XSI breakouts

One of the best parts of the Xenos Summer Institute (XSI) is the breakout sessions--smaller than the main “plenary” teachings, but just as impactful. Though this year’s XSI is smaller in scope than previous years, those attending will still be able to pick from a wide variety.

XSI Director Kim Van Keuls says breakouts offer you a more interactive experience with the speaker and are focused on practical ideas you can put to use in your life and ministry. 

Kim says they focus most of the breakout teachings on the conference’s theme--this year, Rediscovering Community. “We invite guest teachers and teachers from within our church to present something on that topic, but if a presenter has another topic they wish to teach on, we are open to suggestions.”

Some of the session's breakout topics you can choose from:  Entering God's Rest by Chris Risley, The Sin of Cynicism by James Rochford and It's Not Good for Man to be Alone by Scott Risely. 

Two of our XSI guest speakers--Jay Pathak and Scott Sauls--will also be presenting breakout sessions, expanding on their plenary presentations.

2 women talking

Summer is a great time to take a Dwell class. Doug O'Malley will be teaching a 3 week class, “Paul, the Disciplemaker,” starting July 14th. The class looks at Paul's discipleship ministry and the insights we can glean for our own discipling ministry. You can register for this and other Dwell classes at this link.

Doug shares more with us about this class:

What led you to create it? I'd wanted to keep improving as a discipler, and I figured Paul was a good person to learn from. What made him so successful? How did he do it? In my personal time I wound up doing a study on what scripture had to say about Paul's discipleship and ministry career. I learned a ton from it and was surprised how much there was if I looked closely enough. That study spawned this class.

Who do you picture benefitting from it and why? I think this class will be helpful for a wide range of disciplers. We cover an assortment of principles and practical ideas. So on the one hand, we definitely cover things that will be helpful for people just starting to build a discipleship ministry. But when we ran this class last year, some of the most positive feedback on it came from people who had been leading home churches for a long time. I guess that's part of the beauty of discipleship: you always can get stronger in it.

father's day grief graphic

By John Montgomery, Dwell Grief Ministry coordinator

Grief is a lifelong process — it doesn’t end, but it evolves.” — Hope Edelman

Holidays, anniversaries, and special dates can be a bittersweet time when grieving a loved one, no matter how long ago the death occurred. Father’s Day, in particular, can be a painful day for those grieving the death or absence of a father. For many, the day becomes about just getting through. 

Even when you are grieving someone other than your dad, Father’s Day, with its family-oriented “togetherness,” can cause you to focus on the absence of a loved one. 

In Galatians 6:2, Paul instructs that we are to “carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  The word “grief” comes from the Latin verb meaning “to burden.” For many, grief feels exactly like a heavy load that they want to set down – but can’t.

So how can we help ourselves or a friend in grief?

Here are a few tips to help a friend in grief:

1. Acknowledge their loss. Simple acknowledgment from friends and family can go a long way. You might feel reluctant to say something, out of fear that you’ll make them sad, but they are probably already sad. So just say something. The knowledge that someone cares about you and your struggles can be so comforting. “Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

2. Ask them to share memories. Memories help keep us connected to those we love, especially after they are gone. Grieving people feel comforted by talking about their loved one and knowing others are interested in the person who died. 

Many times, when we learn of a death, we ask, “How did they die?” But really it doesn’t matter. We should ask questions about how they lived! So ask your friend to tell a special memory they have. If you knew your friend’s father or deceased loved one, share a story of your own.

3. Find a way to express love. Simple gestures can mean a lot. A card, email, or text to let your friend know you’re thinking of them on Father’s Day can help them feel supported and less isolated. Perhaps include them in your Father’s Day celebration. 

Dwell’s Renegade ministry is looking ahead, planning for its summer camp, while working to re-connect with families it served pre-COVID, and expand to new families

Renegade serves kids in low-income urban neighborhoods, working to meet their spiritual needs, as well as some of their families’ physical needs. Before COVID, Renegade offered weekly Bible study meetings at three different locations--the south side, Linden, and “43229,” near Dwell’s Main Campus. Currently it holds one meeting at Building X, consolidating the three meetings into one.

Renegade Director Bob Fisher says they’ve had a lot of ups and downs since COVID hit. For a time, they had to cancel all in-person meetings. Volunteers focused on supporting Renegade families in other ways, including groceries and supplies. Last fall they were able to start holding weekly Bible studies in local parks, but Franklin County’s Level 4 designation forced them to end that. 

Bob says, “Our biggest negative due to the pandemic was the loss of families and being limited to half capacity for pickup which shut down our ability to invite new students.”

But he says things are more hopeful now. Since February, they have been holding one consolidated weekly meeting at Building X for all kids served by Renegade, and are able to more freely give students rides. “While our weekly numbers are low, we feel the foundation is still in place, praying as things keep relaxing we will be able to expand our numbers, reaching more urban kids in the Linden, south side, and 43229 area.”

In a few weeks, Renegade will hold its summer camp, offering sports, arts, and music activities, as well as Bible studies. In the past, the camp has allowed kids to have new experiences, make new friends, and best of all, start a relationship with God through the good news of the gospel. And through the camp, kids have enjoyed the caring investment of volunteers.

Good Grief support group

By John Montgomery, Dwell Grief Ministry

Over the past 15 years, the Dwell Grief ministry has grown and expanded, offering various workshops and support groups to help people of all ages who are in grief. 

The Good Grief group provides support, comfort, and understanding for high school, college, and young adults who have lost a friend or family member. This group meets to discuss the ways in which such loss continues to affect our lives and how to look to God for hope, strength, and encouragement.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, June 23rd at 7:00 pm, at 3062 Woodbine Place in Clintonville. Please wear a mask if you are not vaccinated. Masks are optional if you are vaccinated. 

Pre-COVID Statistics showed that over 30% of college-age individuals had experienced the loss of a love one. It is likely that this number has now increased. 

After the death of a loved one, it is normal and natural to experience some type of grief.  While it is one of the most powerful of all emotions, it is probably one of the most neglected and misunderstood experiences, often by both grievers and those around them.

One misunderstanding is that grieving and mourning are the same thing. Although many use these words interchangeably, grief is the internal thoughts and feelings we experience when a loved one dies while mourning is the outward expression of those thoughts and feelings. 

When we fail to express our grief, we are at odds with our body’s built-in physiological processes to deal with a traumatic event. We are at odds with God’s spiritual intentions, missing out on his plans to deepen our faith and strengthen our relationship with Him.

Although no two people experience grief in the exact same way, by attending Good Grief, you may find that other people have experiences, feelings, and struggles that are similar to your own. When you feel totally alone and misunderstood by family, friends, roommates, or co-workers, this group can provide a haven of understanding.

So if you are grieving a loved one or trying to help someone who is, come out Wednesday, June 23th, 7:00pm, at 3062 Woodbine Placefor pizza, encouragement, and a better understanding of what it is like to lose a loved one. If you have any questions, email

Teacher in front of class

After holding classes for over a year on Zoom, Dwell is moving back to an in-person format for all its classes, starting with Summer Quarter. You can see what's available and register at this link.

Equipping Division Coordinator Pat Reeder says they initially planned to wait until August to move to in-person classes. But he says recent changes to COVID orders and the high numbers of Dwell members getting vaccinated gave them confidence to make the move sooner.

Pat answers some questions about the change:

What's the value of meeting in-person for these classes?

As a rule, in-person learning is superior. There are substantial non-verbals going between the student and teacher. Students can signal confusion with small facial expressions so that teachers can revisit or repeat things. Also, students are far more distracted over Zoom. When you know the teacher can see you're not paying attention, that creates an unconscious almost reflexive incentive to at least pretend to pay attention. In any case, over Zoom, a necessarily limited tool results in necessarily limited outcomes. No doubt, online learning is a nice tool when in-person is unavailable.  

Did classes succeed on Zoom? What advantages did that give you for that time?

There is no question that without Zoom, our entire department would have ground to a halt during the pandemic. Live video, powerpoint sharing (while less than in-person) is WAY better than nothing. Tim Nunn of ICT played a huge role in helping our instructors learn how to use Zoom right as the state restrictions descended. There were a ton of unique classes that got to run during this time, since LTC was put on hold. Some of our top instructors put together Zoom and YouTube courses. This was a special advantage, though it was not afforded by the technology, so much as by the special circumstances. Finally, we did have a decent group of international partners tune into our classes. We might like to continue to capture this in some form, though that doesn't require that the classes by ALL zoom, but perhaps simply that there would by a zoom broadcast during a normal in-person course. 

Akili classroom

Last Friday was the last day of school for students at Akili Christian High School--marking the end of the school's first year. Akili Principal Ariana Adkins says, as she looks back over the last year, she sees the many ways God has been faithful to the school and its students.

One of the main highlights is God providing a permanent location. After months of searching, the school located an ideal space--a building on Franklin University’s campus. It will move next Tuesday, June 1st, and is looking for volunteers to help. Contact Abbey Bott if you can join in:

Ariana says the successful year represents so many answered prayers, particularly in the midst of COVID: the school year started on time, classes met in-person (except for one COVID closure), and all the support programs launched, including Life Coaching.

Ariana lists other answered prayers:

If you drive by Dwell’s Main Campus, you’ll notice something new: 2 large tents side-by-side on the north side of the large parking lot. The tents expand Dwell’s sheltered outdoor space in a cost-effective way, meeting both a short and long-term need.

New tents

The 2 tents together provide space for over 300 socially distanced seats and, when COVID guidelines are lifted, space for over 600 people sitting closer together. Operations Division Coordinator Steve Bauer says “We are very excited to provide open space during what remains an unstable time. And once we have some feeling of normalcy, these new tents will provide great space for ongoing ministry. 

With COVID guidelines in place, Steve says there’s been a need for people to have space to gather in the open air. “This will be outstanding outdoor space allowing for large meetings and small gatherings even in somewhat inclement weather.”

He also says the tents will be useful for large events like XSI, VBS, and the annual community festival, long after COVID concerns pass. In the past Dwell has rented tents for these events, and Steve says that cost-savings of not renting, along with unspent money from 2020’s budget, covered the cost of this long-term improvement.

The tents sit on a gravel pad. Steve says the new pad offers a side benefit, addressing an issue of poor drainage in that part of Dwell’s property. And he says the gravel pad sets us up well for a possible permanent structure on the site in the future.


After pausing its Leadership Training Class (LTC) for a year, Dwell has resumed the foundational class, determining it can now be done safely, in-person. Over 200 people are taking the class this spring.

While Dwell has been offering other classes by Zoom, Equipping Division Coordinator Pat Reeder says remote learning just doesn’t work for this critical class. “LTC has a lot of discussion and is also 3 hours long. The sphere leaders determined that conducting LTC over Zoom would be worse than waiting until we had the opportunity to do it later.”

He says with many teachers and students vaccinated, they decided it was safe for the class to resume in-person, and it restarted a few weeks ago.

Pat says the class is for those in both the Adult and College ministries, and trains people to be effective, biblically-sound home church leaders. “LTC forms the central nervous system of the Equipping Division. Students are taught what our elders believe is essential to lead competently in a home church.”

“This means that all home church leaders have taken this course or an earlier iteration of it at some point. Much of their knowledge can be traced back to this material. While equipping continues beyond LTC for our leaders, this is the bedrock.”  

He says the class takes 6 quarters to complete, and covers a wide range of topics--from abstract subjects like the Bible’s trustworthiness to practical and concrete subjects like how to lead a prayer meeting.


VBS volunteer and child

Registration is now open for Dwell’s VBS--Vacation Bible School--sharing the love of God with kids preschool through 3rd grade. The format will be modified a bit to accommodate COVID safety, but the focus remains on helping children understand God’s grace and love through crafts, activities, music, and teachings. 

This year’s VBS will be June 21st-25th, from 9:00-11:30 am each day, and will be primarily outside. Claire Howard with VBS says the emphasis is on fun with a purpose--kids leave the week feeling excited about both what they learned about God and what they can continue to learn.  “I think this year especially is important for these young kids to see how many other kids are excited to learn about God in this city. Especially since many haven't interacted with others for some time.”

One of the best things about VBS is how welcoming it is to kids who don’t know about God’s grace--please consider if there’s a guest you might invite. VBS's Anne Trader says it’s a unique opportunity to invite family, friends, and neighbors to hear the gospel and see the amazing blessing of fellowship God has given us through the church. 

A few notes about this year: there will be no drama, but there will be a music team, sharing songs that kids (and parents) will be singing long after VBS. There won’t be a nursery this year, so if you’re volunteering and need childcare, you’ll need to make other arrangements. And at this point the plan is for kids and volunteers to wear masks while together.