Spring 2020 Talking Points Conference

This event has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. After consulting with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, other West Michigan local university leaders and the local health department about COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), Cornerstone University administrators decided that GRTS will cancel or reschedule all events involving over 100 people. All tickets have been refunded.

Since this conference is part of a wider grant project and given all the work that's already gone into it, our hope is to reschedule this event. However, it is unclear when that will be possible. If the conference is rescheduled, we will notify those who had registered. If you want to stay up-to-date on Talking Points events, subscribe to our mailing list.

Darrell Yoder, Director of Talking Points

How do you seek resilience in ministry as a pastor or ministry leader? What does self-care look like in this sacrificial calling, and how might the cross and our union with Christ point a way forward? On March 17, 2020, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is hosting our Spring 2020 Talking Points Conference where we will explore these and other questions about resilience, wellbeing and effectiveness in ministry.

Research shows that there are certain keys to cultivating a sustainable, sacrificial yet fulfilling ministry. Join us as we explore that research and hear from those who are walking the road themselves. If you're in pastoral or ministry leadership, the church needs you to be healthy. Take a day to explore what this might mean for you.

Get My Ticket


As part of The GRTS Fiscal Literacy Project, supported by a grant from the Lilly Foundation through the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM) Initiative, our usual registration costs have been reduced. Registration cost includes lunch and select free resources!

  • Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2020
  • Time: 8:45 a.m. – 3 p.m. (click here for detailed schedule)
  • Location: Matthews Performing Arts Center, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary


  • Early Bird Rate: $10 (through Jan. 15, 2020)
  • Regular Rate: $20
  • Student Rate: $10


Challenges to Pastoral Wellbeing and Resilience

Research on pastoral and ministry leadership portrays the pastor as a person working a demanding job that has responsibilities for which he or she feels ill-prepared. These realities often erode their well-being and lead to shortened ministries and suffering. For example:

These challenges can often feel unforgiving like waves pounding the rocks of a shoreline, hitting from different directions, repeatedly and relentlessly. Internal and external stressors, feelings of being inadequate and the weight of the role can erode pastoral well-being, leaving us to wonder, "What does well-being look like for pastors? How can a pastor or ministry leader practice self-care for sustainable, healthy ministry while serving in a calling that is inherently self-sacrificial? In what ways might the Cross show us how to find wholeness in ministry?"

GRTS invites pastors, ministry leaders and those who love them to join us as we seek to answer these important questions at our 2020 Talking Points conference. Together, we will learn what resilience in ministry looks like and how to find wholeness by way of the cross.


We are excited to bring together a roster of keynote speakers and panelists whose expertise and personal experience give them unique and important voices in this conversation. In addition to the speakers below, we will have a panel of five local pastors: Rev. Nate Moody, Pastor Byron Salguero, Dr. Rob Peterson, Pastor Becky Poor, and Pastor Nate Wagner.

Matt Bloom

Headshot of Matt BloomMatt Bloom, Ph.D., is a professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. He leads the Flourishing in Ministry and Wellbeing at Work research projects which focus on the wellbeing of helping and caring professions. Matt is passionate about finding real solutions to make work a healthy, vibrant, life-enriching experience. Matt and his team has been engaging with clergy, through various research methodologies, to understand the "rapid changes" of clergy work and how people manage and navigate these changes throughout a life in ministry. Matt is the author of the new book "Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing" released in October 2019.

Matt teaches courses on innovation and design thinking. He has worked with a variety of not-for-profit organizations, both in the United States and internationally, helping them learn about and integrate wellbeing research into their programs and initiatives.

Bob Burns

Headshot of Bob BurnsDr. Bob Burns serves as Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham, North Carolina. He has served in many varied ministry positions ranging from youth and singles ministry to worship arts and senior pastor. He has also served as an Associate Professor, Dean of Lifelong Learning, and Director of the Doctor of Ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary, as well as a Guest Faculty at Reformed Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from the University of Maryland (B.A.), Covenant Theological Seminary (M.Div), Westminster Theological Seminary (D.Min), and the University of Georgia (Ph.D.). He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of America with over forty-five years of pastoral experience.

Bob is the author of numerous books and articles. His books include "Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving" and "The Politics of Ministry: Navigating Power Dynamics and Negotiating Interests" (both with Tasha D. Chapman and Donald C. Guthrie) as well as "Recovery From Divorce," "The Adult Child of Divorce" (with Michael Brissett) and "The Fresh Start Divorce Recovery Workbook" (with Thomas Whiteman). Bob and his wife Janet have been married for 42 years and have two sons and eight grandchildren.

Ingrid Faro

Headshot of Ingrid FaroDr. Ingrid Faro serves as Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Ill. Before coming to Northern, she was the Director of Masters Programs at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill. She has an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. Her Ph.D. is in Theological Studies, with a concentration in Old Testament and Semitic Languages.

Ingrid is an international speaker at conferences and churches and writes on topics that include: navigating evil and suffering, women in the Bible, forgiveness, the goodness of God, identity in Christ, discipleship and leadership. Her forthcoming books are "Evil in Genesis" and "Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions with Your Tween." Ingrid has lived in Israel and Sweden and is a regular teacher and preacher in China.

Previously, Ingrid worked in nutrition, including as an associate professor and as an entrepreneur in health insurance. She has a married son and married daughter and is a happy grandmother.

Ingrid's heart motivation is to encourage people, help them navigate the sufferings of this world and grow in thriving relationship with God and others.

Danjuma Gibson

Headshot of Danjuma GibsonDr. Danjuma Gibson serves as associate professor of pastoral care at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is also in private practice as a psychotherapist in Grand Rapids, Mich. Prior to joining Calvin Seminary, he was the senior pastor of a church in Chicago for over 16 years and was also bi-vocational as a commercial banker during that time. His most recent book—"Frederick Douglass, A Psychobiography: Rethinking Subjectivity in the Western Experiment of Democracy" (2018)—is an investigation into the formation of Douglass' psychological and religious identity in the context of trauma and the American slavocracy. He explores questions like, How did Douglass develop a robust sense of self and agency as a human being in the context of extreme suffering?

Dr. Gibson earned his degrees from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (Ph.D.)., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A., Urban Ministry and Master of Christian Studies), DePaul University (M.B.A.) and Morehouse College (B.A.). He received his clinical training from the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago where he earned an Advanced Certificate in Psychotherapy and Religion.


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