Workshops by New Englanders for New Englanders

Workshops: The Highlight of the GO Conference

Every New England Christian hears some great idea or the success of a strategy from somewhere in the country and immediately thinks, “That’s great, but will it work in New England?” You never have to ask that about a GO Conference workshop since they are led by folks working in a New England context. The GO Conference workshops are truly the highlight of our gathering.  Since they are led by New England leaders, you can be sure that you will be learning how to apply the philosophy and principles of our plenary sessions to your New England context. Not only will you learn, but you will connect with other New England practitioners who understand our unique landscape. You will leave each session with practical, New England-tested methods to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly and make disciples. 

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SESSION 1 (Friday 11:15am – 12:15pm):

Panel Discussion: Tearing Down Dividing Walls

In previous years the work of reconciliation was about how white-dominated churches and institutions could make room at the table for the perspectives of people of color.   Now, given the radical change in demographics of the church, the question is how can the church and Christian organizations in North America (and specifically in New England) function with sufficient imagination to see how Jesus owns the table, and that we all have seats at it.  In other words, is there enough imagination to envisage how Christian institutions can work with no one racial/ethnic group in charge (consider 1 Cor. 12 as a metaphor)? What will that look like, practically?

This workshop will help you consider these questions:
– Why is engaging in racial and ethnic reconciliation is an integral part of Christian discipleship and not just an option that would be good to consider?
– What kinds of emotional and spiritual healing are essential to the process of reconciliation across racial and ethnic boundaries.
– Do you recognize personal blind spots (i.e. privilege, victimization, spiritual blindness) that hinder your effective participation in the process of reconciliation?

For those who are interested in further discussion, facilitated small group conversations will take place during mealtimes.
(See workshop leaders for more details)

Sheila Wise Rowe
Author, Counselor, Speaker and Founder; The Rehoboth House

Liza Cagua-Koo
Assistant Director; Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston

Dorothy Greco
Photographer, writer and author

Ray Hammond
Pastor; Bethel AME Church, Jamaica Plain, MA

Soong-chan Rah
Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism; North Park Seminary, Chicago

Nicholas Rowe
Dean of Student Engagement and Associate Professor of History and Peace Studies; Gordon College

Loving the Addicted and Hurting: A Jesus-centered Response to the Opiate Crisis

Throughout New England, the opiate crisis has reached into families, communities, and churches. As those we know and love suffer from addictions, we are left wondering how to best respond. This workshop will provide practical steps, Biblical truth, and hope for recovery as well as guidance in how to express mercy and love in a helpful and Christ-like manner.

Michael Tso
Director of External Relations; His Mansion

Listen: Be Still to Be Active

The world seems to be getting louder. For every increasingly public tragedy and act of oppression and violence, there comes a volley of tweets and an onslaught of Facebook rants. But do the rants in turn simply yield more violence? Are we in a vicious cycle? How can we cut through the noise instead of just contributing to it, especially when we are often so divided in ourselves? The key is in listening; first to God, and then to each other. Not to confirm our own ideas, or to earn the right to be heard. Instead, to hear God’s heartbeat again, allow God to synchronize our heartbeats with His, and begin to truly hear and heal the broken hearts around us.

Jennifer Layte
Spiritual Director, Chaplain; The Pilgrimage

Bringing Life to your Community

The struggles of every community can be divided into five major need areas or pillars: spiritual, health, education, social services and economics. Churches tend to focus solely on the spiritual. This workshop will explore how churches can bring life to their communities by committing to strengthening at least two of the five pillars.

Archbishop Timothy Paul
President; Western Massachusetts Council of Churches

Changing the World: One Neighbor at a Time

What if Jesus meant your actual next-door neighbor when he said to “love your neighbor as yourself”? What would that look like? And what if your inability to do this was the greatest barrier to your personal spiritual development and growth of your local church? Would you want to fix it?

In this workshop, you’ll hear how Sean’s actual neighbors came to faith in Jesus through the way he lived intentionally next door to them. He’ll share how anyone who loves God and cares about others can be used by God to do the same thing. You’ll have the chance to ask questions to help eliminate your personal concerns and fears so that those who live closest to you will also have the best chance to know and follow Jesus.

Sean Sears

Pastor; Grace Church, Avon, MA
Church Planter; 521 Pastors

Panel Discussion: Catholic and Evangelical Unity

Catholic and Evangelical leaders will discuss the progress of a “New Reformation” where Christians are uniting in the Great Commission.  The panelists will include Fr. James Mallon and NE leaders from the Catholic-Evangelical dialogue and collaborative efforts in Gospel ministry.

Fr. James Mallon
Author, Episcopal Vicar for Parish Renewal & Leadership Support; Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Scott Brill
Intervarsity Campus Minister; Assumption College

Dennis Gill
President; Evangelical Network in New England

Dick Kiernan
Director; New Hampshire Alliance

SESSION 2 (Friday 4:00 – 5:00pm):

When They Won’t Come: Cultivating Christian Community Outside and Alongside the Box

If every believer is intended to be a missionary, then every church is intended to be a mission center.  Over a half century ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested that the community of Christ was to be a collection of gospel seeds scattered in the world.  The church then is at its best when we scatter and cultivate seed instead of just gathering the seed together.  This workshop will explore Paul’s strategy for reaching into new territory in Acts 16 and how a local congregation can move toward this in practice. Through the lens of the fresh expressions movement, we will also look at how different expressions of church reach into different groups of people and how we need more varied expressions for the mission of God today.

Mike Snedeker
Lead Pastor, Community Evangelical Church, Sinking Springs, PA

Keys to Cultivating Your Church’s Culture

If culture eats systems for breakfast, then knowing how to assess and shape your church’s culture is a big deal. Let’s talk about it.

David Payne

Lead Pastor; Lifesong Church, Sutton, MA

Loving Mercy in a Manner Worthy of the Call of Jesus

Mercy is for the unpopular. Mercy is for the ashamed. Mercy is for all that come at the last minute. Jesus is full of mercy; His life, death, and resurrection points us to victory and our responsibility to go, stand and speak love and mercy to all we meet.

Robert Richards

Chaplin; Springfield Rescue Mission

Making Disciples for the Common Good

When Christians gather together, we spend a lot of time discussing the doctrine of God’s Saving Grace—and rightly so!  It is the means by which we enter into a right relationship with Him, and secures our eternal destiny. However, one critical doctrine that has been neglected in the modern church the concept of Common Grace—the blessings of God to all of mankind that are not related to personal salvation. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of this neglect has been a diminished understanding of how the gospel should impact the witness of Christians in their everyday life.  For example, believers understand they have an obligation to witness to non-Christians with the message of the Gospel.  However, what is less understood is that they also have an obligation to pursue the Common Good in the locations God has placed them, day by day. The church needs to recapture the full scope it means to “Make Disciples”—not just disciples who can verbally explain the Gospel, but disciples who also live out the Gospel. In other words, we need to make disciples for the Common Good.

Chris Lake

Founder and Executive Director; Vere Institute

Dave Ripper
Lexington Campus Pastor; Grace Chapel

Becoming Whole Emotionally and Spiritually

Many of us carry angry, grief, turmoil, and self-criticism internally, while working overtime to keep it all together as we go about our day-to-day lives. As Christians, we hope to exemplify wholeness, but don’t always know how to bring every part of ourselves into the light of Christ. This experiential workshop will show you an approach to navigating your internal life, including your overwhelming thoughts and feelings, so that you can put them to work for your highest good and for the good of those you serve here in New England.

You’ll learn what to do when you feel overwhelmed and how to welcome God to be with troubling parts of your soul. You can move from anger to advocacy, from shame to joy, and your inner critic can become your champion. Join us on a journey toward wholeness that will change you from the inside out and lead to a life of joyful service to others.

Alison Cook

Counselor, Speaker, Author; Boundaries for Your Soul

Plenary Discussion Group

Are you interested in talking more about what inspired you during the plenary session? Following the plenary session, join others in a guided conversation to explore how what was said on the stage can apply to your local context. Table hosts from Emmanuel Gospel Center will lead general discussions as you unpack to principles and continue the conversation from the plenary session talks.

SESSION 3 (Saturday 11:15am – 12:15pm):

Practical Disciple Making

How can you help engage the local church by making disciples in a practical way?  This conversation will unpack some practical tips and ideas on how anyone can be a disciple maker in their local church.

Chris Geoppner
Pastor; Riverbank Church, White River Junction, VT

Doing Justice at Work

What is justice? Why is it important? What are its limitations in this fallen world? What should be our expectations about justice in this world? What is the distinction between authentic justice and “political correctness?” How have you seen or experienced injustice at work? What does doing justice look like in the everyday working world? Who can play a role in doing justice at work? Is it “just” the HR department? How, when and where can you do justice in your workplace? How long can it take to have an impact on justice in your workplace? This thought-provoking, scripture-filled workshop will help to inspire and equip participating Christ followers to GO and do justice at work, whether their workplaces are big or small, private or public, for-profit or non-profit, or governmental.

Drew Crandall
Author, Owner; Keep in Touch Marketing

Panel Discussion: A Merciful Response to Life's Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups

Jesus taught his disciples to go where God was already working, and God is opening doors in New England in the area of recovery and personal transformation. Recovery is another word for sanctification.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the pathway to peace, starting with the first step, poverty of spirit. We admit we are broken, we are powerless to change our hurts, habits and hang-ups that have affected our lives, and we acknowledge that there is a Higher Power, Jesus Christ, who can help us recover and restore our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step program and it is offered at over 30,000 churches in the U.S. and around the world.  It has a proven track record in creating a safe place for people to deal with any issue that interferes with their ability to handle life’s challenges.  There are approximately 86 Celebrate Recovery groups in churches across New England, and this workshop will give you an opportunity to learn about how it works and why it is so effective in producing authentic Christ-followers and leaders who ‘walk humbly’ and make disciples in the church and in the community.

John DePasquale
Ministry Leader of Care Programs; Walnut Hill Community Church, Bethel, CT

Peter Scalzo
Celebrate Recovery Ministry Leader; Walnut Hill Community Church, Bethel, CT

Katharine El Hayek
Connecticut State Representative for Celebrate Recovery


Synchronizing Values and Behavior: What you Value Impacts what You Do

What do you value most? Do your actions and goals flow from your values or do they betray the existence of values other than those you think you have? Honest answers to these questions form the foundation for the Christian behaviors that produce Justice, Mercy, Love and many more.

Jim Clouser
Financial Consultant; Thrivent Financial

Plenary Discussion Group

Are you interested in talking more about what inspired you during the plenary session? Following the plenary session, join others in a guided conversation to explore how what was said on the stage can apply to your local context. Table hosts from Emmanuel Gospel Center will lead general discussions as you unpack to principles and continue the conversation from the plenary session talks.