CIOS Funding 'Next Big Idea' Conference at Baylor in February 2009

July 15, 2008

by Vicki Marsh-Kabat, Baylor University School of Social Wrok, (254) 710-4417

A $50,000 donation from the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation will underwrite a national conference on "The Next Big Idea," to be held Feb. 9-11, 2009, at Baylor University.

Jointly sponsored by the Baylor School of Social Work, Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the Leadership Network, which fosters church innovation and growth through strategies, programs, tools and resources, the conference will bridge the worlds of academic research and congregational community ministries.

"When I read a report on the research that Diana Garland had done of the impact of volunteerism on faith development, I thought I had discovered gold," said Eric Swanson, Externally Focused Leadership Community Director and co-author with Rick Rusaw of The Externally Focused Church and Living a Life on Loan. "I told her, 'We in the church desperately need this information.'"

Plenary speakers for the conference include:
• Kay Warren, author and international activist for the global HIV/AIDS crisis,
• Lynne Hybels, co-founder with husband, Bill, of Willow Creek Community Church,
• Darrell Guder, dean of academic affairs at Princeton Theological Seminary,
• Rick McKinley, founding pastor of Imago Dei Community, an emergent church in Portland, Ore., and,
• Swanson and Rusaw from the externally focused church movement.

"Missions as we once understood it is not the approach that works in today's post-postmodern church," said Dr. Diana Garland, dean of the Baylor School of Social Work and a leading social scientist in the study of faith and its impact on families and communities. "What engages families and nurtures their spiritual maturity - for children, youth and the elderly? The answer is opportunities to live their faith through service together in meaningful community ministries. That's where the new focus should be."

In addition to the five plenary speakers, the conference will include two worship services and 18 workshops on topics such as addressing poverty at home and globally, caring for vulnerable children, reading the Bible with an external focus, how to make small groups vibrant, community transformation one step at a time, and others.

Helping congregations transform their communities as part of their Christian witness has been a long-term passion for Paul and Shirley Piper and the Piper family, who founded the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation.

"We are grateful to the Pipers for their generosity and their heart for strengthening congregational community ministries," said Dr. David Garland, dean of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. "They understand that we must be preparing a new generation of leaders to 'do church' in the ways that can be most effective in transforming lives and communities."

For more information about the conference, visit our web site at

Contacts: Diana Garland, 254-710-6223, and David Garland, 254-710-6080.

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