Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity

I’m really excited to be presenting a workshop on The Synaptic Gospel at “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” this May in Washington, DC, because the speaker list looks great.  Further, at least in the world of religious education, there’s a buzz going around about this confernce being a unique gathering that could be a game-changer for a sub-discipline of practical theology that is being systematically axed from seminaries and is sorely in need of some new vitality.

Here’s the conference agenda…


  • Ivy Beckwith, “Godspell, Footloose (the original) and a New Kind of Children and Youth Ministry”
  • Brian McLaren, “Christian Faith (and) the Next Generation: Why We Need this Conference”
  • John Westerhoff, “Changing Times, Changing Responses”
  • Almeda Wright, ”Personal Jesus, Public Faith: Cultivating a Generation of Young Public Theologians”


  • “Panel on Violence,” with Lisa Schirch (moderator), Brian McLaren, Almeda Wright, Melvin Bray, Ivy Beckwith and John Westerhoff
  • “On the Ground,” with Amy Dolan and Michael Novelli (co-moderators), Rebekah Lowe, Greg Bolt, Donna Jacobsen, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Catherine Maresca, and Erika Funk


  • Gerry Adam, “Once Upon a (Plastic) Cup”
  • Janell Anema, Title TBA
  • Rosemary Beales, “Godly Play: An Imaginative Approach to Religious Education”
  • Susan Burt, “Opening the World of Faith by Nurturing the Imaginative, Questioning Spirit”
  • Tony Campolo, “A Letter to My Grandchildren”
  • Shane Claiborne, Title TBA
  • Dave Csinos, “Yours, Mine, and Ours: Imagining Intercultural Ministry with Children and Youth”
  • Paul Hill, “Curious? How Faith Formation Practices Work in Your Brain”
  • Mike King, “STAY: A Theology of Space, Place and Time”
  • Dixon Kinser, “Jesus on the Autism Spectrum”
  • Ben Lowe, Title TBA
  • Patricia Lyons, “Harry Potter, God and Youth: Using Fiction to Transform Young Readers into Young Theologians”
  • Dave McNeely, “A New Kind of Sexuality: Finding a Framework”
  • Starlette McNeil, “A New Kind of Life: What Would Jesus Do about Racism?”
  • Joyce Mercer and Dori Baker, Title TBA
  • Sara Million, “Kindness, Courage, and Nourishing Children to Think for Themselves”
  • Cathy Ode, “Playing Our Way into the Kingdom”
  • Steve and Mary Park, “Transforming the Village: Creating a Compassionate Urban Village to Support Our Cities’ Children and Youth”
  • Lisa Schirch and Leymah Gbowee, “God’s Security Strategy: Peacebuilding”
  • Rebecca Seiling and Amy Gingerich, “Teaching Peace to Children”
  • Samir Selmanovic, Title TBA
  • Brandy Walker, “Teaching Kids the Third Way”
  • Jim, Joy, Luke and Jack Walls, “Let’s Say Grace”
  • Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., “To Serve this Present Age”


  • Marti Andrews and Belinda McCafferty, “Let the Children . . . Stay”
  • Julie A. Cohrs, “Creativity in a New State of Grace”
  • Todd Hobart, “Missional Youth Ministry: Joining Where God is at Work in the Community”
  • Melinda Melone, “Welcoming Rainbow Kids: Resources and Approaches for Working with Youth in the GLBTIQA Community”
  • Liz Perraud, “Family Circles: Ministry Around the Dinner Table”
  • Elsie Rempel, “Prayer Journeys with Children”
  • Christopher Rodkey, “The Synaptic Gospel: A Neurological Approach to Religious Education”
  • Suzanne Ross, “Practicing What We Teach: Managing Classrooms with Love and Mercy”
  • Linda L. Snyder, “Rhythms of Grace: Worship for Individuals and Families with Special Needs”
  • Anna Speicher and Rose Stutzman, “Sunday School that Doesn’t Have All the Answers”

WORSHIP led by Amy Butler and Bryan Moyer Suderman

4 thoughts on “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity

  1. Sometimes it’s strange how “Practical” or “Pastoral” theology is defined in the job listings: Often it’s code for “pastoral care,” pastoral psychology, evangelism, missiology, or some combination of these things, but rarely is religious education the focus. While trying to get The Synaptic Gospel published, I kept hearing from folks that publishers and consumers are looking for curriculum from religious educators, not theory and especially not theology. (One editor at the AAR said, “Husserl? And you think pastors are going to read this? “Even the Catholics don’t remember who Edith Stein is!” Then the other editor asked: “Who’s Edith Stein?”) Very few places teach it anymore, especially on the graduate level.

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