Luter, Brunson, Reavis headline first afternoon of Empower Conference 

IRVING—Next month’s Empower Conference will kick off on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 24, with one of the most diverse slates of plenary speakers and workshop sessions of any Christian leadership conference in the country in 2020.  

“There’s literally something for everyone,” said Shane Pruitt, who is the next-gen evangelism director at the North American Mission Board and is coordinating the conference on behalf of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “During that time, you have the Classics session going on with the music of Charles Billingsley. You have the preaching of Mac Brunson, Herb Reavis, and Fred Luter. That alone is a whole conference, those four guys.”

As Brunson, Reavis and Luter preach at the Classics session, author Jen Wilkin will lead the women’s session. Eleven different breakout sessions will take place at that time as well. All of the training during the two-day conference is designed to help Texas Southern Baptist church leaders be more effective in evangelism, missions and missional living.

The conference is supported through Cooperative Program gifts and costs nothing for attendees, who only need to pay for their meals. 

Fred Luter has served as the senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans since 1986. The New Orleans native became the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012. 

“He’s been so faithful through the years,” Pruitt said. “He’s a great preacher of the Word, a great illustrator, and he’s incredibly passionate and excitable. He will have you on your feet saying ‘amen’ without even realizing it.” 

Mac Brunson became the senior pastor of Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2018 after more than a decade as the lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.  He also has served as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. In 2003, he was the president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.

“Mac Brunson is an incredible expositor of Scripture and an incredible illustrator with stories,” Pruitt said. “He’s a guy that has ‘done it,’ so it’s not theory for him. The Lord has used him for a long time.”

Pruitt calls Herb Reavis a passionate, funny and inspiring preacher who makes listeners “want to run through a brick wall.” Reavis has been the pastor of North Jax Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1991.

Bible study teacher Jen Wilkin will lead the women’s session at Empower. Wilkin, who serves on the staff of The Village Church in Flower Mound, is the author of None Like Him, Women of the Word and In His Image, along with numerous Bible studies.

“She has the unique ability where all ages enjoy her, from the twenties on up,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s because she sticks so closely to the Word and explains the Scriptures really, really well.”

Pruitt also notes that a diverse slate of workshops will take place at the same time as well. 

“Some of those breakout teachers will also be teaching on the main stage,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s a unique opportunity. Twenty or 30 years ago, if you wanted to hear someone, you had to do it live. But now you can pull them up on YouTube. But what’s intriguing is that in a breakout you can sit in a small room with dozens of other people and be able to ask that speaker questions.”

The breakout sessions will be held in rooms that hold between 30 to 75 people. Some of the Monday afternoon breakout sessions include:

  • The High Impact Team: How to Attract and Motivate Young Leaders in this Changing World (Carey Nieuwhof) 
  • Pray Big Things: The Surprising Life God Has for You When You’re Bold Enough to Ask (Julia Sadler)
  • How to Reach Men with the Gospel (Ronnie Gaines)
  • Preaching and Teaching to the Next Generation (Grant Skeldon)
  • Reaching People Through Worship/Creative Arts (Logan Walter)

To register for the Empower Conference visit and to see a full schedule of the event, visit

TEXAN Correspondent
Tobin Perry
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