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Taking Your Church to College: Strengthening Congregational Life through Liberal Arts-Style Learning

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and the Calvin Alumni Office invite you to come to Calvin College for a one-day exploration of how liberal arts-style learning can strengthen congregational life today, with wisdom from insightful professors in 9 different disciplines and gleanings from 30 grant-funded congregational renewal projects, culminating in an inspiring worship service in the Calvin Chapel.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Calvin College Chapel, Grand Rapids, MI

The event is free and walk-up registration is available on June 22 starting at 12:45 PM at the Calvin College Chapel.

Schedule for the Day


12:45-1:15 p.m.

Calvin College Chapel 

Welcome and Plenary

1:15–1:45 p.m.

Calvin College Chapel, Sanctuary

livestream_purple Strengthening Congregational Life through Liberal Arts-Style Learning 

John D. Witvliet, Director of Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Learning Across the Disciplines

2:00–3:00 p.m. Session A

3:15–4:15 p.m. Session B

Sessions led by Calvin College faculty. Choose two:

1. Promoting the Health of Urban-Dwelling Adults and Children: A Nursing Professor’s Vision for the Church in Community
Hiemenga Hall, 318

The session will focus on discussing some of the programs designed by Calvin College Department of Nursing Professors to address the health needs identified by the residents in partnering neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. One of the programs, Women’s Health Promotion Project is an educational intervention on promoting female reproductive knowledge and healthy lifestyles such as balanced nutrition, exercise, and weight management. Calvin College HEALTH Camp initiative is another health promotion program designed to promote the culture of health and increase interest in the health professions among young girls aged 9 to 15 years from low socio-economic and diverse racial backgrounds in Grand Rapids.

Adejoke Bolanle Ayoola

2. Mapping and Visualizing Your Congregation and its Community: A Geography Professor’s View of Churches in Their Geographical Context
Hiemenga Hall, 316

Whether a congregation is a regional commuter church or a neighborhood parish, whether it is located in a struggling region or a booming exurb, it can benefit from a better understanding of both its local community and the geographic footprint of its ministries. In this workshop, we will explore different mapping and visualization techniques to better understand our communities, our congregations, and relationships between them. Some of these techniques involve nothing more than pencil and paper while others involve computer programs and online resources.

Mark Bjelland

3. Faithful Citizenship in a Pluralistic World: A Political Science Professor’s Call to Global Awareness and Engagement
Hiemenga Hall, 333

Faithful discipleship engenders good citizenship. But many Christians wonder about their place in a public square that seems to be more diverse and perhaps hostile toward faith-based perspectives. How do citizens of the city of God inhabit the contested spaces of the earthly city? More specifically, how does worship form us for faithful citizenship without becoming politicized? This workshop will focus on how worship and other aspects of church life can shape us as citizens in a pluralistic and increasingly polarized world.

Kevin R. den Dulk

livestream_purple 4. Shiny, Happy People: The Vice of Vainglory, the Church, and You: A Philosophy Professor’s Invitation to Christian Virtue
Calvin College Chapel, Sanctuary 

Work in Christian ministry and leadership often brings a struggle with image, reputation, and audience-pleasing. In this workshop, we’ll learn about the vice of vainglory—both the patterns of its temptation to show off a false self and time-tested spiritual disciplines of resistance to this vice. In a world captivated with selfies and social media, I’ll explore virtuous practices that can help Christians handle the limelight well and show appreciation for each other in ways that glorify God.

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

5. How Musical Style Affects Meaning: A Music Professor’s Insights on How Music Forms Us
Hekman Library Meeter Center Lecture Hall

In this interactive workshop, we’ll listen to ten versions of one of the most recorded songs of all time: “Over the Rainbow.” We’ll hear the meaning change depending on who performs it and how. In just one hour, you’ll learn new language and tools for interpreting musical style and performance—key factors that shape how music is approached at your church.

David Fuentes

6. Faith Formation from Birth to Age 20: A Psychology Professor’s Insights for Strengthening Congregational Ministry
Hiemenga Hall, 337

What are the most important things to know when working with kids ages 0–2, 3–6, 7–11, early adolescents, and late adolescents? This fast-paced session is a (really, really) condensed version of a course required for Calvin students minoring in Youth Ministry—without the homework. Helpful for parents, teachers, mentors and anyone who cares about the faith formation of the next generation.

Marjorie Lindner Gunnoe

7. Your Brain on Arts: An Art Professor’s Insights on What Brain Science Is Telling Us About Creativity, Imagination and Congregational Life
Calvin College Chapel, Choir Room (lower level, 214)

Why are the arts and creativity so essential to deep learning? This workshop will explore recent knowledge in brain science about how the arts affect our learning, our listening, our ability to understand and our ability to problem solve. What could this information mean for worship and our worship services? For community engagement and for meeting the stranger in our midst. Come prepared to make new connections.

Jo-Ann P. VanReeuwyk

8. The Dramatic Story of the National Baptist Hymnal: A History Professor Shows How Historical Case Studies Can Help Us Gain Perspective and Rethink Ministry
Hiemenga Hall, 320

In the late 19th century, African American Baptists had organized the National Baptist Convention as a means to facilitate foreign missions, home missions, and higher education. Out of the home missions agenda, came forth a publishing concern that would be called the National Baptist Publishing Board led by Richard Henry Boyd. Boyd’s vision was to produce Sunday school literature and a hymnal specifically for African American Baptists. When the first edition of the National Baptist Hymnal appeared in 1906 the hymns reflected the heritage of English hymnody as there were no Spirituals or other Public Domain songs included. This workshop explores the context of this hymnal, and possible reasons why it is a product of English hymnody.

Eric M. Washington

9. When a Picture is Worth 1000 Words: A Sociology Professor Explores Accessible, Groundbreaking Methods for Evaluating Congregational Renewal Projects
Hiemenga Hall, 336

Is your vital worship project working? Is it making a difference in the life of your congregation? Is there visible evidence of the intended program outcomes in members’ lives? This workshop will train you in the use of photographs to evaluate the effectiveness of vital worship projects and other congregational programs. Participants should bring a camera-equipped mobile device or digital camera for this hands-on session.

Roman R. Williams

Learning from Worshiping Communities

4:30–6:30 p.m.

Prince Conference Center, Great Hall

Join this high-energy poster session featuring the year-long, worship-related projects and learning funded by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship through their Vital Worship Grants Program. Each grant project director will be ‘hosting’ the grant poster and engaging you in conversation and learning around the project. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres served as a light supper.

Worshiping Together

7:00–8:30 p.m.

livestream_purple Calvin College Chapel, Sanctuary 

Evening worship will feature a choir led by James Abbington of Candler School of Theology, with Emmett Price of Northeastern University, and a Scripture arts group led by Calvin Theological Seminary M.Div. student Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence.

livestream_purple Livestream available at