The triennial ISM Staff Conference 18 will be held in Tempe, AZ, Jan 2-6, 2018. See email communication about the conference.

What should you expect?



All full-time ISM staff are required to attend. We love to see part-time ISM staff, ISM-friendly staff, and potential ISM candidates! This conference is a great opportunity to bring students who are considering coming on staff, and the best time to connect with ISM staff and ISM resources. We're looking into childcare, but we are a welcoming group! Your young one is free to be in our sessions if you feel comfortable.

Or did you want to know, "Who will I see there?" Expositors Tom Lin and Joe Ho!


The conference costs $980 per person. This includes reimbursement for travel as well as lodging, food, and facility fees.


If you are driving:

There is valet or self-parking at the hotel. For those staying at the hotel, parking is included in your registration. Submit mileage for reimbursement to the ISM Staff Conference cost center. If you are driving in for the day, parking is $12/day.

If you are flying:

Make reservations to arrive at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport by 7 PM on Jan 2 and to depart any time on Jan 6. The registration fee does not cover travel to and from the airport, airport parking, or meals while traveling. Flight costs can be expensed through Workday to the ISM Staff Conference cost center. Any expenses submitted after the 60 day deadline will not be reimbursed.

Tempe Mission Palms provides a shuttle that runs every half hour between the airport and hotel between 5:30 AM and 10:30 PM.

Table Talks (formerly Think Tanks)

Table Talks invite staff to address common ISM issues by collaborating together to answer questions and solve problems. As an alternative to these table talks, we will debut a new staff training track for newcomers who want to learn the basics of ISM staff work. Why the name change? We're all about hospitality, and we want even our content titles to reflect that! We felt that "Table Talk" better envisioned a space where all staff can bring their ideas to the table and collaborate freely...maybe even with some snacks!

Leadership: Inviting Students to Move Along the Pathway

  • Identifying and affirming international student leaders is still a challenge, which effects our goal of internationals as agents of change in their home countries or elsewhere.  This table talk’s focus is on where issues lie and what best practices will help students understand and affirm their God-given gift of leadership.
  • How can we increase the number of internationals in the Little Bro/Sis and Big Bro/Sis categories?

Reentry: Preparing Students for Post-Academic Transitions

  • Preparing our students for post-academic transitions often is an afterthought in highly evangelistic and fast-paced chapters. What are key issues and best practices to prepare students for post-academic and crosscultural transition? How do we move away from “I do this in the last 3 months” to an integrated development of disciples and leadership?
  • How can we equip students in discipleship, formation, and spiritual and work integration?

Training Student and Community Volunteers

  • Volunteers enhance our ministry in many ways, but they can also present challenges if out of touch with the needs of internationals and/or Intervarsity’s vision. How can we train American community and student volunteers in student empowerment, partnership, crosscultural sensitivity, and vision for creating world changers?
  • How can we develop better lenses for ministry collaboration?

Evangelism: Inviting Students from Curiosity to Openness

  • Recent AFR’s show most internationals do not cross from threshold #2 (curiosity) to #3 (openness). When open, students are willing to take a risk to see if Jesus is real. The students and the staff inviting them along the thresholds each live with unique worldviews and cultural practices. How do we develop cultural awareness as we proclaim the Gospel and empower students to cross the threshold?
  • Why do students fail to move forward? What communication from staff assist or hinder movement through the thresholds?


  • Jesus invites us to respond to him and his announcement of the Kingdom of God by becoming his disciples. What does it mean to live as a disciple? What are our preferred methods for helping ourselves and others grow in walking with Jesus? Some of these include certain spiritual disciplines (e.g., quiet time, inductive Bible study); some include certain ways of engaging God, other people, society, and creation. However, how we enact those various elements takes on unique and important methods from culture to culture.
  • What key questions do we need to address to help our students follow Christ (marriage, work, family)? What are practical ways we help staff and students become aware of their own cultural framework and dynamics as they learn from each other in Christ by the Spirit?

Foundations for ISM

  • New ISM staff, potential ISM staff, new-er ISM staff, any staff with international students, and volunteers are encouraged to participate in our ISM staff training newly offered this year. This track will help you to understand the character, skills and practices necessary for fruitful ministry with international students. You will be equipped to work in any ministry context and be able to contextualize IV's best tools for use in ISM work.


5+1 Pillars of Effective Gospel Friendships with Mints

Do you want to learn how to have more and more productive spiritual conversations with Mints? We will discuss how to build missional friendships with Mints that lead to Gospel conversations and influence, as well as introducing tools that your chapter could use on campus. Expect practical challenges and real life stories.

Bringing Partners to the Nations: Integrating ISM with MPD

Doing MPD as ISM staff can feel like there are more restrictions than freedoms: names have to be changed, countries of origin have to be hidden, and your best photos are often unusable for safety purposes. But doing ISM work also has some unique advantages when it comes to casting vision and inviting partnership. In this workshop, we’ll talk about those advantages and how to better integrate our ISM work into our MPD, yielding more and more fruitful partnerships.

Cultural Dynamics in InterVarsity

As a follow-up to the multiethnic discussions of the day, have an informal conversation with VP Joe Hoe about his experiences and views of cultural dynamics with InterVarsity.

NSO AND CORE TEAMS: Identifying and Building Core Teams from the Beginning

Reimagine your NSO to focus on identifying Christians and take steps to build them into a core team. Hear real life examples and best practices.

Difficult work, Difficult Supervisor

“I feel overwhelmed” “My supervisor doesn’t understand my work” “My ministry seems never ending” — If professional and personal questions like these drum in your head, then this seminar can provide help with ways to create inner freedom and space and manage your non-ISM supervisor.

Just Hospitality

Is what we're offering just hospitality or justice-centered hospitality? In a strong hospitality ministry, how can we be equipped to offer welcome to international students in a way that is true and good? With intense national and global conflict, it's important for us to bring our whole cultural selves to the table as we extend the gospel of reconciliation to others. Come learn for yourself or your student leaders what it looks like to integrate a desire for justice and honesty about ourselves in our mission to host international students.

Moving on Well with Jesus: Serving Students for Post-Academic Transitions and reentry

What kinds of ministry have served our graduates as they followed Jesus after graduation? Our panel aims to ask questions about marriage, money, job searching, lifestyle, ministry, and share how they prepared students for life outside the university. Hear surprising stories about alumni and discuss proposed ways to integrate these topics into your ministry.

Spiritual Warfare and Prayer

This seminar will help staff engage in understanding spiritual warfare and learn how to connect our prayer to our mission of international student ministry. We will also be sharing ideas about the kinds of issues that internationals are likely to face due to their family and cultural backgrounds.

The Power of Telling Stories

From the dawn of time, people have passed down stories from generation to generation. This is true of scripture as well - 40% of the Bible is narrative, and many cultures today still learn through oral storytelling. Students and staff love telling stories as a natural and relational way to share the gospel! Join us to learn a Bible story and the 3 reasons why storytelling will revolutionize your evangelism strategy.

Wouldn't you love to be here in January?