2017 Conference Workshops

Apologetics—The New Bad Word and Why We Need it (2:50 only)  by Laurie Stewart  Many Christians don’t know what apologetics is or they have a bad impression of it. The word apologetics either scares them or offends them. It’s high time to help Christians understand what it is and why we need it, no matter what they want to call it.  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [“apologia”] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Learn the questions every Christian parent needs to learn how to answer. Get better equipped to raise Christian kids in a secular world!

Biblical Peacemaking – the Gospel in Action (9:45 only)  by Laurie Stewart (attorney, mediator, event speaker.) Conflict is everywhere!  In our families, churches, workplaces, and communities. Unresolved personal and professional conflict can devastate relationships, businesses, churches, finances, our witness, and our walk with God. People generally respond to conflict in one of three ways: fight, fight or follow [Jesus]. How do you respond to conflict? Learn to see conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, serve others and grow more like Christ. Many Christians and their churches lack the commitment and ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered and biblically faithful manner. The Ministry of Reconciliation, the Gospel in action, uses practical biblical guidance for conflict resolution that goes beyond resolving conflicts to true, life-changing reconciliation with family, co-workers, fellow believers, and even with those who might view you as “the enemy.”

Diagnosing Doubt: How to stop wasting time answering the wrong questions by Hillary Morgan Ferrer, founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. Doubt can be a master of disguise. Sometimes, what we think is the problem, isn’t actually the problem. Doubt does not necessarily mean your faith is weak. Even John the Baptist starting having doubts when his life took an unexpected turn! It’s time to stop beating ourselves up for doubt, and start diagnosing where the doubt is coming from. Whether you struggle with doubt, or have a friend who is, come discover the 4 main areas where doubt gains a foothold. Learn to recognize the symptoms of each, and develop strategies to identify and address the actual problem, no matter how it presents itself.

Evidence For Design in Nature by Charley Snodgrass (Rockwell Collins engineer, science enthusiast, 30-year youth group volunteer at New Covenant.)  Charles Darwin said “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”  Using critical thinking skills, we will have a fascinating time learning about particular animals, organs and biological wonders God designed that could not possibly have been formed by Darwinism’s “slight modifications” no matter how much time is given!   (50 seats)

Faith and Family Under Fire: Why Apologetics is Failing in the 21st  by Tony Horvath (Executive Director, Athanatos Ministries, PhD in Christian Philosophy.)  Drawing upon two decades of experience in Christian apologetics, Anthony Horvath presents a disturbing finding:  The truth of Christianity, even when presented powerfully and persuasively, will usually not be apparent to people who were deeply wounded growing up in broken, unhealthy homes.  The influence of the father in spiritual affairs, in particular, is decisive.  If he is godly the children likely will be.  If he is not, his children will not.  And if he’s not even present?  Even worse.  As we witness the continued breakdown of the ‘traditional family,’ Christians can expect increasing hostility to Christianity.  At present, about 25% of American adults are ‘religiously unaffiliated.’  This number will go up, with implications everywhere.  The most robust defense of the faith we can make is the one we make to our own family.

Five Questions Teens Most Often Ask about God by Shawn Barr (Pastor, Noelridge Park Church, youth leader.)  The youth have questions.  A LOT of questions.  Through all of these questions, it seemed as if the youth are asking, “Please show us how the Bible applies to all of our life, because if it doesn’t apply to all of our life, we question whether it applies to any of our life.”  I took this as a personal challenge, and worked to demonstrate how the God of the Bible has an answer to their questions and that this is applicable to our lives.  Over the years, I have seen that some questions are asked more than others.  I will be sharing in the workshop the most commonly asked questions the teens have asked me concerning God and faith.

From Lambs to Lions: Infusing Critical Thinking by Jim Klopfenstein (U of Iowa Ratio Christi Chapter Director, MA – Christian Apologetics -Biola University)  w/Dave Soldner.  Ready for the next step?  Learn how to captivate hearts, ignite passion and birth critical thinking skills.   Using humor and logic, apologist Jim Klopfenstein provides you with trusted advice on getting started.  Jim, Sue and Dave will describe the small group techniques they used to prepare their own children as well as many other young adults for secular college.  You will learn hands on approaches as well as get personal reviews and web links to the best available resources. As a bonus, you will also receive online access to supplemental resources created by Jim. 

God-Esteem vs. Self-Esteem: A Battle of Worldviews by Tony Gael (M.A. Youth and Family Ministries. He has been a youth pastor, children’s ministry leader, an author, and the founder of 1U Ministries. )  We live in a culture that wants to believe that we can have a lasting and healthy identity without Christ. Because of this there is a trap in which we can fall into called the “self”. Self-actualization, self-help, self-love, self-righteousness, self-focus, and self-esteem are all terms that begin with the word “self”. But when Jesus told Christians to “die to self” what did He mean?  In this workshop we will trace the modern history of the self-esteem movement and why God gave us an eternally lasting and healthy identity in His Son and His Son alone.

How We Lost Our Minds, How We Can Recover Them, and Why It Matters by Jamie Schroeder (MA philosophy, PhD in genetics, Parkview Church, Iowa City.)  Christians were once the leaders of thought and culture. We laid the foundations in areas from science and education, to philosophy and the arts. In contrast, our present times has been called the “most secular culture the world has ever seen,” where Christian ideas have little or no impact. How did it get like this and does it even matter? In this workshop, we’ll unravel the reasons for this unsettling historical shift, then present a Christian view of the mind and why understanding it is especially crucial to believers in our own age. We’ll end by giving some practical steps that you can use to further develop thoughtfulness in all areas of life.

In Defense of the Gospels–The Case for Reliability (2:50 only)  by John Stewart (Executive Director of Ratio Christi International, lawyer, speaker, radio personality, Rolling Stones Ministries.)  John Stewart will address the six main questions people raise regarding whether the accounts of Jesus found in the Gospels are true. These questions are: (1) When were the Gospels written, (2) who wrote them, (3) were the writers biased, (4) are there any “lost gospels,” (5) have the Gospels been changed over the years, and (6) do history and archaeology confirm the accounts found in the Gospels? This session will equip attendees to answer these commonly-asked questions so that Christians will be more confident to their own faith and will be able to show skeptics that the evidence supports the Gospel accounts as being true.

Messaging, Worldview, and Visual Media  by Dr. Don Nelson MD, Focus on the Family Physicians Resource Council member. Culture is shaped by the stories it shares and preserves.  Increasingly the stories our culture shares are based on what we watch rather than what we read.  This workshop will look briefly at example messages we as a culture receive from the entertainment media, how we as Christians can address and influence this messaging, and how stories from the media can serve as a starting point for a spiritual discussion.

More Than A Prophet–The Identity of Jesus from the Qur’an, the Bible, and Early Sources (9:45 only) by John Stewart (Executive Director of Ratio Christi International, lawyer, speaker, radio personality, Rolling Stones Ministries.)  Islam teaches that Jesus was not the Son of God, and certainly is not God. Muslims are told that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God. John Stewart will use the Bible, Qur’an and early sources to demonstrate (1) the Bible and Qur’an agree on God’s attributes (unique qualities), (2) the Qur’an says the Gospel was given by God as a guide to humanity, and (3) the Gospels show that Jesus is God. Islam considers Jesus to be a great prophet, but John will show from Muslim and Christian sources that he is more than a prophet–that he is God.  This session will help Christians understand how to demonstrate the deity of Jesus from the Bible and how to help Muslims see the contradictions in Islam’s view of Jesus.

Nothing Else Matters by Brad Singleton (High School Youth Pastor at First Assembly.)   What is the one foundational component of our Christian faith that if proved false makes our entire worldview collapse?  The World’s Strongest Apologist Brad Singleton will answer this question.  Using amazing feats of strength, humor and explosive fireworks (well 2 out 3 at least) Brad will show you biblical, historical, archaeological, and logical evidence for this critical faith component based off of Frank Turek’s book I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.

Removing the Roadblocks that Keep People from Jesus by Matt Slippy (M.A. in Youth & Family Ministry, D.Min. in Pastoral Leadership, Youth Pastor at Calvary Baptist.)  Have you ever wanted to talk with a friend about Jesus but felt frustrated because you did not know what to say?  You wanted to answer their questions, but you were not sure what questions they were asking.  In this workshop, we will highlight three types of Q’s people ask that keep them from Jesus: Spiritual Questions, Intellectual Questions, & Willful Questions.  With each type of question, we will look at how Jesus lovingly engaged each person and how we can help remove the roadblock that is keeping them from trusting Jesus as Savior.

Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids  By Brian Pingel (new lead pastor at Cedar Rapids First Assembly. former professor in the College of Ministry at North Central University. MDiv, Bethel Seminary, doctoral candidate at Evangel University).  The evidence is clear that kids struggle with their faith after they graduate from high school. Recent research has helped us understand that the needs of today’s students’ are different from those even just a few years ago. During this session we will look at the changing needs and the proven strategies that help strengthen a student’s faith as they transition from high school to the next phase in life.

The Love of God is my Reason to Believe. by Joshua Tilley (Senior Pastor, The River Community Church in Iowa City.)  Arguments for God’s Existence from Plato to Cicero.  Cicero, the Roman orator, wrote, “God gives knowledge of himself to all men.” God’s love, God’s existence, and God’s grace are all found in the world around us. Come and learn through the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers how nature itself brought them to understand the existence of God and how these same arguments for God’s existence can help us present Christ to an unbelieving world.

Witnessing as a Lifestyle.  By Grace Mally (Author, Will Our Generation Speak) & family.  This workshop will give motivation and practical skills in how to live a lifestyle that shares Jesus with others!  We’ll look at the importance of witnessing, what keeps us from doing it, and how to creatively initiate spiritual conversations with others!