1. Modern Problems: A Counselor's View of Cultural Chaos (Alasdair Groves)
Our problems today have new (often digital) costumes, but fundamentally they are not new problems. Humans have suffered and sinned under pressure from cultural chaos since the Garden of Eden. However, the combination of screens, domineering media voices, echo chambers and, above all, the dominant cultural narrative of unbridled individualism has led to a pandemic of unmoored souls. This opening session will examine the particular ways this cultural moment strains and tempts us, with a special focus on the need to redeem toxic independence and its toxic impact on community and technology.
2. Ancient Word, Modern World: How Does Scripture Speak Today? (Mike Emlet)
In the first century, the writer of Hebrews proclaimed that the Word of God is “living and active” (Heb 4:12). Surely then it must speak a life-giving message even today in the midst of our most perplexing and distressing life problems. But where in the Bible do you turn for guidance on modern issues that defy proof-texting? If you can’t find the problem in your Bible’s concordance, what then? This session will propose a Christ-centered interpretive approach to Scripture that can be applied as we seek clarity and wisdom for the multitude of modern issues we face
3. How Trauma Breaks into Scripture (Ed Welch)
On most days, something hard from your past sneaks into the present. Sometimes it assaults you. When it does, we usually refer to it as trauma or PTSD. Though not strictly a modern problem, it is certainly widespread in our modern era. The challenge for biblical counselors is that PTSD is typically partitioned off from Scripture, as if the more serious problems people face need more than Scripture can offer. We will use trauma as a case study in how to break through these partitions and find that the Lord, as we might expect, says much more than we anticipated.
4. Social Isolation and Modern Opportunities (Aaron Sironi)
Thanks to social media we are more connected than ever to so many people all at the same time. We forge online communities with those who share particular interests, ideas, and beliefs. But many, especially the young, feel more alone and disconnected than ever before. In fact, the more time spent on social media, the more likely we are to feel lonely and without meaningful relationships. This plenary will explore the opportunities and unique challenges of modern isolation and friendship in a digitally interconnected world.
5. The Unique Challenges of Modern Community (Jonathan Holmes)
This past season of life has certainly taken a toll on us in a variety of ways. Nowhere is that toll more evident than in our relationships with others! People are increasingly becoming more isolated than ever, which makes constructive dialogue about contentious issues almost impossible. How does the Christian gaze impact and inform how we approach issues of church division, race/ethnicity, political disagreements, and other modern problems? This session will explore God’s vision for community and relationships—what makes it difficult, and what makes it good again? Together we will learn to navigate the challenges we face, and understand the circumstances which impede the flourishing of human relationship.
6. The Unique Challenges of Modern Sexuality (Julie Lowe)
A cultural shift in sexual morality has been one of the most obvious changes in the last two decades. How can Christians wisely make sense of these realities? How can we orient ourselves biblically? Come engage with Scripture as it speaks to the creation of sexuality, the corruption of it, and how it can be redeemed.
7. Experiencing the King's Power Over Every Problem (Ste Casey)
Though we find it hard to believe, the kingdom rule of Jesus has the authority to reverse the curse found in every problem. With Jesus’s absolute lordship in mind, we will sit-in on a personal encounter He has with a long-suffering woman and an important man’s daughter (Mark 5:21–43) and watch His power at work to unravel the ravages of sin and suffering that have brought such confusion and pain. The depth, and grasp, of the problems that we face are neither lost on Him, nor beyond Him. Knowing our need, with total compassion and authority, He reveals His purpose to redeem and renew all who come to Him.
The Age of Overload: When More Is Too Much and Still Not Enough (Laura Andrews)
We live in an age of “more”: more technological innovations and medical advancements, more access to information and opportunities, and more ways to easily communicate and engage with others. All these advantages lead us to expect a longer, fuller, and easier life, and yet we frequently find ourselves dissatisfied, overwhelmed, isolated, and insecure. This workshop will examine how easy it is to forget our creaturely limitations, our broken surroundings, and our fallen nature in a world that promises more than it can deliver and pressures us to be more than God has asked us to be. And even more importantly, we will contemplate God’s compassion for the overloaded and his call to live simply and sustainably as his stewards.
Mindfulness, the Art of Paying Attention, and the God Who is Present (Todd Stryd)
Mindfulness is a ubiquitous topic in today’s world. Its techniques for sensing and feeling in the moment without judgment have permeated everything from school classrooms to corporate offices. But how should Christians think about this phenomenon? And most importantly, what does the Bible say about it? This presentation will offer a biblical way to think about this cultural phenomenon, as well as provide some guidelines for how we can constructively interact with it.
Hope in the Wilderness: Journeying through Singleness & Online Dating (Esther Liu)
For some of us, a life of singleness and dating can feel like a wilderness. Online dating in particular has created new dynamics that often make the journey more confusing and challenging. Faced with unknowns and uncertainties, desolation and unfulfilled desires, life in the wilderness has a way of surfacing painful doubts of God’s love and care for us. How do we ground ourselves in God's truths amidst insecurities, confusion, and disappointment? This breakout will explore the unique challenges of singleness in the 21st century and provide encouragement and orientation to single Christians who seek to navigate these challenges well.
Counselor as Advocate? (Darby Strickland)
Have you sat with a victim of abuse and felt moved to help them connect to other resources and support? Have you desired that their church would know how to care better for them? Sometimes our care for victims will extend beyond our one-on-one relationship with them into their church or other settings. But as we seek to plead another's cause to people outside the counseling relationship, we can quickly find ourselves in uncharted territory. How we advocate, in tenor, tone, and scope, can have helpful or devastating impacts for our counselee, the church, and ourselves. Victims are among the most vulnerable, and it is vital we get this right. Thankfully, we have a biblical model of acting as an advocate because Jesus took on the role of advocate for us (1 John 2:1). Our desire to care, protect, and assist a victim will lead us to think carefully about how and when we engage in advocacy.
The Misuse of Power or Position (Julie Lowe)
Jesus has a clear message to leaders in the body of Christ: “Whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of all” (Matthew 20:26). When personal agendas replace Christ-like ministry the gospel message is corrupted. When leaders misuse their position over the people God has entrusted to their care, people are harmed. Instead of self-promotion and a desire for control, leaders are called to sacrificial love. This workshop will discuss how ministries can guard against the misuse of power by helping you learn to identify, evaluate, and respond to those who misuse their power for personal gain.
Your Story Matters (Robert Cheong)
Finding and crafting your own authentic story has become prominent in modern culture. A person’s story matters because they alone have given it meaning. But in a world filled with brokenness and trauma, where a person’s story can be threatened and even destroyed by life’s hardships, how does God’s story make a difference? How does God answer the biggest questions a person asks—Who am I? What’s my purpose? Why is my life this way? This breakout will explore how God’s story can answer these questions and more—how His story can transform how you live and love, reframe how you look at your identity and your life, redeem your story, and restore your soul. You will walk away confident that your story does truly matter and find real help with modern problems in God's timeless story.
Kids, Teens, Tech, and Screens: Navigating the Digital Deluge (Eliza Huie)
Parenting has never been easy, but raising children in a world saturated with screens has made family life more challenging. Parents feel overwhelmed when it comes to knowing how to navigate appropriate use of screens, social media, video games, and other technology. To avoid drowning in the sea of screens, parents are looking for help that goes beyond internet filters and time limits. Living with screens without being dominated by them is difficult, and essential direction regarding healthy tech use is vital. Eliza Huie, author of Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World, provides parents, youth-ministry workers, and counselors with clear direction and helpful insight on how to navigate the digital deluge. In this breakout she will share helpful tips toward engaging in key conversations and cultivating healthy family rhythms that create space beyond the screen. You will gain indispensable direction toward God-glorifying discipline for the entire family.
Compassionate Discipleship for Christians Experiencing LGBTQ+ Struggles (Ellen Dykas)
The politics of sexual and gender identity connected to all things LGBTQ+ will continue to challenge Christians who are committed to a biblical sexual ethic. However, the transformation that we all need at the heart level will never change; nor will the solution: Jesus! This workshop will not give an apologetic for a biblical worldview on sexuality and gender, or suggest how to engage in politics regarding these important issues. It will provide guidance on how to compassionately disciple Christians who struggle with their sexuality but are also committed to following Jesus Christ.
Fight Like a Girl! How to Disciple Women Who Battle Sexual Addictions (Ellen Dykas)
Women and men alike have a broken sexuality that only Christ can transform and redeem. However, women can experience a unique shame and sense of isolation in response to battles with pornography, solo-sex, fantasy, and promiscuity because so often these temptations and sins are only attributed to men. If you are a caring friend, an interested but intimidated ministry leader, or a male pastor/elder and you do not feel equipped to disciple women who battle sexual addictions, then this breakout session is for you! We will discuss practical discipleship grounded in biblical truth that can lead to heart change, belief transformation, and reoriented desires so women can walk in freedom from sexual sin.
Pushing through Loneliness to Contentment (Cecelia Bernhardt)
The breakdown of the family and community in modern times has produced a pandemic of its own: loneliness. We are isolated now more than ever, and loneliness can tempt us to seek connection on our own terms. This workshop reminds us how the Lord's sovereign care frees us to push through loneliness. We will discuss practical ways to find contentment in him and the relationships that he provides.
Understanding the Motivation Behind Pornography Addiction (Deepak Reju)
We all know that lust is a problem, but what are the deeper motivations behind a porn addict’s pursuit of sexual sin? Why does a believer choose to sin and how does he or she get enslaved to it? How do unbelief, guilt, shame, arousal, temptations, desires and weariness all help to explain an addiction? In this seminar, we seek to go beyond the commonly used behavior management strategies to look at the deeper issues of the heart that move a Christian man or woman to act out on pornography.
A Complex Case of Pornography Addiction (Deepak Reju)
Is pornography just a matter of lust or is there more to it? Rather than being simplistic in our approach, we’ll look at a complex case of pornography addiction within a marriage. What leads a husband to act out? What does accountability and transparency look like in his marriage? How does the wife respond and how does she fight for faith? What does accountability look like within marriage, and outside of marriage? How does the wife cope with the hurt that comes from the husband’s addiction? How does the gospel transform this whole conversation? In this seminar we’ll seek to offer hope and counsel on how to help a couple stuck in the mire of pornography addiction.
Understanding the Experience of Post Traumatic Stress (Brad Hambrick)
Can you articulate the common effects of traumatic events? If we are going to be good ambassadors (II Cor. 5:20) of the compassionate High Priest who understands every way that we suffer (Heb. 2:18), we should. Our counselees shouldn't bear the full responsibility of putting the disorienting effects of trauma into words. One way we care for them is by helping them find language for their experience. In our time together we will explore five common symptom clusters of trauma and consider how to help alleviate the impact of these residual effects of suffering.
Understanding the Experience of Unwanted Same Sex Attraction (Brad Hambrick)
Imagine if your biggest life struggle was only mentioned at church as part of a joke, an insult, or to illustrate a culture war. What if the sentence, "If you need prayer for [blank], we're here for you," never included your struggle? Now imagine your struggle was rooted in a desire for companionship and belonging. That is the experience of many of our friends who grew up in church while experiencing unwanted same sex attraction. In our time together we will reflect on key markers in the lived experience for the purpose of growing in our capacity to be good brothers and sisters in Christ for those who are seeking to honor God with their sexuality while experiencing unwanted same sex attraction.
The Pervasive Problem of Mom Guilt (Lauren Whitman)
“Mom guilt” has likely always existed, but it is particularly ubiquitous in our day and age. As we live our lives online, we see up close what other moms do with their kids—and we are prone to compare. In a culture full of loud voices and opinions, we are overwhelmed with ideas for how best to mother—and prone to feel like we are failing. It seems like each new season of our children’s lives becomes a new occasion to feel guilty about our mothering. How can we understand feelings of mom guilt? How does Scripture help us sort through our hearts, and what godly responses should we aim for amidst this experience? This breakout will explore these matters, and provide practical help and hope for moms and those who minister to moms (including how husbands can help!).
The Crushing Weight of Needing To Be Enough (Ste Casey)
The modern pressures to keep up and stand out can be relentless and exhausting. Culture’s voice is not quiet about the myriad things that we should aim to have and be, and the constant hum of social media invites us to curate an identity or lifestyle that will impress. We feel these pressures, we are drawn to these demands, and we can often find ourselves lost in them. Before we know it, we are slowly crushed by the need to be enough in the eyes of the world. Yet, in Christ we have a better voice, and good news for the exhausted soul. We may not be able to keep up or stand out, but in Him we do. This seminar will lead us to find a new joy in being an ordinary person who is wonderfully “in Christ”.
The Mercies and Misunderstandings of Modern Divorce (Michael Gembola)
Because economic and legal changes have made divorce more accessible in modern times, it has become one of the most significant pastoral care challenges. It is a mercy that those suffering great evil find divorce economically survivable, but it is a significant pastoral care challenge that no-fault divorce has also become legally possible. This session will include a survey of recent debates on the biblical grounds for divorce, and it will also focus on ways for counselors and church leaders to guide and care for those who face times of profound marital crisis.