Conference Topics

Conference Topics

Dr. Donald S. Whitney (bio)
 

While you are not limited to these suggestions, here are the kinds of conferences Don most frequently presents.

Don is typically invited to speak Friday night through Sunday morning. Usually this event consists of a Friday night and Saturday morning component, then a Sunday component that may or may not be related to the theme of Friday and Saturday. For example, he may speak on spiritual disciplines at a Friday/Saturday church conference, and then preach on an unrelated theme Sunday morning. Occasionally he’ll be invited to a meeting devoted to the same theme for the entire three days. And of course, sometimes he’s invited to speak only on Sunday, and sometimes to a weekday event.

Each of what follows is flexible in terms of length and content. In other words, there may be some settings in which you may be able to schedule only an hour for material Don normally presents in an hour-and-a-half. And there may be some material you want Don to include instead of or in addition to what’s listed here. He will be happy to discuss this with you

Spiritual Disciplines (or “Biblical Spiritual Disciplines for Real People” conference)
The subtitle of this conference can also be “Developing the simple, Biblical means God has given to every Christian for pursuing intimacy with and conformity to Christ.” The heart of this basic conference relates to the two most important personal spiritual disciplines, Bible intake and prayer. The first session (usually on Friday night) is on Praying the Bible. The next part (typically on Saturday morning) is on Meditation on Scripture. Then on Sunday morning Don often speaks to one or several of the Bible study classes and preaches in the worship service. Sometimes the Sunday material will be related to the theme of spiritual disciplines, but not often, since most Sunday attendees were not present on Friday and Saturday. We can discuss what you would prefer. Here’s a typical schedule:

  • Friday night, 7:00 to 9:00
    • 1:10 Praying the Bible, Part 1 (teaching)
    • :10 Break
    • :40 Praying the Bible, Part 2 (praying, testimonies, conclusion)
    • NOTE: Some leaders, when promoting this conference, prefer to call these two sessions, “Turning the Words of Scripture into the Wings of Your Prayers: The Simple, Permanent Cure to Boring Repetition in Prayer,” Parts 1 and 2.
  • Saturday morning, 8:30 or 9:00 to 12:00
    • 1:10 The Biblical Basis of Meditation on Scripture
    • :15 Break
    • 1:10 Methods of Meditation on Scripture, Part 1
    • :15 Break
    • :50 Methods of Meditation on Scripture, Part 2
    • NOTE: Some leaders, when promoting this conference, prefer to call these three sessions, (1) “Meditation on Scripture: Part 1, the Biblical Means of Turning Readers of the Word into Doers of the Word,” (2) “Meditation on Scripture: Part 2, Methods,” and (3) “Meditation on Scripture: Part 3, Methods.”
  • Sunday morning*
    • :50 Bible study (may or may not be related to Spiritual Disciplines—let’s talk)
    • :50 Sermon (may or may not be related to Spiritual Disciplines—let’s talk)*Please give Don as much time as possible in the class and/or worship service.

When you order books for this conference, in addition to his other books you should secure a disproportionally higher number of Don’s Praying the Bible and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life with a secondary emphasis on the Study Guide to Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Simplify Your Spiritual Life. We recommend approximately one-third to one-half as many copies of the Study Guide as Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

Click here to see the equipment and/or materials needed for this conference.

Click here to print handouts for this conference.


Spiritual Disciplines II (or “Biblical Spiritual Disciplines for Real People” conference, part 2)
This is an advanced conference for those who have already held a conference on the spiritual disciplines or who have the time to extend the length of the basic conference. A brief review of Praying Through Scripture and Meditation on Scripture is often in order (not only as a refresher, but to introduce these disciplines to those who didn’t attend the previous conference). The focus of this presentation is on disciplines such as Silence & Solitude, Fasting, Journaling, and Learning. Other possibilities exist, such as a Q&A session on the Spiritual Disciplines or Christian living, the practice of the Lord’s Day, etc. The subject and order of these suggested sessions is very flexible.

  • Friday night, 7:00 to 9:00
    • 1:00 Praying Through Scripture (review)
    • :10 Break
    • :50 Meditation on Scripture (review)
  • Saturday morning, 8:30 or 9:00 to 12:00
    • 1:00 The Discipline of Journaling
    • :15 Break
    • 1:00 The Discipline of Fasting
    • :15 Break
    • 1:20 The Disciplines of Silence & Solitude
  • Sunday morning*
    • :50 Bible study (perhaps the Discipline of Learning—let’s talk)
    • :50 Sermon (may or may not be related to Spiritual Disciplines—let’s talk)

*Please give Don as much time as possible in the class and/or worship service.

When you order books for this conference, in addition to his other books you should secure a disproportionally higher number of Don’s Praying the Bible and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. With a secondary emphasis on the Study Guide to Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Simplify Your Spiritual Life. We recommend approximately one-third as many copies of the Study Guide as Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

Click here to see the equipment and/or materials needed for this conference.
Click here to print handouts for this conference.


Worship

In the work of reforming a local church, no area is more important than reformation in worship. This conference helps to build the Biblical basis for and provides practical steps to reforming congregational worship. The teaching is suitable for the entire church body, but it also works well in a small group setting such as a retreat for the pastoral staff, church leadership, and/or the worship leadership team.

This conference is built upon two major principles. First, worship is focusing on and responding to God. Biblical worship is, of course, the worship of God. Therefore everything in the worship service should be focused on God. And because of the greatness of the One focused upon, however much that we focus upon Him, to that degree we will respond in worship. Second, worship is to be done in Spirit and truth. While most true believers have a general idea of what it means to worship in Spirit, few have a clear grasp of what it means to worship in truth. The failure to measure worship by this standard, Don believes, has led to most church conflicts over worship. Don teaches that worship should be according to the truth of Scripture.

There is a great deal of flexibility in the total number of sessions of this conference.

  • Session 1, 1:00 Worship is Focusing On and Responding to God
  • Session 2, 1:00 Worship is Expected in Spirit and Truth
  • Session 3, 1:00 Conforming Congregational Worship to These Standards
  • Session 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. Conforming Congregational Worship to These Standards (continued)
  • Other possible sessions include: “Why Worship with the Church?” (also works in Sunday morning Bible study), “Why Preaching Should Be Central in Worship” (an exposition also appropriate for the Sunday morning worship service), “Rediscovering the Biblical Practice of Using Psalms in Worship” (two hours), and “Q&A on Worship.”

Click here to print handouts for this conference in .pdf format.

Prayer
While a significant part of the “Spiritual Disciplines” conferences is on prayer, sometimes Don is asked to address the subject of prayer exclusively. The foundation of this conference is also Praying the Bible, but all the rest of this meeting is devoted to teaching on and practicing prayer. If a conference/retreat on prayer is longer than the one suggested below, even more time can be devoted to individual and group prayer.

  • Friday night, 7:00 to 9:00
    • 1:10 Praying the Bible, Part 1 (teaching)
    • :10 Break
    • :40 Praying the Bible, Part 2 (praying, testimonies, conclusion)
    • NOTE: Some leaders, when promoting this conference, prefer to call these two sessions, “Turning the Words of Scripture into the Wings of Your Prayers: The Simple, Permanent Cure to Boring Repetition in Prayer”, Parts 1 and 2.
  • Saturday morning, 8:30 or 9:00 to 12:00
    • :20 More testimonies about praying through Bible; guided prayer time
    • :50 Why Should God Answer Your Prayers? (Thesis—Bible prayers usually contain reasons why God should answer. We should give these same Biblical reasons when we pray. Most of the first session is devoted to the right and wrong way to “claim promises.”)
    • :15 Break
    • :50 Why Should God Answer Your Prayers? Part 2
    • :15 Prayer
    • :45 The Motive Needed for Answered Prayer (it’s “the glory of God,” Jn. 14:13, etc.)
    • :10 Break
    • :15 Prayer/Q&A
  • Sunday morning*
    • :50 Bible study (This may or may not be related to prayer—let’s talk. One possibility is “Why Pray with the Church?” from Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church.)
    • :50 Sermon (This may or may not be related to prayer—let’s talk. One possibility is “What the Hypocrite Will Not Do” from Luke 18:1-14. The thesis is that a hypocrite can do almost everything a true Christian does outwardly, but has no appetite for persistent, humble, private prayer.)*Please give Don as much time as possible in the class and/or worship service.

Click here to print handouts for this conference.

Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church (or “Biblical Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church” or “Life Together in the Local Church” conference)
While most of the material presented in the “Spiritual Disciplines” conferences is about the personal spiritual disciplines, this conference is about the interpersonal, or corporate, i.e., congregational spiritual disciplines. These are the disciplines we practice together in the local church. Taken from Don’s Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church book, the following subjects might be helpful in your context:

  1. Why Go to Church?
  2. Why Seek Baptism in the Church?
  3. Why Join a Church? (Click to read) (This article is one of the few things in print demonstrating the New Testament evidence for the practice of church membership. It is useful for the Bible study hour on Sunday morning.)
  4. Why Listen to Preaching in the Church? (An exposition that is appropriate for the Sunday morning worship service)
  5. Why Worship with the Church?
  6. Why Witness with the Church?
  7. Why Serve in the Church?
  8. Why Give to the Church?
  9. Why Attend the Ordinances of the Church?
  10. Why Fellowship with the Church?
  11. Why Pray with the Church?
  12. Why Learn in the Church? (Very good for the Bible study hour on Sunday morning)
  13. Why Research the Church? (Perhaps better titled, “How to Recognize a Good Church,” this subject trains people in our mobile society how to find a good church when they move. It is also useful for a new members’ class.)

Most of these sessions require at least an hour. Some, especially if discussion is desired, are most profitable when given either two sessions or one hour-and-a-half session. These would include the chapters on church membership, worship, fellowship, and recognizing a good church.

Remember when selecting the material you want Don to present, that in a Friday night/Saturday morning conference, your most dedicated people are the ones most likely to attend. That means, for example, that the people already attending your weeknight prayer meeting would also be the ones most likely to be present to hear “Why Pray with the Church?” if you were to choose that topic for a Friday night/Saturday morning session.

When you order books for this conference, in addition to his other books you should secure a disproportionally higher number of Don’s Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church.

Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health
This is based upon Don’s Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health book. As you can see from the book’s table of contents below, this spiritual diagnostic conference is based on qualitative, not quantitative standards. This conference is a good “spiritual checkup” for believers. We can discuss which of the following subjects would be most helpful in your context:

  1. Do You Thirst for God? (click to read online)
  2. Are You Governed Increasingly by God’s Word?
  3. Are You More Loving?
  4. Are You More Sensitive to God’s Presence?
  5. Do You Have a Growing Concern for the Spiritual and Temporal Needs of Others?
  6. Do You Delight in the Bride of Christ?
  7. Are the Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life Increasingly Important to You?
  8. Do You Still Grieve Over Sin?
  9. Are You a Quicker Forgiver?
  10. Do You Yearn for Heaven and to Be With Jesus?

Don recommends starting the conference with the material from the first chapter and ending—perhaps on Sunday morning—with the last chapter. Note, however, that the material from the last chapter, while filled with Scripture, is more of a topical message than an exposition of one text (the latter being what Don normally prefers to do). Don also recommends the material on forgiveness for the Sunday morning Bible class, if he is to speak then. This is built on the assumption that, if classes are combined, there would be a greater number of people present needing to seek or grant forgiveness from one another than on Friday night or Saturday.

Please allow about 50 (fifty) minutes per session, including the Sunday morning message.

This conference normally does not require PowerPoint capability.

When you order books for this conference, in addition to his other books you should secure a disproportionally higher number of Don’s Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.

Responding Biblically to the Increasing Pace and Complexity of Life
The title of this conference speaks for itself. Never in history has the pace and complexity of life accelerated as quickly as now. Virtually everyone feels overloaded. Moreover, people expect their load to continually increase and they feel helpless to do much about it. This conference focuses on some of the Lord’s timeless antidotes to these kinds of pressures, specifically the refreshing observance of the Lord’s Day, the riches of Christian community, and the simplicity of loving Christ. A fellowship/theological discussion (see the paragraph below) is ideal in this context.

  • Friday night, 7:00 to 9:15, “The Refreshing Observance of the Lord’s Day”
    • :50 Rest from Your Work and Seek Your God
    • :10 Break
    • 1:15 Celebrate the Lord’s Day (with emphasis on detailed—and refreshing—practical application)
  • Saturday morning, 9:00 – 12:00
    • :60 Meeting Together: Where the Individual Believer Experiences the Riches of Christian Community, Part 1
    • :15 Break
    • :50 Meeting Together, Part 2 (with emphasis on specific practical applications)
    • :15 Break
    • :40 Meeting Together, Part 3 (with emphasis on specific practical applications)
  • Sunday morning*
    • :50 Bible study (This may or may not be related to the conference theme.)
    • :50 Sermon (This may or may not be related to the conference theme—let’s talk. If you wanted it to coordinate with the conference theme, then the message would be an exposition of 2 Cor. 11:3, “A Pure and Simple Love.”)*Please give Don as much time as possible in the class and/or worship service.

When you order books for this conference, in addition to his other books you should secure a disproportionally higher number of Don’s Simplify Your Spiritual Life.

Click here to print handouts for this conference.

Fellowship/Theological Discussion
This is most often one part of another kind of conference and can fit anywhere in the schedule, perhaps most easily on a Saturday night or in a Sunday morning Bible class.

Generally speaking, fellowship involves talking about God and the things of God, and we tend to have this rich experience far less than we think. While we organize for socializing, rarely do we organize for fellowship in the church; we simply assume it will happen. Yet every believer has questions about the Bible, Christian living, sermons he’s heard, books he’s read, etc. When do we structure a time for them to ask these important questions?

After teaching briefly on the nature and value of New Testament koinonia, Don opens the floor for questions about the other teaching by Don at the conference, or questions about any other subject related to the Bible or Christian living. Don led such discussions regularly in the churches he pastored. When he has led them in other churches, he has commonly found that people will eagerly ask questions for hours. This sort of session can be built into a conference schedule, or an ad hoc meeting at another time during the weekend, or a substitute for the Sunday morning Bible study hour, or an after church gathering. Besides being good for adults, these discussions are also great for students’ and singles’ groups.

For a more detailed explanation of a Fellowship/Theological Discussion meeting in a local church, see pages 160-161 in Don’s Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church.

Church Discipline
This is a conference on the Biblical teaching of church discipline, primarily from Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5 (although many other passages are consulted). Most churches have a section in their constitution on discipline, but few people in those churches are even aware that it’s there, much less know how to practice it. Those churches are weaker as a result of neglecting this Biblical command, and they miss the blessings the Lord gives through it.

This conference can be an introduction of church discipline to the entire church or an intensive training for the staff and/or other church leadership prior to their presenting the subject to the church. This can fit easily into a Friday night/Saturday morning format or an all-day Saturday format.

  • Session 1, :45 The Types (formative and corrective) and Purposes of Church Discipline
  • Session 2, 1:15 The Command and Promise of Jesus About Church Discipline (Matthew 18)
  • Session 3, 1:15 The Practice of Church Discipline in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5)
  • Session 4, 1:00 The Timing and Dangers of and Barriers to Church Discipline
  • Session 5, 1:00 Q&A Regarding Church Discipline; Legal Issues; Resources

Home Evangelism meetings
This is a means of talking about the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with lost people who are interested in the gospel and have questions. While Don does not agree with the common usage of the term “seeker” today, he does believe most nonChristians have questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity. These kinds of meetings—in homes, restaurants, and businesses—provide an opportunity for the unconverted to ask their questions on their turf. An overview of the Bible (including an explanation of the Gospel) is given as a platform for questions, then the guests are invited to ask all the sincere questions they have.

One approach is to have such meetings Friday and Saturday (and occasionally Sunday night) with preaching on Sunday morning (to which the guests from all the weekend meetings are invited). These meetings can be as brief as a lunch hour or as long as an evening in a home. They can be held in very small group settings or with large gatherings, as with students or singles.

An entire brochure on this subject is available by clicking here (in .pdf format). This brochure can be downloaded, adapted to your church, printed, and given to your church members as a tool for them to use when inviting family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to such a meeting. This large Microsoft Word file is the front and back of a two-page, tri-fold publication. Consider printing it on high quality paper.

Be aware that many church members prefer to meet Don or hear him preach/teach before inviting someone to a home evangelism meeting in which Don is speaking. Otherwise their unfamiliarity with his personality, speaking style, etc., may make them hesitant to invite those to whom they have been witnessing. Therefore part of the overall strategy might include bringing Don in for a different event some weeks or months before the home evangelism meetings, or simply inviting him to preach/teach some Sunday, and building from that experience.

Don’s books—Don can always present material from any of his books. (In fact, much of what is mentioned above is found in part or in whole from his books.) So if you scan his books and determine that material from one or more of them would be useful in your situation, feel free to suggest a customized collection of them. On the Books page of the website you can find the table of contents for, as well as a sample chapter from, each of Don books.

Ministers’ conference—Not only does Don have the privilege of teaching ministers at the seminary, but he also often has the opportunity to speak to ministers in conferences of various types. Some of these are annual or monthly events; others are special meetings organized to coincide with Don being in town to speak at church meetings. Here are some possibilities:

  • Devoted to Disciplines and Doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16)
  • An Example of a Biblical Ministry (Acts 20:17-38)
  • The Means to Church Revival (Survey of Pastoral Epistles)
  • The Rehoboam Syndrome (1 Kin. 12:1-19)
  • Intro to Church Discipline (from 3 to 5 sessions)
  • Mysticism’s Invasion of Evangelical Spirituality
  • The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister . . . And How to Avoid It (1 Tim. 4:16)
  • Should We Have Christian Heroes? (Heb. 13:7)
  • The Call of God to Preach the Gospel
  • Worship (multiple sessions)
  • The Biblical Means of Seeing the Spiritually Dead Come to Life (Ezek. 37:1-14)

General Bible preaching—These are general opportunities for the expository preaching of God’s Word, such as Sunday pulpit supply, evangelistic meetings, Bible conferences, or simply those occasions when Don is invited to “just come and preach.” You can hear examples of Don’s preaching via the Audio Sermons button.

Other—This list does not contain the only subjects Don has addressed or is willing to address in church meetings or conferences. We would be happy to talk with you about other possibilities for your situation.

Don’t forget the “What equipment, materials, etc., do you want us to have?” section of the FAQs about inviting Don to your event page.

If you are hosting a conference, you’ll also want to read the article, Ten Questions to Ask to Treat a Guest Speaker Well.