Culture / Formation / Theology / Witness

5 Timely Conversations You Don’t Want to Miss at Awakenings

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We believe that in our cultural moment, we need to come together to have fresh conversations with a diverse array of brothers and sisters.

  • Conversations about the biblical nature of the church
  • Conversations about her witness amid the political and cultural challenges of our day
  • Conversations about the character of those we look to as leaders
  • Conversations about the missionary expressions of the church for the future we are moving toward

And most of all, conversations about how God might be leading us into all this through new forms of togetherness for the sake of the world!

We’ve assembled a gifted and diverse group of voices to lead us in these conversations. Here’s what we’ll be talking about at this year’s Awakenings Gathering.

There’s still time to register to join us in person, but there are also live-streaming options for those who can’t make it.


Conversation 1 – The Nature of the Church

Biblically and theologically, what must be AWAKENED in us about the nature of God’s design for the Church if we are to live faithfully as the people of God in our day for the sake of the world?

Dave Fitch | A Call to a New Imagination for Church: The Church as ‘Demonstration Plot’ for God’s Kingdom

In the last 50 years, the magnitude of cultural change has decimated the place of church in our lives as Christians—and in our culture. In response, churches turned either defensive or accommodative, seeking after relevance. In the aftermath, we fight amongst ourselves, making enemies of the culture. As a result many have lost imagination for what the church is, what the church is called to be, what the church could be in God’s mission amidst the injustices, hopelessness, and antagonisms of our society. We’ve lost imagination for the church. We need an ecclesiology—a new imagination for church—where  church is not a set of programs but a whole way of life, where church is the fullness of His presence in the world amidst its antagonisms, where the church inhabits the world—not out of a posture of power, but as the space of God’s presence working in the world. But this imagination for church cannot come from our own dreams or our own work. It must be the work of the Spirit, a proclamation of the Gospel, a birthing of a new counter-social existence of God’s reign, a demonstration plot of God’s Kingdom. This plenary is about this call for this kind of re-imagination of church.

Lisa Yebuah | We’re More Powerful Than We Recognize

Maybe the most unfortunate reality plaguing the church today is its inability to see itself rightly; we are a means of God’s grace to be at work in this world. And yet, because we often look to the world for our examples of power—which are not compelling at all—our tendency then is to overcorrect, take on a posture of weakness that’s not Christ-soaked, and ultimately downplay our ability to enact change through the life-giving source of the Spirit. But we’re more powerful than we realize! The stories about the Tower of Babel and the day of Pentecost will give us glimpses of the holy mischief the church can get itself into.

Conversation 2 – The Witness of the Church

Amid the great cultural challenges of our day, what must we be AWAKENED in us if we are to manifest a public witness to Jesus and the ways of his kingdom for the sake of the world?

Efrem Smith | The Witness of the Church and the Empowerment of the Marginalized

The incarnation of God in Christ provides a Missional Ecclesiology of Empowerment for the church today. This is especially important as the church rediscovers its mission in an ever-increasing multicultural yet deeply divided and polarizing mission field. God in Christ takes on the form of a Jewish, multiethnic, and marginalized minority. He also lives out a liberating and reconciling mission thru solidarity with the oppressed, marginalized, and poor. This talks explores one miraculous example of this revelation of God.

Bruxy Cavey | Show & Tell: Our Most Compelling Apologetic for the Gospel

There are many helpful approaches to Christian apologetics, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. This session will explore a gospel-based apologetic, examining the basic tenets of the Good News of Jesus and how this message meets our most fundamental human needs in an unprecedented and unparalleled way.

Mia Chang | Don’t Be Alarmed, the Church is Alive!

The Holy Spirit is awakening the Church to rise up and encounter the outpouring of the Spirit’s power. It is only when the Church wholeheartedly surrenders to the Spirit that our witness becomes the sort of prophetic voice to the nations that reflects God’s own heart. With renewed visions and dreams, the Church is empowered to step into God’s mission. The Spirit is calling, rousing the Church from its slumber to a new and glorious day!

Conversation 3 – The Future of the Church

In the unfolding life of the Church, what will it mean and look like for us to be AWAKENED to the “ancient-future,” the “multicultural-future,” and the “missionary-future” that are intrinsic to the church’s identity for the sake of the world?

Todd Hunter | To What Was the Ancient Church Conscious?

The ancient church is often cherry-picked for “new” ways of doing public worship, for a lectionary-based method of reading the Bible, or to make use of the church calendar. But a richer, more full line of inquiry begs our attention: what was the aim of the church in practicing these things? Understanding these aims and practices informs ancient-future ways to faithfully  engage spiritual formation and mission in the midst of cultural challenges.

Jorge Acevedo | Making Church Vile Again

The missionary impulse of the Church pushes her to reinvention and ingenuity around strategy. In this session, we’ll consider the ways the Spirit of God has and continues to launch the local church out into the edge of her missional calling and vocation.

Oneya Okuwobi | What Do We Owe Each Other: Love and Unity in the Church for the Sake of the World

Everywhere we look, we observe deep-seated divisions between people groups. And as we examine the role of the Church in all this, it’s not so much that she is the problem, it’s that she hasn’t been the solution. As a result, the world is missing the example of what self-sacrificial love and unity look like, especially as expressed across differences. In this session, we explore how the Church can regain her role and lead the way into a multicultural future.

Conversation 4 -The Character of the Church

In light of a variety of contemporary scandals that seem to shed light on major gaps when it comes to the cultivation of Christian virtue, what might God be AWAKENING us to with regard to the character formation of our churches and church leaders for the sake of the world?

Rich Villodas | Can you Drink the Cup?: The Way of the Cross as the Foundation of Character Formation

One of the prevailing realities throughout the history of the church is the dissonance between power and character. We see it in the ongoing scandals in the life of the church. For centuries, the measure of power that is held by pastors and leaders has not been proportionate to the character needed to sustain it. But Jesus, from the very beginning of the church, has sought to anchor us in a cruciform life, broken and vulnerable enough to lead in a way consistent with his kingdom. In this session, 5 cruciform questions will be explored for the sake of the future life of the church.

Karen Swallow Prior | Morality is Not Enough: Why the Church Needs Virtue

Morality refers to the difference between right and wrong, while virtue is choosing between competing goods. It is character that helps people to do the right thing in the right way. The emphasis in the church on morality over the last several decades, while necessary, has often come at the expense of virtue. The current moral crises in the church stem, in part from a lack of virtue, and it will require virtue to address these situations and to avoid falling into further error as we do so. The effectiveness of our witness in the world depends not only on the truth of our message, but on the character with which it is delivered and modeled.

Conversation 5 – The Sending of the Church

In being reminded that the Church is a people and a movement rather than an event or a place, what might God AWAKEN in us as we consider the manner and scope of our being sent as Jesus’ disciples for the sake of the world?

Tara Beth Leach | Sent Together: Gender Reconciliation as Gospel Proclamation

Recognizing our call as “sent ones” for the sake of the world, the Church in North America has often rooted herself in stories that are a distorted vision of the kingdom story that disfigures the witness of the Church. When the world cried #metoo, the church echoed #churchtoo. The call for the bride of Christ is to offer a drastic alternate way of living, but sometimes our cross-gendered relationships and partnerships look more like the world’s than the kingdom story. This not only harms the witness, but when rooted in the wrong storylines, gifted women and entire people groups are held back from living as sent ones. Let us awaken to and reclaim the redemptive story of men and women not only rooted, but connected in God’s story as we together embrace our call as sent ones.

Charles Montgomery | Mission Impossible

Before the historical Jesus ascended into heaven, he left His church with a mission- a mission to be His witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the utter most parts of the earth.  Unfortunately instead of being open witnesses for Christ, many Christians still operate as if they are secret agents who are performing an impossible task. But no matter how daunting the mission may seem, its outcome is non-negotiable—it must be completed.  This message will turn our attention toward the non-negotiable mission assigned to us by the head of the Church—Christ Himself. We are charged to share the good news with all who will hear about a God who accepts believers from every nation, tribe and tongue.  This mission seems impossible but we are empowered by Christ—the one who triumphs—to ensure that it is completed.

5 essential conversations for church leaders to be engaging in right now. Here's how to join in. #AwakeningsGathering Click To Tweet

For more information about this year’s Awakenings Gathering, click here.

Don’t have tickets yet? It’s not too late!
Join us in-person, or stream all these talks for just $10!

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