The Team

James Bryan Smith, Executive Director

Dr. James Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School; DMin Fuller Seminary) is the Executive Director of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith is currently a theology professor at Friends University, in Wichita, Kansas, and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He is the author of ten books, most notably The Apprentice Series (InterVarsity Press), which continue to shape the work of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith’s other titles include Devotional Classics (with Richard J. Foster), Embracing the Love of God, Room of Marvels, and Hidden in Christ.  His next book, The Magnificent Story, will be published in August of 2017, the first book in a new trilogy.  The two other books in the trilogy (The Magnificent Journey, and The Magnificent Mission) will be published in the Fall of 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Keas Keasler , Director of the Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation

Keas Keasler is the program director of the Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership and a theology professor at Friends University. Previously he was the teaching pastor of Rhythm Church in Miami, Florida, a non-denominational church he co-founded in 2010. He has his B.A. from Baylor University, M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology. Keas has done extension work in the areas of spiritual formation and missiology, presented at various conferences around the country, and serves on the board of the Ecclesia Network, a missional network of churches and leaders in North America. Ordained as a Baptist minister, Keas has a deep love for the global church, having traveled and done mission work in over forty countries and preached on six continents.

John Carroll, Assistant Director of Adult Learning

John oversees the Apprentice Experience, an 18-month certification experience in Christian Spiritual Formation for clergy and laity. With a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary, John brings a unique blend of experience (11 years in corporate recruiting, 4 years in local church) to the Apprentice Institute. John is happily married to his wife, Amber, and together they have two children, Aidan and Amelia. In his free time, John enjoys reading, watching football and spending time with family and friends.


Kara Yuza, Coordinator, Programming & Logistics

Holding a B.A. in Religion & Philosophy with an emphasis in Christian spiritual formation from Friends University and a B.A. in communications and public relations from Wichita State University, Kara is the Coordinator of Programming & Logistics for the Apprentice Institute. She served in local church education ministry for over a decade before joining the Apprentice team. Her specialty is in connecting with others and helping them see how God is working in their lives.


Carissa Reynolds, Recruiting Coordinator

Carissa Reynolds is the Recruiting Coordinator for Apprentice Institute. She graduated from Friends University with a B.S. in Psychology & Human Services and Christian Spiritual Formation. Carissa has served in worship ministry for over five years and currently serves as the worship pastor at The 316 Church in Wichita, KS. She volunteers as a family mentor with the International Rescue Committee. She is passionate about helping individuals learn about and experience life in the Kingdom of God, teaching others how to tell their story and journey towards Christlikeness, and connecting and unifying people groups from different cultures and countries.


Good and Beautiful Conference
Ministry Team

Matt Johnson

– Matthew Johnson is a contemplative pilgrim stumbling along the path that is Jesus the Christ. His primary calling is to the practice of spiritual direction, helping others listen for God’s guidance in their lives. Matthew is the director of spiritual formation for SoCe Life a non-profit organization focused on strengthening the South Central neighborhood of Wichita, KS, by building relationships and inviting people to share their gifts and skills. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Friends University. In 2009, Matthew wrote the leader’s guide for the Apprentice Series of books (The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community). Prior to working with SoCe Life, Matthew served at the Andover United Methodist Church as the assistant minister for 15 years. He and his wife, Catherine recently hiked the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile spiritual pilgrimage across Spain.

Deidre Franklin

– Pastor of Spiritual Formation, Crossings Community Church, Oklahoma City, OK



Back to top

Sign Up

Nam ut dolor at erat dignissim pellentesque. Aliquam erat volutpat.