11 Mar 2014

Ignite Winter 2014: Leadership Conference is an Opportunity for Connection, Growth


More than 50 student leaders and campus ministry workers braved the cold of the northern Midwest to travel to Cedar Lake Ministries in Cedar Lake, Ind. February 7-8 for the inaugural Campus Ministry Leadership Conference. The conference has grown out of a longstanding leadership and peer minister retreat sponsored annually in the region by a coalition of Lutheran campus ministry workers.

CMLC_4Author, speaker and thought leader Rev. Jason Pankau of Roselle, Ill. (photo, right) presented the Leadership Conference’s theme workshop, “Building a Connection Culture.”

“Since 1960,” Pankau said, “church growth statistics have been going in the wrong direction. Eighty percent of churches in America are stagnant or declining. Most churches have become ‘religious’ and forgotten what it means to live and function as a connection culture…. How much more productive could we be in the church if we created a connection culture and not just said ‘Go do the mandate!’ … if we did life together … if we loved on one another … if we did it all together?”

CMLC_16The conference has a distinctive grassroots flavor. The praise band for the event is recruited through Facebook and practices together for the first time immediately before the opening devotion (“To me, that’s one of the most exciting things about this event!” says LCMA’s Greg Koenig, who somehow manages to tote his guitar along to these events and sneak in among the student musicians. “It’s a bit of a step of faith for all of us—but the Spirit always blesses it.”). Each of event’s three devotional experiences is planned and presented by a different student group (photo, above right: the group from Kent State presents a skit for the closing devotion). An open-ended “what’s working” idea-sharing session on Saturday afternoon is also spearheaded by students.


The model for this one-day event has been refined not just over years but over decades. Planning group leader Rev. Marty Marks observed that he has been attending the retreat since his own college days at Northern Illinois University in the late ’80’s.

“Now is the time,” says Conference coordinator Greg Witto, “to open up and extend the model for this conference to groups in other regions! We believe it’s something that student and young adult groups across the country can benefit from; we want to share it and see an explosion of the kind of ‘connection culture’ that Jason talked about.”

Imagine a one-day conference in your region that brings together young adults and/or young-adult ministry workers for learning, spiritual growth, fellowship, devotion and—dare we say it?—fun, all at a surprisingly reasonable cost per person. Imagine LCMA serving as your consultant for promotion, registration and follow-up—at no cost for your first event. Is this for you? Pray about it and email LCMA at campusmission@yahoo.com!

Thanks to Deaconess Betsy Karkan for posting these great photos.

Comments are closed.