CONROE?Billed as “training for the entire church,” the SBTC’s Church Leadership Conference drew more than 400 ministers and laymen to Mims Baptist Church in Conroe Aug. 23 for a variety of classroom sessions on the many facets of local church ministry.
The session topics, ranging from apologetics to deacon ministry to marriage and family, featured 21 different speakers from churches and denominational ministries.
“Among the myriad of leadership books and conferences available today, there is often a shortage of practical training for leaders,” said Lance Crowell, SBTC church ministries associate who led a session on ministry to young adults. “What the Church Leadership Conference does is it provides leaders with a multitude of ideas and practical takeaways?the nuts and bolts?to adapt to their local church context.”
For example, Crowell’s session drew about 50 people?pastors and laymen alike?who were interested in learning more about how to keep young adults, whom studies say drift from church involvement in their 20s, active in the local church.
“It’s a genuine problem in our churches right now?how to help young adults navigate their way without separating themselves from the fellowship of local churches?and several important books touch on the subject, including one from Thom Rainer of LifeWay called “Essential Church.”
Pastor Ray Hyden of three-year-old New Covenant Baptist Church in Conroe said the conference was valuable to him and two members of his church.
“The most important thing to us is that the classes were well done, but there is also follow-up we can do by connecting with speakers who are often willing to come and share their wisdom and knowledge with the local church,” said Hyden, who said he attended last year and plans to attend again.
Hyden said he went to a financial management class led by SBTC church ministries consultant Bob Ecklund because his church is seeking land to build a worship center. New Covenant meets in a Conroe public school, he said, and land in that area north of Houston sometimes sells for $1 million per acre.
“Our church has done very well,” Hyden said. “It’s slow growth; we’re running around 60 now on a good Sunday but we do really well for a church our size in supporting missions and outside mission work. The Lord has been good to help us save quite a bit of money, but we need to build a building.
“One of our men went to the men’s ministry session and to the deacon training. The deacon session talked about how men could support the pastor in their church. These are things we can take back and apply in our setting.”
Longtime Houston pastor John Morgan encouraged those in the plenary session of the conference to focus on the gospel work of the church and to avoid unnecessary focus on differences of opinion on issues of style and taste.
Morgan, who for more than 40 years has led Sagemont Church in Houston, reminded the audience that God not only called us out to save us but to commission us for service.
“He called us out to use our spiritual gifts. He called us out to do together things that we can’t do separately?things like Sunday School and Vacation Bible Schools and associations and state and national conventions. That’s all part of the overall plan of God. But along the way we need to remember that we’re all one of a kind. Everybody has their own DNA, physically and spiritually.”
When it comes to preferences in the church, Christians need to yield to one another, he said.
“Everywhere I go I want to say, ‘Stop that nonsense. That’s a matter of choice regarding what kind of music you like, as long as it honors God and the Word and it lifts up Jesus. But every generation is different. We to need to wake up to a real world.”
Instead, Morgan said, we need to do what Jesus likes, and “Jesus likes to see people saved. He likes to see people working in one accord. Did you hear that churches? In one accord.”
Jim Wolfe, church ministries director, said he received very positive responses about the conference.
“Our host church not only provided great facilities, their choir and orchestra set the mood for the day,” Wolfe said. “Dr. John Morgan gave us a word of challenge and throughout the day in our breakout sessions leaders not only gave practical help for various areas of ministries but gave encouragement and a joy for their respective ministries as church leaders returned home.”
The next Church Leadership Conference will be at First Baptist Church of Forney on Aug. 15, 2009. The theme for next year is “Lifestyle Leadership” and the keynote speaker will be Chuck Kelly, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
For more information on SBTC church ministries resources, visit sbtexas.com/cm.