REVIEW! The 2018 Rooted Conference


Beginning in 2010, Rooted has existed to promote gospel-centered youth ministries around the world. Today, Rooted meets annually for an incredible gathering of like-minded youth workers. The Rooted website features a wonderful blog, a parents blog, a podcast, and a growing number of resources. Additionally, Rooted sponsors regional groups meeting around North America for training and fellowship. For more information about Rooted's perspective, check out Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry by Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson.

This weekend, the Next Institute was pleased to attend the 2018 Rooted Conference in Nashville, TN! We supported Covenant Theological Seminary, held book giveaways, and had 1,001 incredible conversations. Here are some of the highlights - this hopefully may encourage you to attend Rooted’s 2019 conference, October 3-5, in Chicago!

PLENARY SESSIONS - Each year’s conference features a plenary theme, with this year’s being heaven. Eight incredible teachers, including Nancy Guthrie, Dr. Robert Smith, and Jason Cook, walked us through the Bible’s focus on heaven, now and at the coming of Jesus. This serves a number of purposes:

  • As youth workers, we can OFTEN get discouraged. A focus on the victory of Jesus helps us regain perspective about our own value in Christ, regardless of our effectiveness in ministry.

  • It is easy to give into cultural pressures to preach either a hard gospel, devoid of grace, or an easy one, devoid of judgment. Preaching heaven rightly includes preaching both grace and judgment - but our students need to hear that the coming judgement of God has already been fulfilled for them in Christ.

  • A theme for Rooted for a number of years has been resiliency. Students need to develop a foundation capable of sustaining them when they face the sufferings of this world (a foundation shallow moralism and deism fail to provide). Teaching about the realities of heaven, including our ability to grieve (1 Thess. 4) because of it, is a key aspect of this foundation.

In addition, the conference offered over 20 workshops on topic ranging from youth culture to technology to counseling to models of ministry. Workshop memories for us this year include:

  • A workshop by David Thomas discussed the gospel and the physiological and psychological development of boys. Thomas’ book Wild Things: The Art of Raising Boys is now on our must-read list. Thomas discussed how the specific brain development of middle-school aged boys (11-13) limits their ability to comprehend auditory information and discuss it, a fact that should cause youth workers who lecture to them and then provide questions for discussion to consider other methods of teaching including hands-on projects and visual aids.

  • One workshop featured a dialogue between the founder of Rooted, Cameron Cole, and a missiologist, discussing the similarities between upper/upper-middle class white cultures and asian-American cultures. These similarities include high-pressure academic environments meant to establish/maintain financial/lifestyle status, and the presence of honor-shame dynamics (common in Asian households, but increasingly present as a result of social media affecting white students as well).

  • A workshop hosted by a Christian counselor specializing in adolescents helped train youth workers in how to better care for traumatized students. By learning various techniques for grounding students in reality (such as controlled breathing and focusing exercises), youth workers learned how to help students remain within their ‘window of tolerance’ of stimuli, which allows them to rationally consider what aspects of their situation are true (including and especially their identity in Christ) and what are lies.

With music by Indelible Grace, getting to enjoy the tastes of Nashville, and fellowshipping with new friends and old, the Rooted conference remains a blessing the Next Institute is excited to attend every year. See you in Chicago!

ReviewsStephen Yates