HOUSTON—EQUIP, the one-day church training event sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, will return in-person this summer. While the 2019 EQUIP conference saw 2,500 attending, the 2020 event was held fully online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EQUIP 2021 promises to be back better and bigger than ever on August 14 at Champion Forest Baptist Church, 15555 Stuebner Airline Road in Houston.
“We will have 300 breakouts this year with over 100 different expert speakers,” Mark Yoakum, SBTC director of the event, told the TEXAN.
At only ten dollars per person, which includes lunch, EQUIP is a bargain by any estimation.
“It’s so affordable, basically the cost of lunch,” said Charles Draper, associate pastor of families and discipleship at Spring Baptist Church.
Spring Baptist brought large groups to EQUIP in 2017 and 2019, Draper told the TEXAN. “The fact that we had more than 80 both years says our folks saw value in the equipping for ministry that the SBTC EQUIP conference provides.”
Draper noted the benefits that leaders in all age group ministries—from preschool to senior adult—can receive from training at EQUIP. Children’s leaders, life group leaders, Bible study teachers, ministry directors or coordinators: all can acquire ministry tools at the conference.
“My opinion is that EQUIP is the best ministry training and equipping the SBTC offers, especially for Sunday School and small group ministry,” Draper said.
In addition to the quality of training, Draper said that it is also encouraging to join together with those from other churches engaged in the same work of sharing the gospel.
“We share ideas in breakout sessions and learn from one another as well as from the speakers in each session,” he said. EQUIP also “gets our folks connected to a network of ministry leaders and training resources for further leadership development.”
Neal Livingston, Spring Baptist children’s minister, echoed Draper’s sentiments, noting that EQUIP encourages leaders by allowing them to “think beyond just the four walls of a classroom or church setting.” He added that EQUIP also promotes “ongoing relationship building with others on the same journey of caring deeply for the local church.”
In short, EQUIP is a most worthwhile bargain for ministry tools, ideas and networking.
George Ohmstede, pastor of First Baptist Church Dayton, said he, his wife, and staff members have attended EQUIP twice and watched online as well. While he will be leaving soon for another pastorate, Ohmstede confirmed that FBC Dayton plans to return to EQUIP this year.
“It’s a great resource,” Ohmstede told the TEXAN of EQUIP, especially noting the help he had received in revitalization at FBC Dayton.
“By using resources from the EQUIP conference, we were able to see growth take place and unity take place, and we are leaving with a healthy environment in place for the next guy to be able to come and build upon,” Ohmstede said.
EQUIP enabled Ohmstede to see “how everybody else was doing things and to gain knowledge and wisdom, and to be able to take what works for us and use that [at Dayton].”
EQUIP 2021 will feature Ronnie Floyd, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, as keynote speaker. Breakout sessions will run the gamut from preschool, children’s, student and collegiate ministries to adult, senior adult and multiethnic ministries. Training will be offered in more than 20 ministry areas including church technology, evangelism, missions, church planting, worship, chaplaincy, next gen and leadership.
Lay leaders, deacons, teachers, Bible study leaders, pastors: EQUIP has something for everyone who desires to make a difference in the church.
EQUIP runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 14.