DAY OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Speakers and Sessions

Joel De Boer

Joel has been in ministry for 25 years, primarily in “rural ministry.” For the last 13 years he has served in Britt, Iowa, where he has helped start Café Rural Mission. God has helped his church of 70 reach into the counties around the area.

Rural Church – leaning in
In this session, Joel will discuss ways in which God can reveal direction for your specific church. We’ll use tools that can guide your rural congregation in seeking God’s purpose for your church in your community. 


Jon De Groot

Jon works at Dordt College, where he trains worship leaders and teams, oversees worship venues on campus, and leads worship in chapel. With nine years of experience as worship pastor, he continues to build a culture of worship in churches and on campus.

Utilizing the Psalms in contemporary worship
As “The Songbook of the Bible,” the Psalms have for centuries been featured prominently in many Christian denominations. Join us for an informal time of reading and singing the Psalms as we explore several means of using Psalms in contemporary worship. Please come prepared to share how you have featured the Psalms in your own worship context.


Rick Droog

Rick is the executive director for the Siouxland Diaconal Conference in Orange City, Iowa. He has consulted with several nonprofits and churches throughout the Midwest. Rick and his family live in Orange City, and he is currently on the leadership team of Living Water Community Church.

The missional church and the call to missional living
How can we equip ourselves to effectively minister in our churches, communities, and culture in a relevant way? In this session we will dialog about the passion and practices of missional churches. We will reflect on some keys to build community, increase discipleship, and have more active outreach and integration. We will also discuss some of the traits of being an outwardly focused Christian. What attitude should we have to be a biblical and joyous church member? 


Shirley Folkerts

Shirley is a professor at Dordt College and an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA. As a trained spiritual director, she visits with people who wish to dig deeper on their spiritual walk.

Practicing the art of lament
Grief, all kinds of disappointment, and sadness are regular parts of life, but they often lie unattended beneath pressing needs of the day and life’s busy seasons. Lament provides a deliberate pattern for us to acknowledge both the pain and the hope which lie buried. In this session we will learn the pattern of lament used by the people of Israel, discuss its role in the life of the church, and how to apply and practice it for ourselves.


Syd Hielema

Syd provides leadership for the CRC’s Discipleship and Faith Formation Ministries team. He has served as a professor of youth ministries and chaplain at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, and as theology professor at Dordt College. He has also provided leadership in discipleship, youth ministry, and faith formation efforts.

Healthy Congregation/healthy youth ministry
Most congregations have a deep desire to see their teenagers mature as strong believers, but this desire can easily be shaped by an anxiety that asks the wrong questions. Our discussion will describe the correlations between healthy youth ministry and healthy congregations and suggest strategies for taking steps shaped by the Spirit’s leading rather than by our own fears.

Loving my homosexual neighbor
Concerning homosexuality, it’s easy for argument and emotion to interfere with the horizontal dimension of our fundamental calling: to love our neighbor as ourselves. What does such love look like, and how might we put this love into action? This workshop will seek to place the intense argument and emotion in the context of the fundamental commandment to love. 


Jason Jackson

Jason’s passion for youth started when he was a student at Northwestern College. He has been in youth ministry for the last 15 years and currently serves as director of student ministries and missions at Sunnybrook Church in Sioux City.

Bridging the community: seeing your youth group behind the walls of your church building
Sometimes our unwillingness to see outside of our youth “space” (youth group time) into the world in which students live and breathe leads to an incomplete ministry. Ultimately, we are called to be salt and light in the world. How do you equip your students to step out into a world that needs their voice?


John Lee

John serves as senior pastor at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa. He has done graduate studies in Israel and served as a missionary in Latin America.

Go tell it on the mountain…and on the plain: A Reformed look at evangelism
For most Reformed churches and many Reformed individuals, sharing the Gospel is one of our highest callings and yet one of our greatest struggles. We will explore obstacles to effective evangelism as well as practical tools for “sharing the hope within us.”


Jason Lief

Jason teaches theology and youth ministry at Dordt College. He recently completed a Ph.D. in pastoral care and practical theology from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

John Calvin and spiritual formation: prayer, election, and “dealing with God”
It’s easy to neglect John Calvin when it comes to the practical issues of living the Christian life. We think of him as a theologian who explored doctrines like election and predestination—beliefs we don’t always associate with spiritual formation. In this session we will reclaim the insight of John Calvin in order to provide guidance for the practical life of faith. We will specifically discuss Calvin’s understanding of prayer and how he might help in our own prayer lives.


John MacInnis

John serves as assistant professor of music at Dordt College, where his classes include Music and Worship. John has served as organist and director of music at several churches throughout the country.

Utilizing the Psalms in contemporary worship
As “The Songbook of the Bible,” the Psalms have for centuries been featured prominently in many Christian denominations. Join us for an informal time of reading and singing the Psalms as we explore several means of using Psalms in contemporary worship. Please come prepared to share how you have featured the Psalms in your own worship context.


Jackie Smallbones

Jackie is professor of religion and Christian education at Northwestern College and a minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA. She is a certified spiritual director who leads retreats that provide training in and space to practice different spiritual disciplines.   

Reading the bible for all you’re worth
Reading the Bible has always mattered for followers of Jesus but never more urgently than in our 21st century culture. Bible reading in ways that help us encounter the Living God can be difficult. This session will give an explanation of the ancient practice of lectio divina, a reading that is focused on attending to the Word in order to experience our own encounters with God.


Justin and Ang Schuiteman

Justin and Ang have four children, two of whom came to live with them through foster care. Justin has a passion for discipleship, and Ang volunteers for Safe Families, a national movement of families giving hope to children and parents in crisis. By intentionally seeking to listen to God, they have watched him do amazing things as they opened up their home to others.

Home: Reexamining biblical hospitality
We all want to have a positive impact on people we invite into our homes, but how often have you realized that you are the ones affected the most? We will share what God has taught by opening our home to foster children, addicts, hurting people, and many others.


Jill Ver Steeg

Jill is coordinator of transformational engagement for the RCA and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jill has served as chaplain at Hope College and a pastor at Meredith Drive Church in Des Moines.

Engaging young adults
Max De Pree, former CEO of Herman Miller, states, “The first job of a leader is to define reality.” The reality is that most churches aren’t growing and they aren’t getting any younger. Nearly half of young adults (15–29) will or have drifted from faith and church as high school seniors. Together we’ll engage core commitments and bright-spot stories of churches that are effectively engaging young people so that other church leaders can join the conversation, apply insights in context, and become more effective in their engagement of young people.

Leadership: is this what I signed up for?
Am I growing as a leader? Have I reached a plateau? What causes good leaders to plateau? What if taking your next faithful step meant working on areas of weakness rather than areas of strength? What if the primary job of a leader is to create new mental models for others? Together, we’ll explore adaptive change in the life of the leader and what a leadership development pathway could look like in your context.