Thomas Aquinas said simply, “Beauty is that which, when seen, pleases.” Beauty is the combination of several elements which, when put into the right form, are pleasing. This is the nature of beauty. It pleases. But that is not all beauty is meant for. It is meant to lead us to doxology—to praise. Beauty is a way God loves us. And when we encounter beauty, we ought to love God in return. At this conference we will explore that nature and use of beauty in Christian spiritual formation. It is an often overlooked aspect of our life with God.
9:00 am – 4:00 pm/Intensive Pre-Sessions
6:15 pm/Evening Prayer in “The Sanctuary”
7:00 pm/Opening Session featuring James Bryan Smith and aTalk speaker Kyle Strobel
8:30 am/Morning Prayer in “The Sanctuary”
9:00 am/Morning Session featuring aTalk speaker Soong-Chan Rah
11:00 am/Workshops #1
12:00 pm/Lunch on own
12:15 pm/Noonday Prayer in “the Sanctuary”
2:00 pm/Afternoon Session featuring aTalk speaker Jen Pollock Michel
4:00 pm/Workshops #2
5:00 pm/Dinner on own and evening free
5:15 pm/Evening Prayer in “The Sanctuary”
8:30 am /Morning Prayer in “The Sanctuary”
9:00 am /Morning Session featuring aTalk speakers Kent Annan and Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
12:00 pm /Apprentice Gathering 2016 Dismisses
Thursday, Sept 29
Intensive pre-sessions are all day courses where you will drill deep into one topic of your choosing. Choose one of the following sessions to attend from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Stephen W. Smith – The Inside Job of Leadership: Caring for the Soul of those who Aspire
Jan Johnson – Experiments in Christlikeness: Wisdom in How We Respond to God’s Invitations to Transformation
Matt Johnson – Foundations of Christian Spiritual (Trans)Formation
Stan Harstine – Scripture as Staple: Nourishment for a Lifetime of Transformation with Jesus
Steve Porter – Dallas Willard on Natural and Supernatural Transformation
Jane Albright – The Blessedness of Coaching in this Competitive World… How Understanding His Kingdom changed my Job Description.
11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Workshops on Friday, Sept. 30 are included in the regular conference registration. Workshop sessions are offered at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. by the aTalk speakers and friends. Topics are the same at each time unless noted otherwise. You choose which workshop you would like to attend from the following:
James Bryan Smith (11 a.m. only) – Exploring Your Identity as an Apprentice (Workshop is FULL)
Jen Pollock Michel – That Lovin’ Feeling: Making Desire Central to Discipleship
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson – Wisdom of a Christian Mentor
Kyle Strobel – The Formative Nature of Church Practices
Kent Annan – The Practice of Truthing: How Our Search for Truth Can Shape Us, Free Us, and Guide Our Love of Neighbor.
Soong-Chan Rah –
Casey Tygrett – Spiritual Curiosity
Dr. John Robinson – The Carpenter’s Apprentice: Taking up the Tools Jesus Uses to Transform Us
Rob Loane (11 a.m. only) – A Leadership of Companionship: Inviting and Igniting Kingdom Life in Community
Jill Fisk (4 p.m. only) – Christ-Centered Chair Yoga
Super Early Bird Registration
Register by June 1
Thursday Intensive Session
Early Bird Registration
Register by August 8
August 9 until Gathering
“James Bryan Smith has assembled an incredible team at Apprentice. Their annual Gatherings are phenomenal. If you’re looking to stay on the cutting edge of the Spiritual Formation movement, then get there!”
Renovaré Board Chair
Jen Pollock Michel
Teach Us to Want
If to be human is to want, to be Christian is to want as well. Jen will explore the language of the Lord’s Prayer as vocabulary for holy desire, demonstrating that followers of Jesus must not abandon desire so much as seek its renovation. Learning to pray as Jesus prayed, we learn to want as Jesus wanted. And when holy desire is formed in us, we begin willing and working for God’s good pleasure (cf. Phil. 2:13).
The Wisdom of the Cross: The Way of Weakness for Kingdom Power
The Christian life has always been understood as a life of wisdom. In this talk we unpack the nature of Christian wisdom by looking to Christ and his embrace of weakness – walking the way of the cross to receive the power of God in resurrection. This movement of death to life, of weakness for the power of God, is the fundamental movement of all Christian practice, and it establishes the contours of true kingdom living. The embrace of worldly power will destroy us, but grasping onto God’s power in our weakness will bring us life.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Mentoring and Kingdom Connections
The two most important things we learn in this life is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self. What we embrace as true about God and ourselves is often shaped through time, history, and location, and the relationships God divinely orchestrated in our life paths. This is why mentoring and intentionally making disciples across generations is necessary kingdom work. This shared wisdom is transformative and shapes the worldview of the mentor, mentee, and all those they have the privilege of influencing.
Slow Kingdom Coming: On Spiritual Practices that Both Shape Our Inner Lives and Help Us to Do the Work of Justice Better
The Necessity of Lament
“The chance to attend two Apprentice Institute national conferences was a wonderful experience for me. The lectures and seminars were rich with insight I continue to ponder and pray through. If you have the chance to attend the national conference, snap it up. You won’t be disappointed. And you will be blessed!”
THURSDAY INTENSIVE PRE-SESSIONS
Intensive pre-sessions are offered on Thursday, Setember 29th from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. They offer you the opportunity to drill deep into a topic and steep in all the presenters have to offer. You choose one topic for the entire day. Additional pre-registration is required for intensive sessions.
Stephen W. Smith
The Inside Job of Leadership: Caring for the Soul of those who Aspire
Those who give, must be given to—but how? How does a leader learn to navigate the whitewater of competing demands and rivaling priorities? What does care really look like to the leader who gives; travels fast and wants to grow deeper? How do we lead well and live well? These questions and more will be explored in this one day seminar with topics to include: understanding the “soul” and what “care” looks like in today’s world, the paradox of seeking balance vs. rhythm, cultivating a sustainable rhythm of life, fostering resiliency in 5 key areas of life, developing a model for the care of your soul, enduring Wilderness for a purpose, living with robust sanity: how?
Experiments in Christlikeness: Wisdom in How We Respond to God’s Invitations to Transformation
Do spiritual practices seem dry and lifeless? Are you thinking you’ll never become the person you’d love to be? If so, you’re making transformation too complicated. Connecting with God is the real issue—that changes you. Do only the things Jesus invites you into. Enjoy an interactive life with God. Really. Join us as we explore this. What would it look like for you to love God for the next ten minutes?
Foundations of Christian Spiritual (Trans)Formation
Christian spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines, narrative, intentional community. These are terms growing in popularity, but what do they mean? And better yet, how might they work together as tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit to help us grow into Christ-likeness? This intensive will link these popular terms with the model of apprenticeship which Jesus employed as he proclaimed the good news of God’s available kingdom and sparked a world-changing revolution! We will draw upon the wisdom of the Apprentice Series, written by James Bryan Smith. Don’t let the word “intensive” fool you, this day of learning will utilize short lecture, experiential learning, small group discussion, personal reflection, and multi-media to help you grasp, process and apply these important concepts.
Scripture as Staple: Nourishment for a Lifetime of Transformation with Jesus
Numerous books prove themselves useful for gaining insight into the journey of spiritual formation. Many of these are challenging enough for us to return to them again. None of them, however, have the life giving power of Scripture. During our hours together we will share recipes for, and a meal from, the ultimate nourishment. We will examine our perceptions of Scripture together and seek practical ways to digest its transforming power in our lives in ways that will nourish us for a lifetime with Jesus.
Dallas Willard on Natural and Supernatural Transformation
Dallas Willard has been a helpful resource to many in their apprenticeship to Jesus. One element of Willard’s view of formation that requires special attention involves two different formation processes: natural formation and supernatural formation. Natural formation is what persons can do “on their own” to bring about character change while supernatural formation is a process of character change that depends on the empowering presence of the Spirit. While it can be easy to focus on one or the other process of formation, Willard recognized the vital importance of both natural and supernatural formation for the Christian life. What can be confusing is that spiritual disciplines are involved in different ways in both natural and supernatural formation. Getting some clarity on the distinct role of the disciplines in natural and supernatural formation can help Jesus followers be more intentional (and potentially, less discouraged) in their spiritual practices. In this session we will examine Willard’s understanding of how formation occurs both naturally and supernaturally, the role of the disciplines in each, and what practical difference this can make in how we approach our apprenticeship to Jesus.
The Blessedness of Coaching in this Competitive World…..How Understanding His Kingdom changed my Job Description
“The Apprentice Gathering is unique and beautiful because it seeks to be a generous conversation about spiritual formation and transformation. Being a part of that conversation is something I long for every year – a cool drink of water in the middle of the journey.”
Parkview Christian Church
Workshops on Friday, Sept. 30th are included in the regular conference registration. Workshop sessions are offered at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. by the aTalk speakers. Topics are the same at each time unless noted otherwise. You choose which workshop you would like to attend from the following:
Jen Michel Pollock
That Lovin’ Feeling: Making Desire Central to Discipleship
Augustine wrote, “The whole of the good Christian is a holy longing.” In this workshop, Jen will explore what discipleship looks like when the formation of holy desire, not the acquisition of knowledge or the reformation of behavior, is central to the task. Though we’re rightly suspicious about desire’s corruption (and the heart’s self-deceit), the gospel guarantees that the Christ who delighted to do the will of his Father will be formed in us.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Wisdom of a Christian Mentor
Building on the foundation of Proverbs 4:7 this workshop will challenge leaders to consider how they can mentor and impart wisdom wherever they are. This workshop will redefine mentoring from a Christian worldview, and offer practical, theological, and relational insights to embrace the great commandment and great commission whether serving in the marketplace, at home, or in a congregation.
The Formative Nature of Church Practices
This workshop will focus on how the communal practices of the church body are essential for our spiritual formation. By linking this workshop with his keynote address, Kyle will show how each of our practices should be linked to our understanding of Christian power against the powers of the world. It is in the church where Christians learn the movement and rhythm of Christ’s power in weakness.
The Practice of Truthing: How Our Search for Truth Can Shape Us, Free Us, and Guide Our Love of Neighbor.
In this seminar we’ll talk about seeking God’s truth. We’ll also get into the nitty gritty of how you or your church can practice seeking truth in a way that helps everyone involved, especially as it relates to discipleship and to loving our neighbors.
James Bryan Smith
11 a.m. Only (WORKSHOP IS FULL)
Exploring Your Identity as an Apprentice
Words are powerful. What words describe who and what you are? Through the passage of Colossians 3:1-17 Dr. Smith explores how various words, individual words, are a rich resource for understanding what it means to have our lives hidden in Chirst and what that identity in him truly means.
Jesus’ primary way for helping people understand the unfathomable Kingdom of God was to engage their curiosity. This workshop will explore practices that help us search out the Kingdom of God through engaging, stoking, and fueling the curiosity God has rooted deep within each of us.
Dr. John Robinson
The Carpenter’s Apprentice: Taking up the Tools Jesus Uses to Transform Us
Dallas Willard often said that Jesus is not just nice, He is brilliant! In this session we will explore the deep wisdom of the carpenter from Nazareth. Jesus is a master craftsman who knows how to make apprentices. His genius profoundly shapes us when we enter the gospels and join the first disciples in loosening our grip on all the things we think we need for a “secure” and “successful” journey. Instead, as we also receive the four invitations to take up a yoke, cup, basin and cross, we find new postures, rhythms and opportunities opening up before us. These four humble symbols (that a first century carpenter could have made) are essential tools of the trade for personal and community transformation.
A Leadership of Companionship: Inviting and Igniting Kingdom Life in Community
Christian adult formation is a work of cultural resistance. Just a quick glance around our communities reveals that people’s lives are more often a reflection of our culture’s superficiality than of the depth and power of the gospel. What sort of presence and pathway do we need to provide for adults to grow deeper into Christ, becoming people of wisdom, integrity, compassion, and deep joy?
The Changing Context of American Christianity
Christ-Centered Chair Yoga
What happens when our most basic elements of humanness (breath and prayer and movement) intersect with our God-given longings to worship and be in relationship with Him? This workshop features an extended time of stretching our bodies and our souls — from an ordinary chair! No experience or equipment or special attire required. Come move and breathe and explore the expanse of His love for you.
“I believe every Christian should have at least one mountaintop experience every year to learn, connect, and refresh spiritually. The Apprentice Gathering is my annual can’t-miss experience.”
Executive Director – Ministry and Communication
COLLEGE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
What is it?
The College Student Experience is a Christian spiritual formation retreat designed for college-aged individuals to learn about and experience the Kingdom of God. This event is held on the campus of Friends University in Wichita, KS as part of the overall Apprentice Gathering. This college track will integrate portions of the Apprentice Gathering while featuring specific elements and opportunities for college students only.
What You Will Experience
Teaching…from Matt Johnson, Jen Pollock Michel and many others.
Group Discussions…to process material learned and share ideas.
Spiritual Practices…to coincide with each of the teaching sessions.
Kingdom Community…created as you share time with other college students.
Thursday, Sept. 29
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.”Foundations of Christian Spiritual Formation” Intensive Session w/ Matt Johnson*
7:00 p.m. Opening Session with James Bryan Smith and Kyle Strobel*
Friday, Sept. 30
9:00 a.m. Morning Session “Invitation to the Kingdom” w/ Matt Johnson
11:00 a.m. Workshops on Spiritual Practices
12:00 p.m. Lunch on your own
2:00 p.m. Afternoon session with Jen Pollock Michel*
4:00 p.m. Small Group Discussion
5:00 p.m. Dinner on your own
7:00 p.m. Evening Worship
Saturday, Oct. 1
9:00 a.m. Morning Session “Formation as a Process” w/ Matt Johnson
12:00 p.m. Apprentice Gathering 2016 Dismisses
*this portion of the College Student Experience is also part of the main Apprentice Gathering event.
Price- $50 per student
Group Rate- Bring 10 or more students from one organization and receive $5 off for each student.
For more information contact A.J. Cossell at 316.295.5534 or email her at email@example.com
Jenna Easley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Pollock Michel
Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want, Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year, which is also produced as an original video series by RightNow Media. Her forthcoming book on the longing for home is expected in early 2017. Jen is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s popular Her.meneutics blog. At churches and conferences, Jen speaks on topics of practical theology. Wife and mother of five, Jen is an active member of Grace Toronto Church and enthusiastic supporter of HOPE International and Safe Families. She belongs to Redbud Writers Guild and INK. You can find more at www.jenpollockmichel.com or follow Jen on Twitter @jenpmichel.
Dr. Kyle Strobel
Dr. Kyle Strobel is an assistant professor of Spiritual Theology and Formation at Biola University, La Mirada, CA, where he and his family live and serve. Kyle is on the preaching team at Redeemer La Mirada, and is devoted to helping recover an understanding of spiritual formation that breathes life into the local church. He is the author of Beloved Dust: Drawing Close to God by Discovering the Truth About Yourself (co-written with Jamin Goggin) and Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards. Kyle’s forthcoming book (January 2017) is on Jesus’ way of power in weakness.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is the author of Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship (Zondervan, 2016). She is a gifted Bible teacher and writer, in addition to being an anti-human trafficking advocate, champion for education, and community organizer.
Natasha graduated cum laude (M.A. in Christian Leadership) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Charlotte, where she received the Redemptive Leadership Award. She is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Marine Corps officer. With over 15 years of leadership and mentoring experience in the military, government, church, seminary, and nonprofit sectors, she is a sought after consultant and speaker.
Kent Annan is author of Slow Kingdom Coming (May 2016), After Shock(2011) and of Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle (2009). He is co-director of Haiti Partners, a nonprofit focused on education in Haiti. He’s on the board of directors of Equitas Group, a philanthropic foundation focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia.
He’s a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Palm Beach Atlantic University (B.A.). He teaches adult education at his local church. He speaks regularly to groups around the country. He is married to Shelly, and they live in Florida with their daughter (2005) and son (2009).
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (IVP Books, 2009); Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Moody, 2010); and co-editor of Honoring the Generations: Learning with Asian North American Congregations (Judson, 2012). He is the co-author of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014) and the author of Prophetic Lament, a commentary on the book of Lamentations (IVP Books, 2015).
Soong-Chan received his B.A. in Political Science and History/Sociology from Columbia University; his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; his Th.M. from Harvard University; his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is currently in the Th.D. program at Duke University.
THURSDAY INTENSIVE SPEAKERS
Jan Johnson is the author of 21 books (including Abundant Simplicity, Invitation to the Jesus Lifeand Spiritual DisciplinesCompanion) and truckloads of Bible studies. A speaker and spiritual director for 20 years, she is passionate about helping people have an authentic relationship with God and experiencing the transformation that flows from that. She holds a D. Min. in Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction and teaches at several universities. She lives with her husband in Simi Valley, California (www.JanJohnson.org).
Stan Harstine, Ph.D. is Professor of Religion at Friends University where he serves as the Bible faculty member. He worked with his colleague, James Bryan Smith, to begin the undergraduate studies program in Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University. His goal is to help individuals grasp the importance of the Bible for spiritual formation and, more importantly, help them understand their perception of the Bible and its role in their life as a follower of Jesus. He is married to a wonderful kindergarten teacher and has three adult sons.
Steve Porter is a Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and at Rosemead School of Psychology (both schools are a part of Biola University). He completed his Ph.D. in philosophy under Dallas Willard’s supervision at the University of Southern California. Prior to that Steve completed master’s degrees at University of Oxford and Talbot School of Theology. Steve teaches and writes on topics in spiritual formation, psychology and theology, and philosophical theology. He also serves as the managing editor of the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care and as scholar-in-residence at Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought. Steve lives in Long Beach, CA with his wife Alicia, their two children, Luke and Siena, and their chocolate Labrador retriever, Ranger. Steve enjoys eating sushi with his wife, running 5Ks with his son, camping with his daughter, and playing fetch with his dog.
Jane Albright is in her eighth season as the head coach of the University of Nevada women’s basketball team in 2015-16, and her 32nd overall season. She previously coached at Wichita State University for five seasons and the University of Wisconsin. She was part of the pilot group to experience the Apprentice Series material and has utilized the practices she learned through that experience to lead her players in what she calls “kingdom coaching”.
Stephen W. Smith
Stephen W. Smith is Co-Founders, President and Spiritual Directors of Potter’s Inn in Colorado and author of the book “Inside Job: Doing the Work Within the Work”. Steve was educated at Lenoir Rhyne College, NC, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, KY; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, IL. Steve has pastored churches in KY, NC and the Netherlands. As a speaker, spiritual director, author and companion, Steve offers soul care and spiritual direction through sessions and his published resources. Steve is married to Gwen and has four adult sons and three daughters-in-law. Steve enjoys a cup of strong brewed coffee and a brisk walk on a trail.
Matthew Johnson is a contemplative pilgrim stumbling along the path that is Jesus the Christ. His primary calling is to the practice of spiritual direction, helping others listen for God’s guidance in their lives. Matthew is the director of spiritual formation for SoCe Life www.SoCeLife.org a non-profit organization focused on strengthening the South Central neighborhood of Wichita, KS, by building relationships and inviting people to share their gifts and skills. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Friends University. In 2009, Matthew wrote the leader’s guide for the Apprentice Series of books (The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community). Prior to working with SoCe Life, Matthew served at the Andover United Methodist Church as the assistant minister for 15 years. He and his wife, Catherine recently hiked the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile spiritual pilgrimage across Spain.
ADDITIONAL WORKSHOP SPEAKERS
Casey Tygrett (D.Min.) is a pastor, writer, and spiritual director living in Chicago, IL. He is the author of a forthcoming title from Intervarsity Press on curiosity and spiritual formation. His blog is www.caseytygrett.com or follow on Twitter @cktygrett.
Dr. John Robinson
Dr. John Robinson is a teacher, speaker and pastor from Melbourne, Australia. John is the founding director of the LightStream Institute, a spiritual formation organisation in the Australia/Pacific region that aligns with the good work Apprentice is doing around the globe.
Rob Loane serves with VantagePoint3 Ministries an organization committed to providing Christian approaches to adult formation. He is integrally involved in the design and development of the VantagePoint3 Pathway, a unique set of three 6-9 month processes designed for churches and communities to invite a deeper discipleship and adult development. Rob is coauthor with Randy Reese of Deep Mentoring: Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey (IVP Books, 2012). He graduated from Albright College and Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Before joining the VP3 team in 2004 he worked at Biola University in a number of capacities including resident director and faculty instructor. Rob now lives in Sioux Falls, SD with his wife, Sarah, and their children Elliott and Rosie.
Jill Fisk serves as Director of Soul Care for Holy Yoga Ministries, an international yoga teacher training ministry that exists to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga. She teaches spiritual formation to Holy Yoga instructors and leadership. Jill is a spiritual director whose passion is to help ministry leaders live holy and whole lives with God: spirit, soul, and body. She teaches Holy Yoga in St. Louis, MO where she lives with her husband and their three children.
Founded in 1898 by the Religious Society of Friends, today Friends University provides undergraduate and graduate liberal arts instruction within the context of the Christian faith. Historic Alumni Auditorium will house the primary elements of The Apprentice Gathering.
Hyatt Regency Wichita
$114/night is the rate for the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency Wichita (rate available until September 6, 2016). A 5-minute drive from Friends University (free airport and event shuttles are available) it is located downtown overlooking the Arkansas River and features free parking. You will not find a closer hotel to the conference nor such a tremendous value (week night regular rates are $149+). This great rate is available for September 29 – October 1. To reserve a room, visit the Hyatt website here. If you need additional assistance, please call 1-888-421-1442.
Southwest, Delta, United, Et Al
Most major airlines serve Wichita. Book your flight early to ensure a good price. Contact Bonnie Parker of AAA Travel (1-316-722-6226) if you would like assistance in making your travel arrangements.
Ministry Resource Area
Become a Ministry Partner Today
The Ministry Resource Area offers participants the opportunity learn about and connect with incredible Christian spiritual formation ministries from across the globe as well as seminaries offering degrees in Christian spiritual formation. To become a Ministry Partner and help support The Apprentice Institute click here to learn more. You can also contact Kara Yuza at email@example.com.
The Apprentice Series and other books, including those by the featured speakers, will be available at The Apprentice Gathering. A stellar local bookstore, Eighth Day Books, specializing in classic books across the disciplines of art, science, and the humanities will be on site as well as InterVarsity Press. You will want to make time to peruse the selections of both.
Regular registration includes access to all aTalks and the Friday workshops. Thursday intensives and Apprentice Fundraising Dinner are additional costs. No meals are included with registration. Childcare is not available. Cancellation fee: $25/person. No refunds after September 16, 2016.