The Church often seems locked inside itself. It’s no wonder our rhetoric, vision, culture, and language often feel claustrophobic and unattractive. It often is—even to many inside the Church! So much of the current industry of church-life is built on the assumption that the goal is to become more attractional: how can we get more people to come to us?
But what would happen if we turned the paradigm inside out? What would it be like if we went about what we do in the church—e.g., preaching, leadership development, and community-building—for the sake of their neighbors not in the church. Simply. Truly. For the sake of Jesus Christ. In a world hungry for the real thing.
What would have to change for this inside-out church to occur? And how could we go about it? This conference—for pastors and other leaders— is a chance to explore just what this might mean and how to go about it.
We chose speakers who are exemplary listeners, not just presenters. For this conference, and for inside-out church to become more of a reality, we need to hear as much or more than we need to speak. This is a theme of the conference and reflected in the schedule and activities.
Soong-Chan Rah is a bold voice for inside-out church. This is part of his vocation as a pastor and preacher. He was the founding senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is now the Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He also serves on the boards of Sojourners and the Catalyst Leadership Center. Soong-Chan Rah is a frequent conference speaker and contributed to Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (InterVarsity Press). His books address subjects highly relevant to this conference: The New Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Christian Captivity and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church.
Ruth Lopez Turley has clear vision about the sociological factors that typically define people’s lives, especially issues of race and economic inequality that are inside but also far beyond the Church. In her position as Associate Professor of Sociology at Rice University she is deeply engaged with Houston public schools and eagerly seeks to address issues and build bridges to change that will allow students of all kinds to flourish.
Steve Hayner has spent much of his 40 years in ministry seeking to encourage inside-out church. It has been true during his years in ministry to the university (both at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, and as the President of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship), as a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, GA), and all his work on new developments in church and ministry, including his current role as President of Columbia Theological Seminary.
Love Sechrest has a passion for issues of race and reconciliation that has been vital in her work as Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is a thoughtful, provocative prophet, witnessing about God’s Kingdom in our world. Her first book, Former Jew: Paul and the Dialectics of Race, and her forthcoming book, Race Relations in the New Testament, address some of the New Testament underpinnings of the convictions she will bring to this conference.
Tod Bolsinger has served as Senior Pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, California, since 1997, having previously served at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tod speaks and consults with church, organizational, and business leadership groups through TAG Consulting, an organization dedicated to leading Churches through a journey of discovery that results in vision clarity, personal transformation and community impact. Tod is the author of two books, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives and Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy by Living Out the Faith.
Scott Cormode is a principal at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and is the Hugh De Pree Associate Professor of Leadership Development at Fuller Seminary. Previously, Scott was an Associate Professor and Dean at Claremont School of Theology and is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Functioning as a leader of leaders, Scott founded in 1998 the Academy of Religious Leadership, an organization for professors who teach leadership in seminaries, and in 2001 created the Journal of Religious Leadership, for which he also acts as editor. His articles on leadership, organization, and technology have appeared in Christian Century, Theological Education, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. His most recent book, Making Spiritual Sense: Theological Interpretation as Christian Leadership, was published by Abingdon Press in November 2006.
Mark Labberton is the founding Director of the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching at Fuller Seminary. Newly appointed to the Ogilvie Chair for Preaching at Fuller Seminary, he brings experience from over 25 years in pastoral ministry. Mark cares deeply about the call and life of the preacher and to the manifestations of the Kingdom of God in the world's most overlooked places. His books, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God's Call to Justice (IVP, 2007) and The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus (IVP, 2010) helped pave the way for The Ogilvie Institute. His writing is a clarion call for preaching that inspires servant agents of love and justice in our world.