M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


2023 Leadership Now Conference | The Power of the Gospel in Healing

Our 2023 conference theme was The Power of the Gospel in Healing. In the wake of the global pandemic, our nation has remembered anew that when catastrophe strikes, it is our doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals who come to our rescue time and again. But as is all too often the case, large sectors of society have forgotten the origins of medicine flowing from our culture’s origins in the traditions rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ. From its inception, the Church engaged the healing arts not least because its founder, Jesus of Nazareth, healed the sick during his ministry (cf. Matt. 9; 10:8; 25:34-36). The early Church not only endorsed medicine, but also championed care for those infirmed or dying. From these roots in Judeo-Christian compassion until the present day, those in the Church have been on the front lines of healing ministries through hospitals, relief organizations, hospice movements, and more. This year’s conference theme considered the Gospel’s legacy in society in caring for our embodied human selves and how the legatees of Christ’s peoples have changed the world through charity, healing, medicine, and other social services through time.

Below are links to the video recordings from the 2023 Leadership Now Conference.

  • Welcome & Overview: Kimberly Thornbury (video)
    • Kimberly Thornbury, PhD, is vice president for Nonprofit Leadership & Development at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Kimberly’s opening remarks frame the following talks with the rich history of Christian compassion through healing ministries, rooted in the love and example of Christ.
  • How to Tell a Story That Will Set Us Free: Esau McCaulley (video)
    • Esau McCaulley, PhD, is an author, New York Times contributing opinion writer, and Wheaton College professor. In this talk, Esau considers the importance of the stories we tell and their power to administer healing from generational wounds, racism, and other traumas.
  • Healing from Sin: John Mark Comer (video)
    • John Mark Comer is founding pastor of Bridgetown Church and teacher for Practicing the Way, a nonprofit that creates spiritual resources for church communities to become more like Jesus. In this talk, John Mark talks about the types of sin from which we need healing: sin done by us, sin done to us, and sin done around us.
  • A Conversation on Healing: Curtis Chang, Jon Foreman, John Mark Comer, Esau McCaulley, moderated by Kimberly Thornbury (video)
    • Four of our outstanding speakers gathered for a panel conversation moderated by Kimberly Thornbury. They discussed the importance of honest art as a vessel of healing, the value of all jobs and vocations in this journey, and prayer that changes reality and changes us.
  • Theological Reflections: Richard Dahlstrom (video)
    • Richard Dahlstrom, author, speaker, coach, and former senior pastor of Bethany Community for 26 years, offered theological reflections that synthesized the learnings of the first two talks.
  • Performance by Jon Foreman: (Video forthcoming)
    • Jon Foreman, award-winning solo artist and front man for the band Switchfoot, invited participants into an evening of songs about healing in all its forms.
  • The Anxiety Opportunity: Curtis Chang (video)
    • Curtis Chang is an author, podcast host, and professor at Duke Divinity School. In this talk, Curtis explored instances of anxiety in the Gospels and reframed anxious thinking as an opportunity for spiritual growth and encounter with Jesus.
  • Rise and Go: Healing the Lepers: Romanita Hairston (video)
    • Romanita Hairston, CEO of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, spoke of the power of a healing community and the importance of those who can lead with love in our in-between, borderland moment in time.
  • Theological Bookend: Richard Dahlstrom (video)
    • Richard Dahlstrom offers theological reflections on the last two plenary talks and gives a final encouragement to guests.

2022 Leadership Now Conference | The Beauty That Will Save the World

Our 2022 conference theme was The Beauty That Will Save the World. When Dostoevsky uttered these famous words, he was not referencing only art or aesthetics. Rather, the great Russian novelist witnessed to the true and glorious Christian faith – which carries unique, compelling, and unchanging beauty. “The Beauty That Will Save the World,” finds its exemplars in God’s people through acts of good will in their incarnational work (like Murdock Trust grantees!) In times of suffering, it is the presence of awe and the wonder of grace that make all the difference. Throughout the ancient life of the Christian community up until this very moment, we always find that it is the Gospel of Christ – which esteems not the wise, nor the noble, nor those of high standing or position, but the bearers of good news – that brings true beauty. It is the glory of the cross and resurrection – that brings solace and hope to a watching world which waits for the One who says, “Behold, I make all things new” through the lives of those who confess the promise of the coming Kingdom. (Rev: 21:5)

Below are links to the video recordings from the 2022 Leadership Now Conference.

  • Welcome & Overview: Kimberly Thornbury (video)
    • Kimberly Thornbury, PhD, is senior program director for enrichment at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Kimberly’s opening remarks frame the importance of beauty for leaders today – in particular the unique, compelling, and unchanging beauty of the Christian faith – and offer a warm encouragement for the two days ahead.
  • Beauty, Trauma, and the Renewal of All Things: Curt Thompson, M.D. (video)
    • Curt Thompson, MD, is a psychiatrist who brings together a dialect of interpersonal neurobiology and a Christian anthropology to educate and encourage others as they seek to fulfill their intrinsic desire to feel known, valued, and connected. Curt is the acclaimed author of The Soul of Shame, Anatomy of the Soul, The Soul of Desire, and more, and hosts a popular podcast called “Being Known.” In this talk, Curt addresses an essential yet little-discussed aspect of leadership: the importance of those in our lives who make us feel seen, soothed, safe, and secure. It is out of the sure and secure beauty of these relationships that our best leadership can spring forth.
  • The Beauty of the Bride: Nicky and Sila Lee (video)
    • Nicky and Sila Lee joined us from London, where they are on staff at Holy Trinity Brompton Church and where they developed The Marriage Course and authored The Marriage Book. Married for forty-six years, Nicky and Sila’s primary ministry is helping equip couples and families with practical resources to strengthen their relationships. Their work has impacted over 3 million people. In this first talk of Nicky and Sila’s, they share their own story and consider the importance of cultivating beauty in the most central relationships of our lives.
  • Difficult Beauty: James K.A. Smith (video)
    • James K.A. Smith, PhD, is professor of philosophy at Calvin University and editor in chief of Image Journal, a quarterly devoted to “art, mystery, and faith.” He is the award-winning author of a number of books, including You Are What You Love, Who’s Afraid of Post-Modernism?, On the Road with Saint Augustine, and most recently, How to Inhabit Time. In this plenary talk, Jamie offers a vision for leaders whose eyes and minds have been formed by gazing at “difficult” beauty – that is, engaging with contemporary art. This experience can cultivate an ability to abide in mystery, and to rest in that which we do not fully understand – an essential skill for leaders today.
  • Panel Conversation: James K.A. Smith, Curt Thompson, Nicky and Sila Lee, Kimberly Thornbury (video)
    • In this Q&A, Kimberly leads a conversation about what our speakers are reading, where they find courage in spiritually empty environments, how one begins a process of change, and where they are finding surprising beauty.
  • The Beauty of the Bridegroom: Nicky and Sila Lee (video)
    • In Nicky and Sila’s second plenary talk, they consider the theme of the bridegroom through stories and Scripture. They suggest that the hope for lasting societal change is found primarily in the church, which must be motivated by the beauty that will save the world: the beauty of the bridegroom, Jesus.
  • The Beauty of Relationships: Romanita Hairston (video)
    • Romanita Hairston is CEO of the Murdock Trust, as of July 2022, after serving in leadership roles at both World Vision and Microsoft. In this talk, Romanita offers a reflection on the “Beloved Community,” reminding us of the importance of context and the beauty of relationships. Using the Trinity as an example, she engages the idea of systemic relationships that are nurtured in love, grounded in a localized existence, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in eternity.
  • Theological Reflections Day 1: Mark Strong (video)
    • Mark Strong, pastor of Life Change Church in Portland and executive director of Father-Shift, offers theological reflections on the first day’s content. He encourages listeners to know their own beauty, established by God’s image in them, and to become the type of people who draw out the beauty of others.
  • Theological Reflections Day 2: Mark Strong (video)
    • Mark Strong offers some final theological reflections on the content of this conference, considering how God revealed his beauty to Moses in a challenging community situation and how he might do the same for us.

2021 Leadership Now Conference | Resilience for Our New Reality

For many leaders, whose challenges are great and resources too few, the past year felt like an unwelcome sort of “piling on.” We’re committed to help you navigate the times because we are witness to your indefatigable dedication. At the helm, like legendary captains at sea, you keep your institutional missions going through uncharted waters and stormy seas. You speak, show, stand, and stay. As the Latin American proverb goes, “The world tried to bury me, but it didn’t know I was a seed.” At the Murdock Trust, we’ll side with the seeds. 

Below are links to the video recordings from the 2021 Leadership Now Conference.

  • Welcome & Overview: Kimberly Thornbury (video)
    • Kimberly Thornbury, PhD is the Senior Program Director for Enrichment at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Kimberly’s opening remarks frame our theme of resilience and offer a blessing of encouragement to our leaders and guests.
  • How Good Leaders Become Great: Arthur Brooks
    • Arthur C. Brooks is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School. Before joining the Harvard faculty in July of 2019, he served for ten years as president of the Washington, D.C.- based American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of the world’s leading think tanks. Here, Arthur explains how years of research has revealed realities of great leadership. He even shares the formula for finding (and sharing) happiness along the way.
  • Leading Well: Tom Nelson (video)
    • Tom Nelson is the founding and senior pastor of Christ Community Church in the Kansas City area.  He is also President of Made To Flourish, a nonprofit organization that equips pastors to connect faith, work and economics in the lives of their congregants. In this session, Tom discusses the model of shepherd leadership through a look at Psalm 23, reminding us that the key to leading others well is accepting for ourselves the gracious leadership of the Good Shepherd.
  • Evening Plenary: Lo Alaman (video)
    • Lo Alaman is the founder and lead curator of Urban Hymnal, a creative community that is seeking and reflecting Christ in culture. A celebrated author, artist, and poet, Lo leads an Advent meditation through spoken-word poetry and pastoral reflections.
  • When You Lose Your Why, You Lose Your Way: Rich Stearns (video)
    • Rich Stearns is President Emeritus of World Vision US where he served as president for twenty years. Prior to his time at World Vision, Rich served as the CEO of two nationally known companies, Parker Brothers Games and Lenox China. In this session, Rich explains the importance of clarifying and holding fast to your “why”, which is the key to leading others through tumultuous and uncertain times.
  • Honoring Resilience — A Tribute to Steve Moore (video)
    • After 15 years of leadership at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, CEO and Executive Director Steve Moore has announced his upcoming retirement. During this session, leaders Josh Good, Ben Sand, and Deborah Wilds reflect on Steve’s impactful model of resilient leadership and Christlike service throughout his time at the Trust.
  • Resilient Resistance — Loving Justice, Walking Humbly: Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung
    • Dr. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung is a professor at Calvin University, where she has taught philosophy for the past 24 years, after earning her PhD from the University of Notre Dame. In this session, Dr. DeYoung unearths the monastic history of the seven deadly sins and offers a practical path from vice to virtue for leaders today.
  • Resource: Facilitator Questions

2020 Leadership Now Conference | Called to Serve in This Moment

Listen to the plenary sessions as podcast episodes. Your experience as a leader in 2020 in a Wordcloud

  • Plenary Session #1: James Bryan Smith (video)
    • James is the Dallas Willard Chair of Christian Spiritual Formation and Professor of Theology at Friends University as well as the Executive Director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation. In this session, James helps open the two day Leadership Now conference.
  • Plenary Session #2: Robert P. George (video)
    • Professor George serves a variety of roles, including Founder and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. In this conversation, moderated by Montse Alvarado, VP and Executive Director of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, Professor George takes an important look at how religious liberty contributes to human flourishing.
  • Plenary Session #3: David Brooks & Anne Snyder (video)
    • David, a New York Times Columnist and Author, and his wife Anne, Editor in Chief at Comment Magazine, discuss how we can effectively build trust in a time of moral convulsion. This discussion is moderated by Josh Good, the Director of Faith Angle Forum.
  • Plenary Session #4: N.T. Wright (video)
    • N.T. is a research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews and a Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe (wick-liff) Hall at Oxford. In a conversation moderated by Amy Kardash, President of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools, NT discusses how we can all go about mending broken signposts to serve our common good.
  • Plenary Session #5: Senator Ben Sasse (video)
    • Senator Sasse of Nebraska speaks with Cherie Harder, president of Trinity Forum, regarding how we all find a productive way forward following the divisive 2020 election.
  • Plenary Session #6: Lecrae (video)
    • A musician, activist, author and co-founder of Reach Records, Lecrae discusses the value of leadership as a means of planting seeds for human flourishing. This session is moderated by Rudy Carrasco, Program Director with the Murdock Trust.
  • Plenary Session #7: James Bryan Smith (video)
    • James is the Dallas Willard Chair of Christian Spiritual Formation and Professor of Theology at Friends University as well as the Executive Director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation. In this session, James helps draw our two day conference to a close.
  • Resource: Facilitator Questions

2019 Leadership Advance Conference | Listening to Wisdom: Hearing the Voices of Our Neighbors

*Please note: due to technical difficulties, the audio recordings from this conference are of poor quality. We hope the content is still of value despite the challenges.

  • Welcome: Bishop Claude Alexander (audio)
  • Conversation 1: Alex Hill & Eboo Patel (audio)
  • Conversation 2: Shirley Hoogstra & Tyler Deaton (audio)
  • Evening Session: Jeremy Courtney (audio)
  • Conversation 3: James Ackerman, Tammy Franklin, Fred Mendrin & Maurice Woods (audio)
  • Conversation 4: Steve Garber & Jeremy Courtney (audio)
  • Closing: Bishop Claude Alexander (audio)

2018 Leadership Advance Conference | Listening to Wisdom: Hearing the Voices of Our Great Cloud of Witnesses

  • Session 1: Sandy Richter (audio)
  • Session 2: John Yates (audio)
  • Session 3: Trillia Newbell (audio)
  • Session 4: Panel (audio)
  • Session 5: Jeff Pinneo & Rich Stearns (audio)
  • Session 6: Sandy Richter & Trillia Newbell (audio)
  • Session 7: Closing (audio)

2017 Leadership Advance Conference | Telling THE Story: Telling YOUR Story

  • Session 1: Andy Crouch (audio)
  • Session 2: Andy Crouch (audio)
  • Optional Film Viewing: Terry Stokesbary & John Priddy (audio)
  • Session 3: Eugene Cho (audio)
  • Session 4: Andy Crouch & Romanita Hairston-Overstreet (audio)
  • Lunch Presentation: Tim Mackie (audio)
  • Breakout Resource: Getting Your Organization’s Story Told / Telling Your Organization’s Story in Times of Crisis or Misrepresentation | Brian Gard & Bill Robinson (PDF)

2016 Leadership Advance Conference | Preparing for the Future: The Vital Work of Developing People

  • Session 1: Brenda Salter McNeil (audio)
  • Session 2: Bruce McNicol, John Lynch, Bill Thrall (audio)
  • Session 3: Brenda Salter McNeil (audio)
  • Breakout Resource: Bill Robinson, “Executive Leadership: A Model of Growth & Development” (pptx)

2015 Leadership Advance Conference | Understanding the New Millennium: Reexamining the Cultural Narratives

  • Session 1: Alissa Wilkinson, “The Core of Our Cultural Narratives” (audio)
  • Session 2: Greg Jao, “Living With Pluralism” (audio)
  • Session 3: Peter Greer, “Navigating the Cultural Landscape: Anchors and Sails” (audio)
  • Session 4: Jason Locy, “Engaging a Post-Modern World with Your Organization’s Story” (audio)
  • Session 5: Dave Blanchard, “Harnessing the Entrepreneurship Narrative” (audio)
  • Session 6: Panel & Closing (audio)

2014 Leadership Advance Conference | Word Made Flesh

  • Session 1: Introduction by Steve Moore & Terry Stokesbary (audio)
  • Session 2: Sandra Richter keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
  • Session 3: Mark Labberton Keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
  • Session 4: Michael Lindsay keynote (audio)
  • Session 5: Sandra Richter keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)
  • Session 6: Mark Labberton keynote with Michael Lindsay response (audio)

2013 Leadership Advance Conference | Convicted Civility: Candid Conversations in a Conflictual Culture

  • Session 1: Introduction by Dr. Steve Garber (audio)
  • Session 2: Dr. Richard Mouw, “A Journey Toward Convicted Civility” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 3: Dr. Richard Mouw, “The Hard Work of Convicted Civility” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 4: Dr. Richard Mouw, “God Loves a Pluralistic Society” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 5: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Every Person is Full of Hopes and Dreams” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 6: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Common Grace for the Common Good” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 7: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Leadership… Living with the Mystery of God’s Work” (MP4 | audio)
  • Session 8: Dr. Richard Mouw, “Cultivating Conviction and Passion” (MP4 | audio)

2012 Leadership Advance Conference | Leadership in a Changing/Unchanging Time

  • Session 1: Introduction by Steve Garber (audio)
  • Session 2: Eric Metaxas (audio)
  • Session 3: David Kinnaman (audio)
  • Session 4: Eric Metaxas (audio)
  • Session 5: Kentra Creasy Dean (audio)

2011 Leadership Advance Conference | Shaping the Soul of a Leader

  • Session 1: John Ortberg (audio)
  • Session 2: Ruth Haley Barton (audio)
  • Session 3: John Ortberg (audio)
  • Session 4: Ruth Haley Barton (audio)

2010 Leadership Advance Conference

  • Session 1: Steve Garber & Sharon Parks (audio)
  • Session 2: Andy Crouch & Sharon Parks (audio)
  • Session 3: Michael Flaherty (audio)
  • Session 4: Charlie Peacock & Sharon Parks (audio)

2009 Leadership Advance Conference

  • Session 1: Rob McKenna & Ron Carucci (audio)
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