Real-Life Parents focuses on … real life.

Join us Saturday, April 30, 9:00 AM–1:00 PM on the Rolling Meadows Campus. Real Life Families, a new ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel, has brought together a variety of real-life workshops including nationally known experts and Harvest’s own subject matter experts for a one-day event open to everyone, from everywhere.

You have the opportunity to create your own day of what you need for this season and the next season. Look through our offerings and then register for your top three workshops. The cost is $15 per person and includes lunch. Childcare is available for $10 per child for children 12-years-old and under.

From gender issues to the first five years of life, from nurturing children in a sexually charged world to keeping your marriage intact during parenthood, from creating a successful stepfamily to the anxiety epidemic, and more. There is something for everyone, even adults who are thinking about becoming parents. It’s never too late or too early to learn.


Gender and Identity—Finding Hope and Help in Jesus || Patti Height
Patti Height is not a licensed counselor. The advice she offers is based solely on biblical guidelines and her own personal experience. Patti’s goal is to come alongside the body of Christ to help them understand the people of the LGBT community as well as cultural issues so the church can be better equipped to minister to them with both grace and truth.

Creating a Successful Stepfamily || Gayla Grace
Uniting two families into one is hard work, and stepfamily dynamics can complicate everyday life. Gayla Grace offers tips and encouragement to help build healthy stepfamily relationships and create marital oneness while navigating unique variables such as stepparenting, leftover grief, unrealistic expectations, co-parenting, disharmony, loyalty conflict, holiday strife, and more.

Co-Parenting with Confidence || Gayla Grace
Children need healthy relationships with both parents after divorce, which requires good co-parenting. Gayla Grace shares how to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation in order to co-parent well with a former spouse. (Offered only at Session 1)

Parenting and Sports || Dr. Jeff Bucknam
Sports parents who also live as followers of Jesus Christ face unique challenges. This workshop provides practical, biblical ways to affirm and support your kids while maintaining your testimony for Jesus on and off the sidelines. 

Keeping Your Marriage || Dr. Jeff Bucknam
Whether you’ve been married five years or twenty years, it takes commitment, forgiveness, grace, and laughter to keep your marriage for God’s glory. Come hear what we’ve learned (some of it the hard way!), a few things that work for us, and most importantly, what God’s Word says about keeping your marriage. (Offered only at Session 2) 

Parenting in a Trans-Everywhere World: Identity Crisis and Opportunity || Kyle Meeker
This breakout session will provide some background (How did we get here?), and it will provide some help (What shall we do?). As a culture, we have crowned biological men as Women of the Year. Even closer to home, there is constant pressure to either claim an LGBTQ+ identity or, at minimum, to celebrate those who do. Amid this identity crisis, there is a great opportunity for a truly fulfilling identity: In Christ.

Watchful Parenting in a Digital World || Richard Wistocki
The ever-changing digital world can be daunting and dangerous.  How do parents know where to begin? If these are uncharted waters for you, spend an hour learning the basics of the digital world and a few legal points that will help you to navigate the digital world better.

Learning to Be a Spiritual Leader at Home || Tommy Creutz
Growing up in a two-parent home, one of my parents chose to follow the Lord and through that experience, I had to find my own to be a godly father. Many of the impactful things I learned were from my Christian mother and this is the journey of how I learned to be a spiritual leader.

Helping Kids Become Adults Who Love Jesus and Live for Him || Brit Gilman
Raising kids to become adults who love Jesus and live for Him is a difficult calling. Join the Gilman Family (Brit, Renee, Moriah, and Jordan) for an authentic conversation from the parent’s and young adults’ perspectives. You’ll be sure to hear about the good, the bad, and plenty of LOL. Come and be encouraged that you’re not alone in the journey, and leave with tools to shepherd your child’s heart.

Striving to Raise Unselfish Kids || Dave Learned
Everyone is wired to be selfish and kids are no different!  We will look at God’s Word for His perspective on selfishness, and offer practical ideas to lead your kids to grow in their love and service to the Lord, resulting in them loving and serving others too!

Everything I Did Wrong Before Kindergarten || Jennifer Abbatacola
There are many good books written about how to parent children in the first five years of their lives. I thought an hour of hearing all my mistakes may be helpful. Learning from others’ mistakes redeems those moments and passes on invaluable wisdom that is only gained through experience. So, I am going to share with you everything I did wrong, and if I could go back and redo it, I most certainly would do so. From my heart, my biggest mistakes, I share with you.

Workshop Leaders

Jennifer Abbatacola
Jennifer serves as the Senior Director of Harvest Kids focusing on the first decade of a child’s life. Serving the neighborhoods and communities of Chicagoland, Jennifer leads a team ministering to children and volunteers. Partnering with parents and grandparents to raise healthy adults provides her with the honor of serving on staff for 15 years. Jennifer has been entrusted with five children of her own and has been parenting for 30 years. You can find Jenn on Instagram @jenniferababatacola and Facebook @jenniferswansonabbatacola

Dr. Jeff Bucknam
Serving as the Lead Teaching Pastor of Harvest, we welcome Dr. Jeff Bucknam. He holds a double B.A. in history and communications from Western Washington University; an M.Th. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to coming to Harvest in 2021, he was the Lead Pastor at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. He’s married to Jeanne (for almost 28 years!) and they’re the parents of two sons and a daughter who all play sports.

Tommy Creutz
Pastor Tommy serves as the NextGen Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel where he oversees ministry for junior high students through young adults. He and his wife Kelly have two young children.

Brit Gilman
Brit and Renee have been married for 25 years and are the parents of two young adult children, Moriah (20) and Jordan (19). Brit has served in ministry for over 20 years, focusing a lot of his time on discipling children, teens, and parents. Renee is a chiropractic physician, caring for people for 27 years. Brit and Renee are first-generation Christians, which means they have a lot of empathy for moms and dads who are trying to navigate the highs and lows of parenting. Together they bring a passion for helping other parents shepherd their children’s hearts toward a relationship with God.

Gayla Grace
Gayla Grace serves on staff with FamilyLife Blended® as a writer and a speaker and desires to equip blended families for life together. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Counseling and is the author of Stepparenting with Grace: A Devotional for Blended Families and co-author of Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. She and her husband Randy have been married 26 years and have five children in their “his, hers, and ours” family.

Patti Height
Patti Height began Out of Egypt Ministries in 2006 as a Ministry of Calvary Old Bridge. Today, the ministry has evolved into its own nonprofit organization focused on the equipping of the body of Christ to minister to those who identify as part of the LGBT community. As the speaking ministry of Patti Height, Out of Egypt is a platform to share her message. Her goal is: To equip Christians via the local church and other venues to reach out and minister to the LGBT community; as well as those within the church who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion, with the love and truth of the Gospel. Follow Patti on Instagram @heightpatti.

Dave Learned
Dave and Diane started attending Harvest in 1996, and are blessed to have four daughters (ages 12 to 18).  Diane joined Harvest staff first as an administrative assistant and then on the Harvest Kids staff before staying home with the girls.  Dave started as an intern at Harvest in 1999 and now serves as a Care Pastor, seeking to help each campus to offer the tools and training that will help our church family to care for each other well.  Diane is now a stay-at-home mom who also works as a business manager.  They have recently given into the wishes of their girls, and are planning to add a puppy to the mix soon!

Dr. Kyle Meeker
Dr. Kyle Meeker serves as the Pastor of Leadership and Development at HBC and is a recent transplant to Chicagoland. Kyle and his wife have two kids, grades 10 and 5, and a new puppy. Over the years, Kyle’s teaching has ranged from children’s church to college and seminary classrooms, from churches and seminars with church planters overseas to a symposium with multiple religions represented. Regardless of the context, Christ’s clarity is forefront. Jesus is the resurrected King and returning Savior! And only the Triune God satisfies: in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Such a relationship is needed all the more in our society’s current cultural confusion and despair.

Richard Wistocki
Child crime expert Detective Richard Wistocki has dedicated his career to helping children by tirelessly pursuing, apprehending and prosecuting child predators.  As an active Cyber Crimes Detective he educates Law Enforcement using cutting edge investigative techniques and Parents and Students on responsible digital activity.