FORTIFY Conference Banner


A Jam-Packed Schedule

This will give you an idea of how the program will flow, although there are numerous sessions and components not listed in this general overview.

    By invitation only      Food and/or beverage included      Involves an additional cost


11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Registration/Information Station Open

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
River Walk Walking Tours
If this is your first time to “Alamo City,” join a group and follow one of our Citygate Network board members on a 30-minute stroll along the river to see what’s what and what’s where. You’ll return past the Alamo with fresh stories and new friends.

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Up-Front Workshops       

Clarify Counselor Training (Part A)
Professional counseling is quickly becoming a cornerstone of the life-transformation process at member organizations, so we’ve dedicated six hours over two days to help counselors and ministry staff clarify their roles and bring clarity into the hearts of their clients. On day one, the counseling faculty will focus on providing sound instruction, uncovering important research, and giving you tools for your counseling toolbox. After a breakfast together the next morning, we’ll help staff members apply the training through role playing and diving into real-world case studies. CEUs will be available.

Fortify Fundraiser Training (Part A)
The rules of resource development are changing radically, but we want to help you fortify your fundraising strategy with six hours of intensive education and sharpening. On day one of our training, expert fundraisers will prepare development staff by analyzing the key trends you must understand and detailing techniques that are getting results. Following a fortifying breakfast the next morning, we’ll give development staff opportunities for role playing, creating or honing a development plan, and other hands-on activities. You’ll leave with a new comfort level for interacting with donors and a strategy you can build upon.

1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Ripple Effect Board Performance Acceleration (Part A)      
You’ve wanted to get some of your board members to one of our Annual Conferences; now, here’s your chance. We’re tacking our highly rated Ripple Effect board development program onto the front end of this year’s grand event. (And dinner is included on Tuesday evening.) To attend, your organization must be represented by the CEO and at least two board members (up to five board members permitted—board officers ideal). Topics include structuring for policy governance, clarifying board and management roles, the art of discernment, seeking high-impact outcomes, roles in resource development, avoiding the three most common board-management conflicts, integrity and transparency, and succession planning. In addition to this two-day workshop (with notebook and amazing resources), participating missions/ministries get an executive coach for the next nine months who will make at least two on-site visits.

1:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Community First! Village Field Trip      
No other housing initiative from a faith-based organization has received more national attention than this one. It is a must-see endeavor. We’ll take a comfortable motor coach up to Austin and tour this 51-acre master-planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing in a supportive setting for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. With its own farm and multiple businesses—plus a wellness and respite center in the works—this model is something that MUST be replicated across the continent. Our behind-the-scenes special tour will inspire you to take pictures and measurements. Come see how to empower your community into a lifestyle of service with formerly homeless neighbors.

Our trip home will take us through the historic town of Gruene (pronounced “green,” like the color). Talk about quintessential Texas. We’ll have dinner at the Gristmill, perched on a hill above the lazy Guadalupe River.


7:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Registration/Information Station Open

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.       
Up-Front Workshops/Ripple Effect Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Haven for Hope Field Trip    
Today’s tour is right in town. We’ll see this much-publicized initiative—started in 2006 and fully operational in 2010—that has brought together faith-based groups and public assistance programs in order to make it easier for San Antonio’s poorest people to access resources. The multi-acre campus provides residential housing while clients work to address the issues that have led to their homelessness. Now with 150 partner organizations, services range from providing a low-barrier shelter (courtyard) all the way to securing permanent housing.
Other cities have tried to model Haven for Hope, but few have reached the same capacity. Naturally, because of its blended approach, Haven for Hope has its detractors from both the faith community and the public sector, but it is the biggest player in town and has to be seen if you’re in San Antonio. There is a lot to be learned.

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Up-Front Workshops (Part B)

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Ripple Effect (Part B)

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
HUD-Citygate Network Symposium         
We’re sitting down at the table again with key staff from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and members of Continuums of Care (CoC) in the South-Central States. If you are from the Rawhide District, plus Kansas and Louisiana, we invite you to arrive early and be at the table because a CoC representative from your city will likely be there. (Watch for your personal invitation.) We’ll talk about what on our streets is working and what’s not, plus investigate some of the ways communities and service providers can better work together to reduce and ultimately prevent the seemingly overwhelming problems we are facing. We’ll also look at the State of Homelessness in America report from the Council of Economic Advisors and see where there might be common ground.


1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
First-Timers (and Old-Timers) Orientation
If this is your very first Citygate Network Annual Conference and Exposition, come find out from our hosts and their helpers what this major event is all about. There will be loads of laughter and a lot of prizes. And we’re also inviting people who have been to 10 or more of these events to join us in a speed dating-like setting to provide their helpful insights, answer your questions, and make them-selves available as mentors and fortifiers throughout our four days together—and maybe longer, if mutually desired.

2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Track Seminars (Group 1)

3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Exhibitors Guacamole Huddle      
All of our business partners are invited to come together with the Citygate Network president and board members for some pre-dinner dipping and an exciting update on the association and future opportunities.

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Salsa Bar Networking   
We have 19 different professional networks in our association, from Executive Leadership to Addiction Recovery to Vocational Education to Information Technology get it. Find the group you identify with and converse over chips and a variety of salsas (but save room for dinner). Bring business cards to keep the connections going.

5:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday Night General Session and Dinner   
General sessions are the most popular component of our conferences. Virtually everybody shows up. That’s because there’s always something stimulating happening on one of the stages, on the screen, on the floor, or at the tables. We’ll start with dinner and move on to our always-popular networking. Crawford Lorrits will be our keynote speaker in this general session. The much-admired Sara Groves will lead us in worship.

7:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall Grand Opening and Dessert   
It’s just two floors below to all the action. There will be close to 100 exhibits with people who love what you’re doing and want to help you by providing products and services to improve your performance. The Exhibit Hall is always a great place to grab a walk-around dessert and network with our business partners and other mission/ministry folks. And we’ve converted the Exhibit Hall foyer into an activity center with games, resource connection points, and congregating areas to get better acquainted with new friends and colleagues.

9:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Emerging Leaders Suite Open
If you’re 39 and under, we have an upstairs living room set aside for you to gather and debrief, and to talk about ministry matters and life in general. And it will be stocked with snacks and drinks.


7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
“Just Show Up” Public Reading of Scripture
Every year it seems we have to get a bigger room for this simple but spirit-settling Scripture-only engagement. Various passages are clearly narrated with soft music and sound effects. The Holy Spirit does the interpretation. Morning finger food and beverages will be available.

7:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Registration/Information Station Open

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Prayer Suite Open
Come by for personal meditation or to have someone pray with you. Appropriate private counseling is available at this time or throughout the conference.

8:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Exhibit Hall Open
The “food trucks” on the second floor will be revved up and ready to go with breakfast burritos and other items. It’s cash and carry...right into the Exhibit Hall. Come see what’s happening in the hall with the first light of a new day.

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Thursday Morning General Session
Sara Groves will be back to lead us in worship. We’ll have our usual networking, videos, and presentations. Our primary presenter is the uniquely talented Hyatt Moore. His presentation and perspective will be captivating and spiritually motivating.

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Citygate Network Board Business Meeting       

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall Lunch   
It’s back down to the second floor for another opportunity to network and engage with business partners. Every year, the connections made during this time are invaluable. And you get lunch to boot.

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Track Seminars (Group 2)

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Track Seminars (Group 3)

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Prayer Suite Open
Come by for personal meditation or to have someone pray with you. Appropriate private counseling is available at this time or throughout the conference.

5:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Boot Scoot Lessons!
Okay, this is the point when things take a real Texas turn. The rest of the day’s activities will happen off-site, over at La Villita and the Arneson River Theater (just a couple of blocks away). Here’s your chance to get over there ahead of the crowd and do some real Texas line dancing with a professional instructor. (And for those with a conservative upbringing, don’t fret; this isn’t the dancing you were warned about as a kid.) There will be some great music and prizes for the most improved. Cowboy boots aren’t required, but they will make you look a whole lot cooler.

6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Dinner on Villita Street    
We pretty much have this historic little alley with its cute shops and plaza all to ourselves. Grab a plate, walk the bricks, and pile on some tasty local fare. Claim a seat on the wall or the church steps and enjoy the company of peers in a festive, street-fair atmosphere.

6:45 p.m. – 8:15p.m.
Arneson River Theater Concert
You won’t soon forget this one-of-a-kind venue with seats on one side of the river and the stage on the other, connected by a classic arched bridge. This is where we’ll hear the English Brothers describe the legends of Central Texas through smooth ballads. This will be a night to remember.

9:00 p.m. – 9:50 p.m.
Deep in the Heart...
Not of Texas, but of God. That’s what we want to hear: how your life and His heart are lining up. Back at the Hyatt, we’ll have some blankets and several circles of chairs in place for an old-fashioned testimony time in front of the flames. Before turning in for the night, come be encouraged by what God is doing in the lives of friends as they recount His faithfulness.

9:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Emerging Leaders Suite Open
If you were born since Ronald Reagan took office, you have a “key” to our door. Drop in and chat about whatever’s on your mind, hopefully something uplifting for your age counterparts in ministry.


7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
“Just Show Up” Public Reading of Scripture
Come early. Even though it’s the second day, based on experience, the room will likely fill up fast.

7:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Registration/Information Station Open

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Prayer Suite Open
Come by for personal meditation or to have someone pray with you. Appropriate private counseling is available at this time or throughout the conference.

8:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Exhibit Hall Open
Pick up some grub from the food trucks (cash and carry) and pick up where you left off yesterday in your conversations with exhibitors, consultants, and other members.

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Friday Morning General Session
Dan and Sandy Adler will lead us in worship in this session. God’s Word will be opened by Lina Abujamra. Her perspective on what’s happening around the world these days will capture your attention and your emotions. Also this morning you will hear a creative Citygate Network update and will be challenged to substantially participate in the journey.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall Lunch   
Walk and talk. Eat and greet. This is your final opportunity for incredible resource gathering and networking in the Exhibit Hall.

1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Track Seminars (Group 4)

3:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Friday Afternoon General Session
This all-group gathering will take a different tack. The spiritual journey of Russ Taff is one that might parallel your own, or certainly some of the people you serve. His overcoming story in the midst of ministry will be a highlight of this event—and some of his music might be, as well.

5:00 p.m. – Whenever
San Antonio Stroll
This is your evening off to step out with friends and find a place on the River Walk (or elsewhere in this enchanting town) for dinner and memorable fellowship. Some of our business partners will use this night to get to know clients and prospective clients better. Let one of them know if you’re looking for an invitation.

6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Gatekeepers’ Regale       
Those who have contributed significantly to Citygate Network over the past year in leadership roles, on volunteer assignments, and with above-and-beyond donations are invited to gather for a dress-up dinner in a private room at an amazing downtown museum.

9:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Emerging Leaders Suite Open
Don’t be too loud!


7:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Registration/Information Station Open

7:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
The Big Stuff: 90-Minute Super Seminars
We’ve held some of our biggest topics—the things we’re asked most about—until this morning to give them minimum competition and maximum time. Here’s the short list from which to choose:

Fortifying All Aspects of Campus Security
James Sang Lee
Safety for your guests, students, staff, and volunteers is becoming more and more of a concern—not only because of addictions and mental illness all around, but because violent retaliation and political divisiveness is part of our culture. Learn from an expert—who advises governments and religious organizations—where the holes in your safety net are and how to have multi-layered protection that doesn’t stand up and announce itself.

Taking the ‘Limits’ Off Your Leadership
Jo Saxton
This is not necessarily about empowering leaders with tools to lead projects and people effectively; it’s about calling them out of hiding, helping them find their voices, and reminding them that they were created and commissioned to lead. Answer important questions about what’s happening in your life and what is shaping you. Learn how to raise your game as a leader to overcome the next obstacle you face and maximize the next opportunity you discover.

Answering the What-If Questions for Religious Hiring
All-Pro Panel
Adherence to Christian beliefs and biblical standards has always been a bona fide occupational qualification for 501(c)(3) faith-focused organizations in America. But we could be one election away from seeing that change (just like it did in Canada). We’re going to talk about the likelihood of the Religious Freedom Reformation Act crumbling and answer questions and discuss options now, rather than waiting until it happens.

How Technology Will Forever Change Addiction Recovery
Ed DeShields
While still embracing conversion and the Holy Spirit’s work in recovery, we’ll show you some new tech tools being used to help people move from destructive behaviors to healthy choices. One particular tool employs a peer-driven community to encourage interactions between substance abusers, missions, and professionals. It’s powered by an AI system that measures recovery and suggests the best next steps for treatment.

Constructing the Perfect CEO for the Next Decade
Search Firms and HR Panel
We are in the midst of a massive turnover of leadership in Christian organizations. Some boards are looking for a new version of their last CEO...without success. The forces that have molded current generations are producing leaders very different from who’s been at the helm in the past—but there are ways to ensure that core competencies aren’t lost and values don’t change. See how to ensure you have a great next leader.

9:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Saturday Morning General Session and Brunch    
Here’s your last chance to get in on the networking and other fun components of our conference, plus worship one more time together as a group. Dan and Sandy Adler will set the stage for that. Our closing speaker is the increasingly popular Jo Saxton, a leadership coach and speaker about whom it’s been said, “Jo is that rare combination of blow-your-hair-back Bible teaching and irresistible winsomeness.” You won’t want to miss this!

12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Local Ministry Tours (on your own)
If you need to go home later today but still have a bit of time to see some local ministries, we’ll have a list for you to look at. Places like Church Under the Bridge, San Antonio Rescue Mission, Life Restored, and Salvation Army Elmira Street Center are all relatively close to downtown and worth seeing.


1:00 p.m. - Whenever
Sea World District Splash!        
It’s the weekend. It’s San Antonio. You gotta stick around. And here’s a big reason why: We can get you into Sea World with a meal under the pavilions for just $39 per person. With such a great place and such a good deal, we decided to make this an add-on event that’s district focused. Each Citygate Network district president and/or vice-president will lead their “family” through the park to not just enjoy the exhibits and show, but to go deeper on a personal level and talk about local collaboration possibilities. So book your flight home on Sunday. You can still be back to work on Monday. Your district president will be in touch!