Speakers and Sessions

Chuck De Groat

De Groat (Dordt College, ’92) has enjoyed a fluid combination of pastoral work, clinical counseling, and teaching over the past 16 years. He founded City Church Counseling Center (San Francisco) and co-founded Newbigin House of Studies, a seminary and church planter training center. He is an associate professor at Western Theological Seminary, Michigan, and has authored two books: Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places and Toughest People to Love.

Pulled in a Hundred Different Directions: Diagnosing our Weary Souls
Many of us respond to a friend’s “How are you?” with a single word: BUSY. Weary and worn, most of us feel pulled in a hundred different directions. Running on fumes, we live reactively, putting out fires while unaware of the damage inflicted to our own souls. In this session, we’ll explore the dilemma so many of us face, seeing how it robs us of wholeness.

The Antidote to Exhaustion: Discovering Wholeness and Holiness
While we long for rest, we often sabotage it. Our vacations and holidays, in fact, can become more wearisome than our work. In this session, we’ll explore the antidote to exhaustion: wholeheartedness, a life of flourishing found in union with God. We’ll see how this can lead to a kind of holiness and faithfulness which is not exhausting but life-giving to us and to others.

Aaron Baart

Baart is currently serving in his fifth year as dean of chapel at Dordt College. Before that, he served Christian Reformed church plants in both Canada and the United States. Baart and his wife, Nicole, are passionate about global missions efforts and after a meandering path as an adoptive family, in 2007 co-founded a non-profit working in holistic community redevelopment and church planting in Liberia called, One Body One Hope ( Recently, he co-authored Vivid: Deepening Your Colors with Syd Hielema. Baart speaks regularly at churches, conferences, schools, retreats, and camps.”

Prophecy and the Reformed Community: Why a Prophetic Imagination is Needed Now More than Ever
This breakout will explore the biblical notion of prophecy, what it really is, and why our churches today simply can’t live without a robust prophetic imagination and voice.

The Missional Church
This breakout session will explore practical questions surrounding why and how our congregations can and should be more missional.

Tim Breen

Breen is the lead pastor at First Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. A graduate of Northwestern College, where he studied religion, history, and philosophy, Breen worked as director of youth and family ministries at First Reformed Church in Sibley, Iowa. He received his masters of divinity from Western Theological Seminary while serving as a pastoral intern at Rockford Reformed Church. Breen's first full-time, ordained call came in January 2006 from Sunrise Ministries of Hudsonville, Michigan. In August 2010, he accepted a call to become the lead pastor at First Reformed. Breen married Sioux Center sweetheart Tamara Wynia, and they live in Orange City, Iowa, with their three children Jericho (5), Selah (3), and Alexandria (newborn).

Scripture and Strategic Visioning
Every good organization wants to get better. Schools, churches, businesses, and nonprofits all have dreams for deeper and wider impact. The sticking point, of course, is the process. How can teams and boards discover this future, and does having a Christ-centered worldview make a difference in the way it happens? Breen will explore several key biblical elements necessary to a God-driven visioning process, placing an emphasis on the practices that can get your organization started.

Jon De Groot

Jon served as worship pastor for nine years at The Crossing (an RCA church plant) in Sioux Falls. He helped build a culture of worship by training worship leaders and teams. Now campus ministries coordinator at Dordt College, De Groot trains worship leaders through the worship arts program, oversees worship events on campus, and leads worship in weekly chapel.

So What You’re Really Saying…The Hidden Messages We Send in Worship (Upward, Inward, and Outward)
How should we dress on Sunday? Should the worship team play in the back or the front of the sanctuary? This session will consider some of the cultural assumptions we carry with us into worship. We will take a brief look at the philosophy of “the media as the message” and how well our stated values line up with our actual practices. With an upward, inward, and outward outline, we will walk through these practices and peel away some of the layers for a deeper look into the exercise of corporate worship.

Rick Droog

Droog is the executive director for the Siouxland Diaconal Conference in Orange City, Iowa. He has worked with several churches throughout the Midwest and he is currently on the leadership team of a missional-focused Christian Reformed Church in Orange City called Living Water Community Church. Living Water started a second campus in a neighboring town in 2014. Droog also serves as a stewardship consultant for a number of churches on behalf of The Barnabas Foundation.

The Healthy Church Discernment Process
What if you could get a clear look at what is really happening in your church? And what if you could use that information to develop a plan for the future—a plan that would give every member of your congregation a sense of ownership? This session will provide information about the Healthy Church Program, a process that can energize your congregation by involving them in a dynamic conversation about the future of your church and how you can get there together.

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Dukes Lee is a storyteller and a grace dweller, blogging about faith at  She is a writer for Dayspring’s Dukes Lee is author of Love Idol: Letting Go of your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Love Idol is for anyone who needs to know that she has nothing to prove, that she is “preapproved” in Christ.

Living Preapproved
Are you tired of the rat race? Are you bogged down by all the “not enough” in your life? In our workplaces, homes—and even in our churches—we’re feeling the pressure of performance-based living and proving our worth. We're afraid that we’re not measuring up to any of the expectations placed on us in our daily lives. And we're bone-tired of the try-hard approach at living. Through stories and Scripture, Dukes Lee gently invites you to make peace with yourself and to live for the approval of One. You will come to know, soul-deep, that you are truly preapproved through Christ.

John Lee

Lee grew up in a dairy farm in northern Michigan before attending Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. He has served with World Renew and Christian Reformed World Missions in Nicaragua and is currently senior pastor at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Go Tell it on the Mountain…and on the Plain: A Reformed look at Evangelism
For most Reformed churches and many Reformed individuals, sharing the Gospel is one of our highest callings and yet greatest struggles. We will explore some of our obstacles to effective evangelism as well as some practical tools for sharing the hope within us.

Shari Kastein and Jason Lief

Kastein dedicated her life to serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Nearly 30 years ago, Kastein’s 15-month-old daughter was abducted, brutally beaten, and left to die. Kastein, a homeless mother, fought her way through pain and poverty to become a world humanitarian. Over the course of her years working in this field, she has changed nearly 10,000 lives. Kastein holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota and an M.B.A. from the University of Sioux Falls. She serves on several local, state, and national committees. Kastein has been the executive director of the Family Crisis Centers for the last 18 years. The Family Crisis Centers serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, homicide, and human trafficking.

Lief teaches theology and youth ministry at Dordt College. He recently completed a Ph.D. in pastoral care and practical theology from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The Church and Domestic Violence: A Theological Approach
This session will explore how the Christian community can begin to address the issue of domestic violence from a biblical and theological perspective. Our time together will include personal stories as well as practical steps churches can take to minister to victims of abuse.

Ryan Link

Link is the director of youth ministry at First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He earned a degree in youth ministry from Dordt College and has spent the past 14 years serving in two churches learning what it means to be an impactful voice in the lives of parents and teens. He is passionate about helping to network and equip youth leaders to engage the lives and hearts of students. Ryan and his wife, Sheri, have three children.

Connecting the Disconnected
Teenagers today are considered to be the most connected people of all time. If this is true, why do we feel like our teenagers are so disconnected from the life of our churches? During this session we will explore what it looks like to embrace teens into the lives of our churches.

Kurt Rietema

Rietema and his wife, Emily, and their sons, Luke, Perkins, and Leo, live in a diverse, under-resourced neighborhood of Kansas City called Argentine where he leads Christian community development efforts for Youthfront and the CRC. His work includes youth development, racial reconciliation, immigration advocacy, housing and lending partnerships for immigrants, as well as restoring an abandoned school building. Kurt is also an adjunct in Social Justice at MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Undocumented Immigrants, Undecided Church
How can we uphold the rule of law and at the same time uphold the demands of Christian hospitality to immigrants within our communities and congregations who have crossed our borders illegally? This workshop will explore how the church can use its unique voice to think theologically about the sensitive issue of immigration that can transcend the divisive and polarizing discourses of politics and economics. Pastors and lay leaders are invited to bring their own doubts, questions, and challenges that confront their church and community in regards to talking about and loving the stranger among them.

Jen Sandbulte

Sandbulte’s approach reflects snippets of a working mama sharing Jesus in the real world. She’s genuine and passionate about teaching Jesus lovers how to be real at work, at home, and at church, infusing real prayer techniques for our everyday life.

Left Behind—In a GOOD Way!—Jesus Teaches Us to Pray
So often we hear people saying they want to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord, and yet we struggle with basic prayer times. Jesus taught us to pray, and he left behind his promised Holy Spirit. Pause in this session to reflect on what role the Holy Spirit plays in your life, and how listening to the one who was left behind for us will deepen our prayer life as we truly connect with the triune God.

Justin and Angela Schuiteman

The Schuitemans are graduates of Northwestern College and reside in Orange City. Justin is a partner at Ground Effects and has a passion for discipleship. Angela taught for six years and now stays at home while volunteering for Safe Families, a national movement of families giving hope to children and parents in crisis. They have four children: Daunte (13), Donavan (12), Bailey (5), and Mataya (3). Their two oldest children came to live with them through foster care. Almost four years ago God grew their family from one to five kids within a six month period. Around seven years ago they started asking "Why are we not hearing God's voice?" They decided they needed to make some changes in their life to make more room for God to speak by getting rid of TV, being in the Word, and praying. Through trying to listen to God they have seen God work in so many ways, especially as they opened up their home to others.

Home: Reexamining Biblical Hospitality
When you invite people into your home, you dream of the impact it will have on their lives, but once they arrive, you might realize they are the ones impacting your own heart and life. The Schuitemans will share what God has taught them through their experiences of opening up their home to foster children, addicts, hurting people, and many others.

Student-led forum: Facilitators Kandace Brands and Lee De Groot

Engaging the Youth of our Church
Join area students in a discussion regarding their involvement in the church. You will be encouraged to ask personal questions and students will be encouraged to offer honest answers to one of today’s most important issues in the church: What can we do as church leaders to engage students in our church? Why are the youth leaving the church? What can we do to prevent this epidemic? What better place to find answers to our questions than to ask students themselves? The students we have chosen offer great insight into this very important topic. Please consider joining us for this great breakout session!