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The Colossian Forum offers free resources to help you transform polarizing cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness.

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Plenary & Workshop Descriptions

Plenary Sessions

Opening Session | Hoping for and Fearing the Right Things

Michael Gulker and Rob Barrett   
Our culture and our churches are shot through with fear. As Christians, our ability to give “a reason for the hope that is in us” (1. Pet. 3:15) is sorely being challenged.  How does the gospel resituate both our fears and our hopes in ways that allow us to witness to the beauty of Christ? What practices might we take up along the way to help us embody that beauty?

Plenary #1 | Tough Conversations:  A Report from the Front Lines

Richard Mouw   
Serious conflict in the Christian community can give us the gift of a “teaching moment.” How do we take advantage of that gift? There are some guidelines that we can follow as we struggle to be teachers–and learners.

Plenary # 2 | Treading Carefully to Engage Difficult Social Issues: A Reflection from Kenya

Mwenda Ntarangwi    
A leader of an evangelical alliance mobilizes Christians to boycott a national museum exhibit. The Catholic Church asks members not to be vaccinated. And a survey on leadership identifies pastors as the most trusted leaders in their communities. This plenary explores these related issues facing Christians in Kenya and offers insights into the ways church leaders engage with them to bring the hope of Christ to an ever-changing context.

Closing Session and Commission | Holy Noticing

Jenell Paris
As we conclude this conference, what observations can we make in praise of God’s goodness, in lament for our current struggles, and in hope for what is to come?

Workshop Descriptions by Presenter

James Calvin Davis | Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church
This workshop will explore an understanding of the idea that goes beyond resigned tolerance. Together, we will consider the virtues that contribute to forbearance, as well as how forbearance reshapes other important Christian commitments, like the defense of truth, the pursuit of justice, and our public witness to the faith.

Chris DeVos and Cindy Warner Baker | Practicing The Colossian Way
Participants will experience one of the ten sessions of The Colossian Way group process, moving through the five phases of Christian practice that makes up The Colossian Way. The session will end with a debrief of the experience.

Chris DeVos | Basic Components of the Colossian Way Framework
This workshop will explore the conceptual framework and practical components of The Colossian Way as a Christian Practice. 

The Colossian Way Leaders in Discussion
This workshop offers a panel discussion of five Colossian Way leaders.  The discussion will center on the experiences of leaders and their reflections on the challenges and benefits of The Colossian Way.

Rebecca DeYoung | What are you Guarding? Lessons on Anger and its Antidotes from the Christian Tradition
We live in a world full of frustrating people who dishonor and disagree with us and we face oppressive systems that deny people the dignity they deserve.  How should Christians respond to persistent threats to their own and others’ wellbeing when they feel “fed up” with it all?  Anger is an easy defense when our fears are triggered and our hopes are under siege. How do we untangle our rationalizations from real justice-seeking? What virtues, practices, and disciplines help us deal with our anger at things that aren’t right and contribute constructively to setting things right? This workshop will trace divisions in the Christian virtue tradition about how to deal well with anger, and glean lessons for good practice from both sides.

Joe Liechty and Philip Thomas | Expanding The Colossian Way in Faith Communities
For many of us, The Colossian Way has been a strikingly different way to approach difficult issues, and it leaves us hungering for more. The Colossian Way can be innovatively structured for group or congregational conversations and decision-making processes. Joe and Phil will introduce two of them–the World Cafe and Open Space Technology. Participants will learn by doing, and no prior Colossian Way experience is required.

Jenell Paris | Bringing The Colossian Way Home
How can the rich values and ideals of The Colossian Way translate into your actual daily, complicated context? In this workshop, participants will prepare themselves to re-enter their home environments by developing personalized resources.

Parisa Parsa | On Fire, but Not Consumed: Practices for Engaging Tough Conversations
The Holy Spirit invites us to deepen our love of neighbor by engaging in the challenging work of naming and working with our differences. In this interactive session, we will explore some practices for standing in the heat of conflict without being consumed, and even coming through it more alive in faith.

Trisha Taylor | Creating Containers for Conversation
In this workshop, we will start from the assumption that shaping conversation is an essential leadership skill that anyone can learn. We will explore techniques for structuring difficult conversations so that they are safe and productive. We will also experience an example of a structured conversation that we can modify to use in our contexts.