Youth Leaders Round Table
Sponsored by AwanaYM

The Youth Leader’s Round Table will create a space for local area youth workers to connect and rally around the common cause of serving students better.

Join in this FREE event to network with other leaders, discuss the greatest challenges in youth ministry, and poll a panel of experts…Oh, and have lunch, on us!

Date: April 6, 2017
Time: 11:30a-2:30p
Willow Creek Community Church, Room TBD
67 Algonquin Rd, South Barrington, IL
Room: the "Garage" outside of Lakeside Auditorium -- follow signs from the D entrance

Get Directions


Round Table Guests Include:

Youth Leader's Round Table

Josh Griffin

Co Founder, Download Youth Ministry
20+ year Ministry Veteran

Josh Griffin is the co-founder of, the host of Youth Ministry Garage podcast and the author of more than 20 youth ministry resources. Josh is an Awana alumnus, and he accredits his time spent in club as a major part of his foundation in faith. Currently, Josh is partnering with Awana Youth Ministries to develop the first year of the new Journey curriculum.

Josh, his wife and four kids live in Southern CA. Josh speaks a little, podcasts a little, tweets a bit and blogs a lot. You can follow him on social media @JoshuaGriffin

Youth Leader's Round Table

Sean McDowell

Author, Speaker
Apologetics Expert

Dr. Sean McDowell is an assistant professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and is listed among the top 100 apologists. Sean speaks throughout the world as well as on various radio shows and media outlets. He is the author, co-author or editor of more than 18 books, as well as a number of books with his father, Josh McDowell.

In 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Follow the dialogue with Sean at

Youth Leader's Round Table

Dr. Larry Acosta

Founder and CEO of Urban Youth Workers Institute

Dr. Larry Acosta is the Founder and CEO of the Urban Youth Workers Institute where our mission is to: Power the urban youth worker, so that urban youth have the leaders and role models they need to live transformed lives by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Larry’s passion is to see the Church reclaim the call to and priority for discipleship. UYWI has created the Discipleship Toolkit- DKIT.UYWI.ORG to fuel our vision to engage 75,000 urban youth in life changing discipleship with a local youth worker by 2020. Larry is married to his lovely wife Jayme and they have four children- two in college and two in middle school.

Youth Leader's Round Table

Elizabeth Bjorling Poest

Christian Ministries Adjunct Professor
Trinity International University

Elizabeth Bjorling Poest is a veteran Middle School pastor with 15 plus years experience. She is a professor of Youth and Christian Ministry courses at Trinity International University and is completing her PhD in Christian Education at TEDS. Elizabeth is ordained in the Church of the Nazarene and was involved in the development of several preteen curriculums for NPH. In her spare time Elizabeth loves adventures with her husband Christopher and catching up with students and interns now scattered around the globe.

Youth Leader's Round Table

Ryan Guard

Director of Student Impact
Willow Creek Community Church

Ryan Guard is the Director of Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church. His wife Lindsay and their three kids (Griffin, Gavin, and Hadley) moved to Chicago from Arizona, where Ryan was a youth pastor for thirteen years and a teaching pastor for two years. Ryan grew up as an atheist, but God completely changed his life when he was 21-years-old. Ryan’s greatest passion is sharing the good news with high school students.

Youth Leader's Round Table

Steve Kozak

Director of Awana Youth Ministries

Steve currently serves as the Executive Director of AwanaYM. Previously, Steve spent over a decade teaching high school theology from Detroit to LA. Steve holds a Masters in Theology from Moody Theological Seminary and a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Steve speaks and writes on youth culture and apologetics. He resides in Chicago, IL with his wife and four children.

Space is limited so register today!

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Trinity International University