Category Archives: Presentations

Adam McLane: A Bigger We

 About Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a Partner at The Youth Cartel and Principal at McLane Creative.

Kristen and Adam have been married 16 years and live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their rowdy children, Megan, Paul, and Jackson.

Jen Bradbury: The Jesus Gap

Youth Director, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Jen Bradbury is a career youth worker with a diverse spiritual heritage that makes her uniquely qualified for youth work. Jen currently serves as the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL and writes for Youth Worker Journal and the Christian Century. She lives in Glen Ellyn, IL with her husband, Doug, and blogs at

The Jesus Gap

Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith. But what do high school students actually believe about Jesus? During this session, I’ll share findings from a year-long research study I conducted that explores what high school students in the ELCA believe about Jesus. (This study built upon research from the National Study of Youth & Religion as well as the College Transition Project and featured surveys from 369 high school students in the ELCA as well as data from focus groups and interviews conducted at four representative ELCA congregations). We’ll also explore what these findings mean for congregations – regardless of whether or not they’re in the ELCA; And how to use them to strengthen the Christologies of our students.

Matt Laidlaw: God, The Definitive Mix

Director of Kids and Students Ministries, Mars Hill Bible Church

Matt Laidlaw is the Director of Kids + Students Ministries at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a graduate of Kuyper College and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and has lived and studied in the Middle East. He serves as an adjunct instructor of Bible at a local college, leads camp, retreat, and pilgrimage experiences, and writes, teaches, and trains on student ministry and theology. Matt is a sports enthusiast, poor joke-teller, and food snob.

Session Title:

God, The Definitive Mix: An Age-Appropriate Narrative Hermeneutic

Session Description:

Be Like King David. Here are 10 Verses about Why You Shouldn’t Do Drugs. As youth workers we’ve all uttered these (or similar) words to our students and volunteers regarding the Christian life. Although seemingly age-appropriate at the time, this way of interacting with the Bible and obedience lacks the theological and intellectual integrity our students deserve. In this seminar we’ll challenge the traditional proof-texting model of teaching and propose a way forward that encourages the possibility of an honest and lasting spiritual journey for our students through the lens of an Age-Appropriate Narrative Hermeneutic.

Jim Dekker: Great Expectations, Conversations on Expectations in Ministry


Associate Professor of Ministry, Cornerstone University

About Jim:

Dr. Jim Dekker has worked with youth in the Christian community for 30 years and in many capacities.  He is currently a professor of ministry at Cornerstone University and has taught Youth Ministry at North Park University (Chicago) for 11 yrs.  Jim holds a Bachelor’s degree in theology, an MA Christian Education, and a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he studied adolescent respect.  Jim continues to do consulting and spends time studying the variety of topics related to youth ministry. Jim enjoys spending time with youth pastors; hearing good and bad stories of ministry; and seeing God at work in the lives of others.

Session Title:

Great Expectations: Conversations on Expectations in Ministry

Eric Woods: Facilitating Great Games With Students

Retreats Director, SpringHill Camps

Eric is the Retreats Director at SpringHill Camps, one of the largest Christian camps in the country. Before he joined the world of retreats and camping, he was a campus minister with a large, non-denominational campus ministry serving the Central Michigan University community. He blogs about life, leadership and ministry at

Session Title:

Facilitating Great Games With Students

Session Description:

Eric consistently challenges his staff at camp to think “20 feet off the ground.” After all, if something is fun on the ground, wouldn’t it be more fun up in the air? In this session, he will share the framework he uses to facilitate great games at camp, based on an organizational philosophy that integrates faith and fun, rather than separates it.

Darwin Glassford: Lessons from the dark side

Professor, Calvin Theological Seminary

Darwin’s first youth ministry responsibilities were assigned in 1976. Since that time he has served in youth ministry, high adventure education programs and pastoral positions in FL, NC, WI, and MI. Youth ministry drove him to graduate school and since earning a PhD in Educational Foundations and Theology he has taught at Montreat College (NC) and Salt Lake Theological Seminary (UT); he is currently a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary (MI) and executive pastor at Harderwyk Ministries (MI).


Session Title:

Lessons from the dark side

Session Description:

Having started in youth ministry many aeons ago, teaching youth ministry and assisting in two church plants I’ve recently added to my responsibilities the role of executive pastor for Harderwyk Ministries ( Hardewyk Ministries is composed of three worshiping communities that share common youth and education ministries. The seminar is designed to assist youth workers in understanding how a senior/executive pastor thinks, the questions they ask, and the pressures they face.

Rachel Blom: Preaching in Post-Christian Contexts

A lot has changed in youth ministry in the last decades, but we still preach messages. We may use media, or other ‘enhancements’, but we still preach. The question is: with a society that’s becoming ever more post-Christian, does preaching still work? Can and will teens listen for twenty minutes or more to someone explaining the Bible to them?

In this pre-conference intensive, we will explore the style of preaching that reaches a post-Christian generation with the wonderful message of a Savior who died for their sins. What do you need to change in your method and approach to preaching to become more effective in making teens hear what God has to say to them through you?