Seminars at the 2024 leaders conference

Seminar Options at the 2024 Leaders' Conference

Seminars will tackle how we can be ‘good shepherds’, guiding others with care, love, and compassion and training others to do so too.

At our Leaders' Conference this year, we will be looking to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in his “I am” sayings. Three optional seminar sessions will focus on shepherding in particular contexts or to particular groups of people – suitable for anyone who has a heart for these areas.

We’re delighted to have experienced pastors and gospel workers to lead these seminars who can pass on their skills and expertise. They are designed to develop the main conference theme and go into more detail, with the chance to interact and engage with each other as we work through them together.

We are also running two seminar tracks across the conference, each three sessions long. They are focused on serving those at a particular stage of ministry, whatever kind of role they are serving in.

We hope there will be something relevant to your interests and context. We even hope that you will have a hard time deciding which to join! If that is the case, don’t worry - we will be recording each seminar (when appropriate) so you will be able to catch up with them after the conference.

Please note: seminar leaders, titles, and summaries are subject to change.

Seminar Tracks

These optional seminar tracks run over three sessions: Monday evening (at the same time as our evening gathering); Tuesday morning (during seminar session 1); and Wednesday morning (during seminar session 3).

Places on the tracks are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but to sign up you need to commit to all three.

Each session will build on the previous one and the leaders are expecting to work with the same cohort of delegates across the sessions to maximise time together. You will not only benefit from the input you receive but also the interaction and encouragement of others who are at a similar stage.

  • Brian Croft (Executive Director, Practical Shepherding) will lead a track for those with 10 years of service or more: how do you keep freshness, enthusiasm, optimism, and spiritual fervour going in the mid-years of ministry? Think, talk, and pray together about God-honouring strategies and plans to keep going for the long term.
  • Marcus Honeysett (Director, Living Leadership) will lead a track for those in the first 5 years of service to think, talk, and pray together about how the Spirit directs us to establish good patterns which last a lifetime and to avoid burnout, fallout, and wipeout.

There is no extra cost for these tracks, but we do need to plan for each beforehand, so please sign up for the tracks if they are relevant to you using the button below. Only those who have pre-booked will be able to attend.

Book your place on a track

Due to the nature of these tracks, they will not be recorded. However, the other seminar sessions will be so you need not fear missing out.

Session 1

Our first seminar session, on Tuesday morning, comes just before lunch.

Shepherding across cultures

Increasingly our churches are wonderfully diverse, often representing the diversity of the communities where they are located. But as leaders we struggle to embrace this diversity and ‘read the room’.

Girma Bishaw, a co-director for The London Project, will guide us in exploring biblical principles that can help us provide sensitive and appropriate care and protection for the flock, while also creating a conducive environment for the diverse cultures in which people interact and grow in their discipleship.

Shepherding those with addictions

Many people in church life are battling addiction – some seen, some unseen. These can vary from dangerous drugs through to food or sex addictions.

We need to understand why addictions affect so many, grapple with the pastoral challenges, and develop godly and prayerful strategies for help. Andy Constable, pastor at Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, will help us do this.

Shepherding the divided

So many of the pastoral challenges we face are about breakdown of relationships. Unity is damaged and rebuilding trust often seems too hard or even out of reach. Our pastoral care should not just be aimless, but seek forgiveness and restoration.

Director of Women’s Ministry at 20schemes, Sharon Dickens, will explore how we go about such work and what we can do when restoration seems impossible or distant.

Shepherding those facing domestic abuse

There are probably more people in our churches who suffer domestic abuse than we realise. It can go unseen for long periods of time and leave much brokenness in its wake. Often, however, we can find it hard to know how to support people wisely and well.

This seminar, led by Biblical Counselling UK’s Director of Training and Resources Helen Thorne-Allenson, will help leaders identify and walk alongside sufferers pastorally, in ways that bring true and lasting hope.

Plus, there will be opportunities to ask common questions about the nuances of support - including thinking through how churches can work well with services offering specialist provision.

Shepherding parents

75% of Christians are converted before their 18th birthday. We hear this statistic and immediately think of children’s and youth work, but we must not neglect the work of shepherding parents who have primary responsibility for their kids.

Ed Drew, Director of Faith in Kids, will help us to consider how we can carefully and wisely help them be godly parents, living for Jesus in the home Monday through Saturday.

Shepherding sufferers

So much of the Christian life is characterised by suffering. We should not be surprised at this given our theological grounding of sin and its impact upon the world and our lives and the paradigm of the cross.

Yet we secretly believe a sort of prosperity gospel and don’t know how to prepare people to suffer.

Eric Ortlund, lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Oak Hill College, will help us see the place of suffering in God’s divine providence and show how we can shepherd people to stand “for a little while longer.”

Session 2

The second seminar session follows lunch on Tuesday afternoon and can be attended by those on the optional tracks.

Cultivating the sustaining gift of ministry friendships

Friendship is a remarkable gift from a Good Shepherd who calls us friends. We are all different in the ways we relate to others, but at some level we all need to celebrate in and nurture this deep gift, both in the good it can do for us but also in the good we can do to others.

Brian Croft (Practical Shepherding) will lead a seminar to help us do so. We all need friends. And we all need to be friends.

Women's gathering: sitting at the Shepherd's feet

This special gathering for women in ministry and wives of men in ministry is a chance for women to meet and connect with others over lunch. It will also give you the opportunity to hear from Elinor Magowan and Rachel Sloan – FIEC’s Directors for Women's Ministry.

After lunch we will spend some time in God's word looking at what our priorities should be in ministry and how we are to respond to Jesus, the one who shepherds our souls.

We will share together, reflecting on themes in the conference, and you will be able to connect with other women who might be from your locality for encouragement and support.

Preaching to women

Much of our ministry (e.g. preaching or teaching in mixed groups) directly connects with women, who almost certainly make up over half of the church. How do men teach women? And how can they get better at this? What do men need to learn in order to connect, serve, and love people well?

This seminar with Andy Constable and Sharon Dickens (20schemes) will focus on preaching to women but will also explore applications that run into other areas of church life to help us connect with women in all kinds of contexts.

Responding to the ‘conversion therapy’ ban

A ‘conversion therapy’ ban is likely to be on the agenda of the new government.

Danny Webster (Director of Advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance) will set out the dangers in this policy area and suggest how churches should respond to challenge. This session will also set out good practices they can adopt to continue godly and biblical ministry whilst being as “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).

Shepherding and the session of Christ

How does Jesus’ position at the right hand of the Father shape our shepherding now? How does his continuing humanity help us? And how is our shepherding from our finiteness different?

This seminar with Paul Mallard (FIEC Director for West Midlands) and the FIEC Theology Team will explore Hebrews 4-5 and challenge us to think rightly about the person of Christ as this doctrine intersects with our work of caring for the flock.

Shepherding families in a world of sexual confusion

Church leaders can easily feel overwhelmed by the constant and rapid change in the next generation's understanding and embracing of complex sexuality.

Ed Drew (Faith in Kids) will help us consider how to understand this change in their world, and how to respond in church life.

In particular, the seminar will explore how we lead the church in knowing how to respond to sometimes very personal and difficult situations.

Finishing strong: the last years of paid ministry

A number of church leaders will be entering, or moving through, the last 10 years of paid church ministry.

Paul Kinnaird (Bankhall Mission, Liverpool) will explore how they can keep going, ensuring enthusiasm and love for the Good Shepherd does not diminish - whilst also recognising that capacity reduces and the baton needs to be passed on.

Session 3

Wednesday morning’s seminars take place just before lunch and our final gathering.

“I have other sheep”

The work of gathering others is at the heart of John 10. Jesus almost certainly refers here to drawing in Gentiles to the Jewish fold, who will share “one shepherd”. But the point remains that the Good Shepherd does not just care for those already in – he seeks to reach those outside.

The Ministry Director for A Passion for Life, Nick McQuaker, will lead a seminar to think about evangelism in the local church, and to anticipate a national mission initiative in 2026.

Kingdom shepherds

The parables of Jesus are kingdom stories: not evangelistic messages as popularly understood, but stories which answer key questions about the kingdom of Christ, including what it means to lead in this new kingdom.

This seminar, led by FIEC National Director John Stevens, explores both negatively and positively what a healthy church leadership culture looks like - using parables instead of well-rehearsed shepherding metaphors. A fresh take on a constantly important topic.

The shepherd and authority

Many leadership mistakes are about the abuse of authority: often over-reach, sometimes passivity.

How do we properly understand biblical authority and how does it relate to church life? How do our congregational government models shape and limit authority?

Martin Salter (Grace Community Church, Bedford) will lead a discussion with Ray Evans and Dan Strange on the topic, including some reflection on how Christ uses authority and how this influences our own authority.

Shepherding and mental health

All church leaders will know how prevalent mental health struggles are within the local church and the complexity they can bring in the area of caring for and protecting the flock of the Good Shepherd. Yet few of us have any training in this area.

We need to know what we can do, how we can encourage the church to help those struggling, and do so in ways that are loving, biblical, and wise.

Helen Thorne-Allenson (BCUK) will help us begin to grapple with all of these topics, conscious we can never do everything but confident that, in Christ, we can always do something to love those who struggle.

Cultivating a healthy women’s ministry - a seminar for men!

How do we create a culture where women’s ministry is not only resourced, but is appropriately valued? What are some of the fundamental mistakes church leaders make in seeking to ensure women in the church are properly shepherded? How do male leaders relate to women in ministry (whether paid or voluntary)?

Rachel Sloan and Elinor Magowan, FIEC’s Directors for Women’s Ministry, will lead this seminar, tackling these questions and more.

Preaching Job

Many of us are regularly preaching through books of the Bible. Some are more daunting than others, even though we know “all Scripture is useful.” Job is a particularly relevant book as people struggle with the topic of suffering.

Eric Ortlund, lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Oak Hill College, will give us a very basic introduction to the joys and challenges of preaching through Job.

Booking

You can find out more and book your tickets on the conference page. Prices are as follows:

  • Advance
    30 June - 29 September: £255
  • Standard
    After 29 September: £275

Bookings will close on 27 October.

Your event pass includes access to all the conference sessions, meals (excluding breakfast), and tea and coffee in the scheduled breaks.

Book your conference pass

If you're not sure about booking yet, watch the video below to hear what people said about last year's conference.

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