Speakers and Sessions

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Reggie Smith

Rev. Dr. Reginald (Reggie) Smith serves as the Director of Race Relations and Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, advising churches and organizations on cross-cultural and urban ministry.

Growing up on the west side of Chicago, Smith was encouraged by his pastor to attend Calvin Theological Seminary. In 1994, he moved to southwest Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he led Roosevelt Park Community CRC for 20 years. During his time there, he worked to transform the church from mostly Dutch-American into a multi-cultural community church that served the transitioning neighborhood.

Rev. Smith has taught urban ministry and urban development courses at Calvin Theological Seminary, Western Theological Seminary, and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He holds an M. Div. from Calvin and a D. Min from Western. He and his wife Sharon have three daughters.

Keynote Morning Session:

Lessons of Joys and Pains in a Multi-Cultural Neighborhood
B.J. Haan Auditorium

Keynote Afternoon Session:

Encouragement for the Journey: Stories of Hope
B.J. Haan Auditorium

New! Room numbers have been added below and can also be found in the conference booklet you'll receive when you arrive on Saturday, February 3 along with a map to these classrooms and buildings.
SB = Science and Technology Center
MB = Music Building


10 a.m. (SB 2732) FOSTER PARENTING: BROKEN AND BEAUTIFUL. Dr. Erin Olson: There is a significant need for loving and qualified Christian foster parents to provide families for the thousands of kids in foster care every year. Christians can be challenged to consider whether they are called to serve as foster parents and how they can support those who are.

11 a.m. (SB 2732) CHILD ABUSE IN THE CHURCH. Tara Boer: Our churches should be safe havens and sanctuaries where children and youth can be strengthened and affirmed in Jesus Christ. Does your church assume sexual abuse "will never happen here?" Participants will receive sample forms, policies, and informational documents to support the implementation or development of safe sanctuary policies in their home churches.

1 p.m. (SB 2732) BOUNDARIES OF PARENTHOOD: SAYING "YES" AND "NO" IN LOVE. Dr. Mark Christians: Being a parent is a truly complex task given to us by God. As parents, we want what is best for our children: happiness, fulfillment, acknowledgment, self-worth, security, accomplishments, and more. But do we too often say "yes" to create short-term happiness? In frequently saying "yes" to their immediate desires, we are setting an example of poor boundaries.


10 a.m. (B.J. Haan Auditorium) LEADING WORSHIP WITH THE ORGAN. MaryLou Wielenga: This practical workshop for the church organist will include recommendations of organ music, including current and new collections. It will also provide guidelines for choosing organ registrations and adapting them for your church organ, with examples from the Repertoire list of music. Please bring along the stop list of your church organ if you have specific questions.

11 a.m. (MB 29) FROM HYMNAL TO CHORD CHARTS. Rebekah Dekkenga: This session will cover the challenges of switching from playing classical piano (using sheet music or hymnals) to playing from chord charts. We will cover the basics of reading chord charts and the music theory involved, playing along with a team (guitar, drums, etc.), and the improvisation required for playing from chords.

1 p.m. (SB2726) WORSHIP PLANNERS PANEL. This panel will discuss the challenges of planning worship services that utilize volunteers for audiences with a variety of worship preferences. Panelists include experienced worship planners from a variety of backgrounds. Be prepared to learn and share your own experiences.


10 a.m. (SB 1604) ENGAGING YOUTH IN WORSHIP. Syd Hielema, Jill Friend: Christian worship is an intergenerational activity, and Reformed covenantal theology provides a sturdy foundation and tools for creatively engaging children and youth. This workshop will celebrate that foundation, exploring dozens of different tools which can be adapted and developed in your own congregation.

11 a.m. (SB 1604) MINISTERING TO "DIGITAL NATIVES". Dave Mulder: The metaphor of young people as "digital natives" and older people as "digital immigrants" is compelling. But what if all of us are really craving the same thing: connectedness? In this session, we'll examine recent research on how young people use digital technologies, and we'll explore ideas for integrating youth into the life of the church.

1 p.m. (SB 1604) DISCIPLESHIP: GOD'S PLAN FOR THE NATIONS. Alex Geleynse: Making disciples has always been a high priority for the church. But it is challenging and time-consuming venture, especially in an age when many other distractions and responsibilities demand our time and energy. In this session, we will explore ways to prioritize and recover the lost art of discipleship.

Tech Media

10 a.m. (SB 1603) TECH TOOLS FOR CHURCH ADMINISTRATION. Dylan Vander Berg, Amy Vander Berg, Glenda Kraayenbrink: This panel will demonstrate tools that assist anyone involved with social, data-related, or financial duties at your church. Topics will include online giving, maintaining a church website, and membership record-keeping.

11 a.m.  (SB 1603) THE MODERN CHURCH WEBSITE: TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS TO ELEVATE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE. Brady Fopma and Sarah Werner: This session will cover current web technologies and content strategies to take your church website from good to great. Learn why every website needs an SSL certificate, how the mobile web is becoming the only web, and why content is still king.

1 p.m. (SB 1603) NAVIGATING A PIXELATED WORLD: BRINGING CONTEXT TO A MEDIA-SATURATED CULTURE. Mark Volkers: It took 400 years for Gutenberg's press to move Western Europe from an oral culture to a literate culture. It took 40 years to morph into the visual literacy that now dominates our culture. It's a transition many in the church are slow to recognize.


10 a.m. (SB 1641) "YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID": UNDERSTANDING MATTHEW'S GOSPEL. Scott Hoezee: Matthew's Gospel is a gem of significant literary quality in the New Testament. But it is steeped in Old Testament tradition, necessitating background knowledge to fully understand the teachings about Jesus as Messiah. This workshop will examine key features and themes of Matthew, while helping readers to truly absorb the richness of this Gospel.

11 a.m. (SB 1641) RESTORING THE PASTOR'S/LEADER'S SOUL. Syd Hielema: All ministry - whether fulltime, part-time or volunteer - is incredibly rewarding and deeply demanding, and inevitably requires ways to restore one's soul. This session covers practical suggestions to restore the soul, whether for pastors or those who serve in other leadership capacities within the church.

1 p.m. (SB 1641) THE TECHNICOLOR JESUS: SAVORING THE DRAMA OF MARK'S GOSPEL. Scott Hoezee: Mark is the shortest (and probably the oldest) of the four Gospels. It is also the most fast-paced and loaded with drama. In this workshop we will explore the particularly striking features of this Gospel, as well as how to fully appreciate Mark's vivid presentation of the story of Christ.


10 a.m. (SB 1606) EQUIPPING AND TRAINING ELDERS AND DEACONS. Rick Droog: Elders and deacons shape the culture, direct the mission, establish the vision, and model the values of a church. In this session, we will discuss the qualifications and duties of these office-bearers. We will also discuss ways to help our elders and deacons grown in their leadership capacity.

11 a.m. (SB 1606) MINISTRY IN GRITTY SITUATIONS. Laurel Buwalda: This session will seek to equip ministers and lay ministers to offer pastoral care to people who are grieving, experiencing trauma or serious illness, or dying. We'll identify who we are and who we serve as an effective means of offering comfort and hope. This session will address the idea of ministry as improvisation, how to avoid traps that lead to ineffectiveness, and other practical tools.

1 p.m. (SB 1606) THE RADICAL WORK OF ORDINARY NEIGHBORING. Kendra Broekhuis: Since she was a teenager, Kendra wanted to live out her faith in radical ways. But after she went from being a teacher overseas to a stay-at-home mom, she struggled to understand how radical faith could be demonstrated in what felt like a very ordinary life. Through years of intentional neighborly living, God reminded her that his deep love can be both recognized and shared in our everyday lives. Join Kendra as she shares her story, as well as encouragement and practical advice for those seeking to live out radical faith in their ordinary lives.

Lunch and Learn

12 p.m. (Campus Center Board Room) CRC GOVERNANCE CHANGES. Mark Volkers and Loren Veldhuizen: Over the last few years, the Christian Reformed denomination has been restructuring its governance style and policies to reflect a changing world and changing ministry. World Missions and Home Missions are now known as Resonate Global Mission. Individual boards are no more, replaced by one governance body known as the Council of Delegates (COD). What's going on and why? Join Loren Veldhuizen, a former member of the board of trustees, and Mark Volkers, a current member of the COD, as they give some background on these developments. Please register for this lunch and learn. You may go through the lunch buffet line and proceed to the President's Board Room, on the third floor of the Campus Center. 

12 p.m. (Terrace Room) FAITH FORMATIONS. Syd Hielema and Jill Friend: Pretty well everything we do in our congregational ministries involves faith formation, which Paul describes as "Christ being formed in us" (Gal. 4:19). Faith Formation Ministries (FFM) is a new denominational ministry mandated to be a servant to congregational leaders as they carry out their callings. Come and learn how FFM can bless your ministry. Free resources will be distributed. You may go through the lunch buffet line and proceed to the Terrace Room, on the far side of the dining area. 

2017 Day of Encouragement Keynote: Ed Stetzer, PH.D.

Recognized as one of the foremost thinkers in Christianity today, prolific writer and well-known conference presenter, Pastor Ed Stetzer, Ph.D. has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, and trained pastors and church planters on six continents.

He currently serves as the teaching pastor for Christ Fellowship, a multi-cultural megachurch in Miami, Florida, and has been serving as the co-host of the BreakPoint This Week radio program with John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.