarming rate. With 70% of PCA pastors lacking access to sabbaticals, the church needs to give focused attention to pastoral wellbeing and sabbatical rest. This seminar will provide an overview of pastoral sabbaticals: 1) why – the reasons sabbaticals are crucial for pastoral health; 2) what – the components of a well-planned sabbatical; 3) how – a practical framework to guide churches and pastors. When pastors have access to seasons of sabbatical rest, they and the churches they serve can have strength for today and bright hope for a healthy lifetime of ministry.
Minority Pastors in Majority Churches: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Abraham Cho, Aaron Chung, Duke Kwon, Jeff Suhr, Moses Park, and Paul Kim, KALI
For several years at General Assembly there have been conversations about how Korean-American TEs have been working in majority culture or multiethnic churches and what those unique challenges and blessings have been. This seminar (hosted by KALI) is for fellow Korean Americans in Korean-majority ministries who have wondered if “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Join us for an honest conversation (moderated by Aaron Chung) with several brothers as they share about their experiences from various ministries across the country.
Turning Crisis into Constructive Change: RAPHA – Community and Curriculum
SEMINAR SPEAKERS: Shad Guinn/Randy Nabors, 1st Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, TN
RAPHA is a deaconal program of 1st Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, that uses the Chalmer’s Center curricula and self-produced material to bring community neighbors seeking help into a weekly fellowship over
a meal, a year’s worth of training in life skills, along with financial support and accountability. God has used this new approach to completely change the welcome for those who struggle into the fellowship of a historic downtown congregation. This is a model worth emulating.