We will be hosting Pre-Conferences on Monday, January 22nd from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. If you would like to attend a pre-conference please make your selection during your registration.

Scroll down to see all pre-conference options.

Church Planting

Ed Stetzer on Best Practices from Church Planting Research

For this Pre-Conference you will need to sign up through this event site.
Ed Stetzer is one of the world's leading researchers on church planting. As a church planting practitioner, professor, and missiologist, Ed is uniquely able to teach on best practices derived from a broad base of church planting research. Fuller Theological Seminary's Church Planting Program is honored to host this one-day event on Jan. 22, 2018 in Houston, TX. There will be opportunities for Q&A, as well as a panel discussion with current planters.
The conference will be held at the Hilton Americas Hotel and dinner will be on your own at any of the many restaurants at the hotel or within walking distance.

Lead by:


Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than one million individuals each week. Stetzer is also Executive Editor of Facts & Trends Magazine, a Christian leadership magazine with a circulation of more than 70,000 readers. In 2015, he began serving as the co-host of the BreakPoint This Week radio program with John Stonestreet. He also serves as Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has taught at many other colleges and seminaries. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.


Global Engagement

We're in This Together

We live in a globalized world, where cross-cultural mission is nearer to our doorsteps than ever before, and the ends of the earth don’t seem so far away. Even so, 2 billion people in the world do not have access to the Gospel and many suffer injustices from poverty and war.  To reach this world that God loves, we must admit that as a global Church, “We’re in this together!”
We need each other. Churches in the Global South need a witness from the Western church to encourage, pray, and support them as they face challenging local realities. Our churches in North America need a witness from beyond our culture, to help us see and respond to the changing cultural realties in our own communities. When we engage in mission together, we grow and God’s Kingdom flourishes. 
The Global Engagement pre-conference will call us connect and commit to global & local mission partnerships that serve to catalyze Kingdom mission in every corner of the world.

Lead by:


Sameh Hanna

Pastor Sameh Hanna  is Executive and Associate Pastor at Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church in Cairo, Egypt,  the largest evangelical church in the Middle East and the Arab world. Sameh is responsible for KDEC’s ministry teams serving inside the church as well as Missions and the international partnerships.


Led by: 

 Phil serves as Senior Strategy Advisor with visionSynergy, a ministry specializing in international ministry partnership and network development.  Over the last 30 years he has worked in over 70 countries as head, first, of Intercristo, then Interdev. He has written extensively in the field of communications and missions and is author of the book, Well Connected: Releasing Power, Restoring Hope Through Kingdom Partnerships.

A special Monday evening program will spotlight how local churches can engage with the growing challenges and opportunities for the gospel in welcoming refugees and immigrants. Our pre-conference speakers will be joined by Cindy Wu.  

Lead by: 

Cindy M. Wu


Cindy M. Wu is a wife and homeschooling mom in Houston, TX. In her “spare time” she enjoys researching and writing on global Christianity and refugees, as well as serving in her community. She is co-author of Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing World (Baker Academic, 2015) and author of A Better Country: Embracing the Refugees in Our Midst (William Carey Library Publishers, June 2017), a resource challenging Christians to respond to the global refugee crisis.




Summary: The Flourishing In Ministry study is a Lilly-funded research project based out of the University of Notre Dame. Focused on the wellbeing of clergy and their families, Flourishing in Ministry examines what motivates pastors to be engaged in ministry and what disrupts them from experiencing wellbeing in their work. In our research, we attempt to explore how clergy, often working with lean resources, can give so much to others, and experience a sense of fulfillment and growth in their daily work lives.
Learning Objective #1: Participants will gain an understanding of the dimensions of human flourishing from a social science research perspective.
Learning Objective #2: Participants will learn to articulate the conditions, factors, and practices that lead to well-being among clergy.
Learning Objective #3: Participants will learn to identify the kinds of relationships that all pastors need in order to flourish in ministry.
Abstract: The data from our survey and interview research has provided a solid foundation for developing a conceptual model of clergy well-being. This model comprises two major categories of well-being, one that is related to daily emotional and cognitive well-being and another that is related to on-going thriving and engagement. Pastoral identity is of central importance for long-term clergy well-being. Pastors with strong, stable, and positive identities seem to be on positive trajectories of well-being and effectiveness, whereas those with weak, variable, or negative identities seem much more susceptible to low levels of well-being. The identity formed early in a pastor’s ministry life, during the period we call initial enactment, might set clergy on a trajectory of well-being. We have early data on how identity threats and demands, such as complaints from parishioners, negative challenges from lay members, and churches which demand that pastors confirm to their expectations for ministry, might damage pastoral identities. Ministry context has a significant impact on clergy well-being. For example, we measured pastor-ministry fit as the degree to which pastors feel that (a) their knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality match the needs and requirements of the church they serve (i.e., abilities fit) and (b) the extent to which pastors perceive that their core values and beliefs match those of their congregation (i.e., values fit).Clergy are, in fact, always deeply embedded and enmeshed in a web of relationships which have profound and lasting effects on their well-being. Clergy who really do work alone, without vital connections to other people, face some of the most powerful challenges to sustained well-being. In our current research, five types of relationships are important for clergy well-being: (1)family, (2) personal friends, (3) the congregation of the local church the pastor serves, both (4) formal and informal leaders within their denomination or judicatory, and (5) other pastors within their denomination. Self-regulatory capacity is a strong influence on well-being and resilience, which includes self-awareness, self-reflectiveness, self-control (including cognitive, motivational, and emotional regulation), and goal setting capacities.


Lead by:


Chris Adams  

Rev. Chris Adams, PhD, grew up in a music ministry family in the  Nashville area. He is a third generation  pastor's kid, and an ordained minister. Chris served in full-time  music ministry for several years  after  college, and then as an associate pastor at a large church for five years during and after seminary. He was  also provided pastoral  care to missionary families while completing  doctoral work in clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Having recently completed 8 years as an  Associate Campus Pastor at Azusa Pacific  University, Chris is  currently serving as the Executive Director of the APU Center for Vocational  Ministry This new center is focused on cultivating resilience in ministry leaders through formational research, resources, and relationships. He also teaches ministry leadership and pastoral care and  counseling courses in the  seminary. Chris is a consultant to a  number of denominations and seminaries in  the areas of clergy candidate assessment, clergy health, and pastoral leadership formation. He is currently participating as a consultant and researcher with the Duke Clergy  Health  Initiative, Profiles in Ministry Project for the Association of  Theological Schools, and the Flourishing  In Ministry project at the  University of  Notre Dame . Chris is a  frequent speaker at seminaries, retreats,  and conferences. He is married to Lori,  a cardiac nurse, and they have two children - Lexi (7) and Cole (3). Chris enjoys  spending time with his family,  playing tennis, scuba diving, and music  (especially jazz).


Jennifer Graffius

Rev. Jenn Graffius, MDiv oversees ministry-focused mentoring for undergraduate students and women-in-ministry initiatives in the Center for Vocational Ministry (CVM) at Azusa Pacific University.  Jenn is also the chaplain to Azusa Pacific Seminary students and an adjunct faculty member in the APU School of Theology’s Department of Practical Theology.  Jenn was the first person ordained in ECO. She has pastoral leadership experience in church ministry and campus ministry. Jenn is working on her Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Mentoring at Duke Divinity School, and is a frequent guest preacher and retreat speaker.


Elders & Lay Leaders

Equipping Christians for ‘Frontline’ Ministry

Too many Christians wonder, “Does God have a purpose for my everyday life?” The reality is that every Christian has a daily mission on their ‘frontline’ – workplaces, schools, communities – wherever! This seminar will introduce a framework to help lay leaders empower their congregations to serve God in their everyday life, no matter where God has placed them throughout the week. Join Chris Lake, Executive Director of the Vere Institute, and Jon Paul, Senior Pastor of Free Christian Church, as they lead a discussion about how lay leaders can equip their congregations to have a fruitful ministry where they already are.


Chris Lake

Chris Lake is a founder and the executive director of the Vere Institute.  Chris served for 10 years in the US Navy as a Naval Flight Officer on aircraft carriers – so being on the frontline is nothing new!  The past 11 years he has concentrated on the frontline in the business community, first at IBM and most recently as the founder of an educational consulting company in Boston. He holds a BS in Engineering from Northwestern University, an MS in Technological Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University, and an MS in Management from London Business School.


Jon Paul

Jon Paul or “JP” became the Senior Pastor of Free Christian Church in 2012. Jon has been part of the staff team at FCC since 2002, serving as the Director of Youth Ministries and later as the North Andover Campus Pastor. Jon has a passion to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ and grow as disciples of Jesus. Jon also enjoys reading, fly fishing, camping and playing with his kids. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jon and his wife, Clancey, live in Andover with their two children.


Youth Leaders
Note: If you and your team would like to attend this pre-conference but not attend the entire gathering, please contact for more information. 

Growing Young Seminar & Workshop: Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

Unleashing the passion of young people in your church is possible! Churches are losing both members and vitality as increasing numbers of young people disengage. Based on groundbreaking research with over 250 of the nation's leading congregations, Growing Young provides a strategy any church can use to involve and retain teenagers and young adults. It profiles innovative churches that are engaging 15- to 29-year-olds and as a result are growing-spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically. Growing Young co-author Jake Mulder will show church leaders how to position their churches to engage younger generations in a way that breathes vitality, life, and energy into the whole church. 

Lead by:


Jake Mulder  

Jake Mulder is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Fuller Youth Institute. He has worked in a variety of ministry and professional roles, including as a youth pastor in the Reformed Church of America, ministry director with Youth for Christ, and missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Europe and Asia.

Find more information at:
Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International

Growing the Church...In Step With the Spirit

Much is written about listening to prayer and the Holy Spirit's guidance for individuals. But how can we truly cooperate with the Holy Spirit as a session or ministry leadership team?  How can we truly embrace God's sovereign leadership of our local church in various specific expressions, thus "keeping in step" with the Spirit? 
Working with the analogy of partners in ballroom dancing, each participant will discover:
  • The foundations that need to be in place so that churches and individuals can step out onto the 'dance floor'
  • The dynamic 'dance steps' that need to be learned in order to keep in step with the Holy Spirit
  • The pitfalls and benefits involved in seeking to operate under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this way
Although we offer retreats, books and a video study that you might want to consider for follow-up, you will not walk away from this pre-conference with a "program."  You will, however, come away having been refreshed by being invited into a process, a dynamic approach, which you can begin to practice in your own ministry team or session.  Interspersed with brief introductions to the two foundations and seven dynamics, we will enjoy some guided prayer together in small groups and spend some time "debriefing" together.   You will have time to connect with other church leaders through prayer, encouragement and practicing the 'steps in the dance'.  It is our sincere hope that each person comes away from this pre-conference having a 'taste' of the refreshment, vision and joy of this approach.