Inspire 2017 Updates: Your Feedback Needed

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As you may be hearing, members of the Christian Reformed Churches from Canada and the US will be gathering this summer to be inspired, renewed, and equipped for local church ministry. Details for Inspire 2017 on August 3-5 in Detroit, Michigan are unfolding nicely!

Perhaps you’ve seen the announcements about our four keynote speakers: Ann Voskamp, Richard Mouw, Harvey Carrey, and Ruth Padilla-Deborst. We’ve also got a number of breakout sessions and workshop topics ready. We’ve planned some special times as well to stimulate meaningful conversation around great food mixed with some fun.

This event is being designed for ministry leaders in local churches, so we thought it was time to ask you what you would like to see there. Are there topics that you want to discuss? Are there tools you want to explore? Are there stories you want to hear? Are there people you want to hear from? While we’re at it, are there stories, tools, or topics that you want to share that you think others could benefit from?

Attached is a list of a few topics we already have in mind. The titles might not tell you everything, but the content is exciting. 

Let us know if you have topics, ideas, or material YOU would like to see at Inspire by leaving a comment below. Together we will build this event to be meaningful for all who come. We look to you for input!

Don't have an idea to add right now? Then please pray. Pray that God will fill this event with the power of His Spirit so everyone that comes will be filled as well.

~Paula

Inspire 2017 Planning Team Partner

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Let's Discuss…

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Community Builder

I looked through your list of topics and almost all of them are about DOING something in the kingdom of God. Not necessarily wrong but what about learning to listen with discernment to what God is doing in the church and following what he is up to. We are using the book "Pursuing God's Will" by Ruth Haley Barton as the basis for spiritual practices that build up leadership discernment. More information about personal spiritual practices are found in Soul Leadership and Sacred Rythms. I believe learning to be in God's presence and being transformed into the image of Christ for the sake of others is crucial for healthy leadership that discerns where God is at work and follows Him there. What about some workshops on spiritual practices like silence and solitude, scripture reading for transformation not information, retreats, fasting, prayer, listening to consolation and desolation to name a few.

Angela -- Love... that you are looking for this!  We too, have thought this to be a vital part of Inspire 2017!  Although we are not using a specific book to drive the sessions, we have a number of sessions planned for reminding us of our connection with God!  We have a session on discernment of the Holy Spirit's call, one on healthy habits of connecting with God, and another planned to help folks find renewal with God when you are tired and worn.  In addition, we will have a prayer room, a specific prayer walk, and lots of sticky spaces to have partners in ministry pour into each other WITH God!

Thanks for your interest in conversations at Inspire 2017!  Please continue to pray -- for the planning, for the presenters/facilitators, and for the attendees as they prepare to come!  ~Paula

Community Builder

How about having a session where everyone gathers in small groups of churches (a half-dozen or so) to tell stories, share ministry ideas, and pray for one another?

Terry -- Thanks for your thoughts!  YES!  We are hoping for lots of gathering for churches/leaders/volunteers to share stories.  We have a few breakout sessions designed to ignite those conversations.  However, we are hoping that ALL the sessions (no matter what the topic) ignite conversations with the attendees.  We are praying for new relationships to be birthed, new partnerships to form, new ideas to bubble up, and LOTS of mutual support for ministries happening in very different areas.  I hope you'll come and help spark those conversations.  With 2000 attendees planned, we are not going to be able to BUILD those small groups, but we are creating time and space for them to pop up!

Conversation, energy, and the Spirit of God will be driving this event!  We're anxious to see God at work!  I hope you are planning to come and join in!  In the meantime, please continue to pray -- for the attendees, the presenters/facilitators, and the continued planning.  We all want to honor GOD at this event!  ~Paula

I do not see anything in the plans that highlights the inclusion and belonging of people with disabilities. With 1 in 5 households including someone who lives with a disabling condition, and with the CRc having historically led the way in prioritizing persons with disabilities, this is suprising. I would recommend the following:

- Joint presentations by Mark Stephenson and Terry DeYoung what their office does for CRC churches

- Presentation on the importance of including people with disabilities

- Discussion/panel/presentation on starting a disability team in your church

Dan -- Thanks for your heart and passion for those that might have areas of accessibility issues.  We have been working closely with Mark Stephenson and his team!  Our goal is that this event will be barrier free and that we can encourage the churches to have the same goal.  We will have specific breakout sessions on ideas/perspectives/reasons for creating environments for ALL of God's people.  We will also have sessions on inclusive behaviors and messaging that would invite and embrace those that are different than us as well... not just physical, emotional, and accessibility conditions.  We are hoping to change the lens by which we see things from how can we help them to possibly how can they help us... be better!  Thanks for the reminder, the passion, and the heart!  God is certainly smiling!

And... I will take a look at the language of our breakout sessions to make sure we are communicating clearly what each session will cover!  Perhaps when the website goes live, the "summary" of each session will give a better idea of the content you'll find in the session.

Thanks again Dan!  Look forward to seeing you at Inspire 2017!  ~Paula

I'm sure that this will be included somewhere in this mix but it needs to be talked about specifically, that It's All About Relationships!  We are so good at developing programs, ministries, and even strategies but it all comes down to relationships.  What should be a natural and expected aspect of life has been thrown by the wayside.  The older generation no longer knows the children and vice-versa.  We skitter around from one practice, one meeting, one game, etc.  We send out emails, texts, Facebook messages and consider that our social interaction.  Meanwhile I hear complaints about how church used to be our family and how we used to invite people over but not any more.  I don't care what you are talking about (evangelism, worship, Bible studies, outreach, etc.) it is all about developing and growing relationships and we need to stop for a moment and talk about how we can nurture that.  When I look at my life it was relationships that grew my faith the most and when I hear from those who don't attend church anymore the repeated response is that they don't feel connected.  It doesn't have to do with style of worship, lack of ministries, or anything else.  It is simply because we don't take time to build relationships.  Like I said, I expect and hope that this will be included is some of what has been listed but it can't be a little spice that we throw into the mix.  It is the whole recipe.

Craig -- I just LOVE your passion and succinct messaging!  I couldn't agree more!  It's the sharing of our faith, our personal stories, our willingness to be vulnerable, our heart for others, and the connecting we do that turns us into a church!  It's how we reflect Christ!  Those are all the things HE TAUGHT us!  Yes, it is certainly IN the mix, and some of the sessions will focus on this more than others, but I couldn't agree more!  We, as a team, will go back, with your comments in mind, and revisit the sessions to make sure this will be an emphasis!  I hope you will join us and encourage such behavior as well!

God wants nothing more than for us to represent HIM well in His church!  Praying we can do this as we plan, as we execute, and as we prepare to gather together.  Our prayer is that we can all humble ourselves to each other and BE CHRIST to others as well.  Thank you for your heart and message to chew on!  ~Paula 

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