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2024 Inspired to Thrive


Morning Keynote

From the Steeple to the Street”

A fresh expression of church is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily to benefit people who are not yet church members. Fresh Expressions come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission, and making disciples; and they have the potential to become a mature expression of the church shaped by the Gospel and the enduring marks of the church and its cultural context.

The fresh expression journey: Listening, Loving, Serving, Building Community, Exploring Discipleship, Forming Church... all undergirded by prayer.


Rev. Dr. Eliseo A. Mejia

Keynote Speaker

CEO Global Missional Coaching LLC.

Rev. Dr. Eliseo A. Mejia was born in El Salvador. He is married to Cathy Mejia, a Suzuki violin teacher, and enjoys life with three beautiful children. Dr. Mejia is a church-planting leader at heart; an author, pastor, missiologist, and Director of Fresh Expressions−Expresiones Divinas. At the national level, he trains leaders to start new faith communities where people live, work, and have fun. Dr. Mejia teaches as an adjunct professor in two seminaries. This context allows him to access God's grace, which offers us gifts, God-sized goals, strengths, and skills to transform communities. His vision and passion lie in church planting, fueled by a profound love for God and a compassionate heart that serves others. Dr. Mejia has participated in training new and experienced leaders for the last 25 years in the USA and internationally.  He completed his Doctor of Ministry at Asbury Seminary.

Breakout Sessions

Jim Honig has served as Pastor of Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay, Door County, Wisconsin for the past 7 years, after serving parishes in Missouri, Florida, and Illinois. Throughout his pastoral ministry, Pr. Honig has pursued his passions around leadership and congregational development, the church’s mission in the world, and writing. He has been an active in the communities where he has served and has been a leader in congregation-based organizing.  As part of his work in the Door County community, he is a founding member and current president of the Door County Housing Partnership, a non-profit organization providing affordable home ownership opportunities for working families. Pr. Honig writes regularly for denominational worship and preaching resources (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), he blogs, and he is the author of the novel, By Paths Untrodden. Jim is married to Dr. Sheryl Honig; they have two grown sons and two resident poodles. Pr. Honig is an avid reader, a woodworker, and loves the outdoors, especially walking, biking, and kayaking.

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Lay Leadership

Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church

Rev. Jim Honig

Pastor Ike Nicholson is the pastor redeveloper for St. John the Divine Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Chicago, Illinois. A convert to the LCMS, Pastor Ike spent 27 years in revitalization ministry in another church body. In August 2022, he was installed as the pastor of St. John the Divine, which had 6 members. The parish has grown to around 30 members with over 50 people connecting in outreach ministry over 18 months. A Mission and Outreach network of three other parishes has joined with St. John the Divine to explore collaboration, mutual support, and potential partnerships. He earned a B.S. from the University of Lynchburg (Virginia) with a double major in Sociology and Religious Studies, a M.Div. from Lexington Theological Seminary (Kentucky), and a D.Min. in Leadership Development from Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, Virginia). Pastor Ike is married to Shauna Nicholson, and together they have four children and one cat, to whom he is allergic.

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St. John the Divine Lutheran Church

Rev. Dr. Ike Nicholson

Church Revitalization

“Living in grace, working with wisdom, transcending through humor.”

Karen Fischer serves Christian Family Solutions as the Director of Professional Development and Education and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Wisconsin Lutheran College, a Masters of Science in Education in Clinical Psychology from Concordia University Wisconsin and is a Doctoral Candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision at Concordia University Irvine. She is passionate about mental wellness and serves people in outpatient settings, groups, mentorship, and education. Her foundational theory works to marry the grace and truth of the gospel with understanding psychological stewardship: Her research interests include installation of hope, vocation and purpose, and the link between spiritual formation and resilience.


Mental Health

Christian Family Solutions

Karen Fischer LPC, BC-TMH

Breakout Session #1

Bounce Back: Resilience for Those Who Serve

Resilience is the idea that individuals can be built up in such a way that they will “bounce back” from difficulty and challenges. Those with higher resilience would recover better than those with lower resilience. There are many views of this concept, but the overall common themes we will discuss include three basic elements, the viewpoints that improve resilience, and some protective factors instilled through learning. We want to value and make a plan to use these skills and improve our psychological stewardship in order to serve and share the gospel. Resilience is not inherited – it is grown. No matter how resilient you may feel today, you can and will improve when pay attention and make a plan!

Breakout Session #2

Confidence in the Chaos:

The Art and Practice of Forming Congregational Leaders

No one needs to tell congregational leaders that the church is living through a time of rapid change. We are in uncharted territory where its hard to find our bearings. The art and practice of forming leaders gives pastors and congregations the confidence to navigate the turmoil so that they can focus on strong and courageous mission and ministry. This workshop offers practical guidance for the essential work of forming confident and capable congregational lay leadership. Rich with stories and and proven practices, the workshop will give participants a ready-to-use toolbox to enhance their personal and congregational effectiveness. 

Breakout Session #3

"From Opposition to Opportunity: ‘That will never work here,’ But Then it Does"

Our rapidly changing culture and the spiritual decline of our communities have left many churches fearful and unsure of their future. In this breakout session, participants will explore the transformative power of addressing resistance to change within the context of church revitalization. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of resistance to change and learn strategies for navigating this challenge effectively. Participants will discover actionable techniques for reframing opposition as an opportunity for growth and innovation within their congregations. The session will emphasize the role of leadership and collaboration in guiding congregations through periods of change and cultivating a culture of adaptability and resilience. Attendees will leave equipped to lead their churches into a future of vitality and relevance, empowered to explore how confronting change resistance in their local congregations can pave the way for revitalization and renewal.

Afternoon Panel

Financial Vitality

Too many ministries struggle to survive, much less thrive. At the same time, Americans are giving more than ever and the great wealth transfer is in full swing. What can ministries learn from the philanthropic sector that will move then from mere sustainability to vitality?

Join us for a one-hour panel discussion on fundraising featuring experts Brenda Moore, (Brenda Moore and Associates), Mike Ward (GSB Fundraising) and Sarah Gilday (Siebert Lutheran Foundation). Gain valuable insights and strategies to enhance and jumpstart your fundraising, whether you're a seasoned Lutheran leader or new to fundraising. Learn from professionals with decades of experience and engage in a Q&A session to deepen your understanding of successful fundraising practices and strategies.

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Mike Ward CFRE, M. Div.

Managing Partner

GSB Fundraising


Mike served as VP of Advancement at what is now NovusWay Ministries (4 outdoor ministry sites in the Southeast US) where he led capital campaigns, annual fund, planned giving and marketing.


Mike is now the Managing Partner of GSB where he works with congregations and church agencies and institutions like camps and social service agencies. He specializes in annual fund and capital campaigns. In November, Mike and his business partner, Mitzie Schafer also began serving as interim co-CEO's for NovusWay Ministries to lead a financial turnaround.

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Brenda Moore CFRE

President & Legacy Giving Consultant 

Brenda Moore & Associates

Brenda Moore's vocation has evolved around mission, ministry and money for 40 years. Since starting her consulting practice in 2013, Brenda has enjoyed the privilege of coaching several hundred gifted, faithful ministry and nonprofit leaders. She spent 30 years serving both small and large nonprofits, most notably as Vice President for Advancement at Gustavus Adolphus College and as Director of Development at her own alma mater, Concordia College - Moorhead. Most recently, Brenda and the Siebert Lutheran Foundation have partnered to develop a Major Gifts Coaching program for a select group of Siebert Foundation grantees who are ready to make a larger impact. Brenda serves on the Board of the Association for Christian Fundraising and is the recipient of their Virgil Anderson Award for lifetime achievement and service. She and her husband, Scott, make their home in Carver MN and love accompanying their college-age daughters as they discover their God-given life purpose.

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