Annual Equip Conference aims to resource churches with tools, training for leaders of all types

Stronger servants, stronger kingdom

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s annual Equip Conference will be held July 27 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. The event will feature more than 200 breakout sessions and 90 speakers. Phil Todd, SBTC spiritual formations team leader, recently spoke with the Texan about the heart of the conference to serve the local church.

The Equip Conference is designed to resource churches by providing tools and training to anyone serving in the local church, including lay people. Why is it so important for the SBTC to offer this kind of training?

Phil Todd: It’s always great to be a learner, to continue to improve, to continue to sharpen your skills. Equip offers that opportunity at an individual level. A study in Georgia showed that churches that were engaged in regular ongoing training of their leaders were growing churches because they’re equipping their leaders to be the best  they can be. So Equip is a great opportunity for the SBTC to come alongside churches and provide training that hopefully they’ll be able to continue in their own context.

As you talk with leaders in SBTC churches, what are they communicating to you that they need in terms of training and how is Equip being responsive to that? 

PT: We meet with pastors in a lot of different settings and many of our breakout topics are driven by those conversations, such as how to teach a lesson or how to ask the best questions in a small group setting or a Sunday school setting. We’ve crafted several Equip breakouts that address that issue this year. We also have pastors who talk about equipping their people to defend their faith, so we have an apologetics track this year. Security issues always seem to be brought to the forefront due to the relevancy of that topic for our churches, so we always offer church security breakouts to better equip churches to secure their people and their facilities. We also get a lot of requests for training in the areas of children and preschool ministry, and I would say those tracks we offer at Equip are top-notch, as we have some of the top leaders from around the country coming in to lead breakouts.

I also want to mention that we have partnered with our missions department to expand our missions breakout trainings at Equip, and I think that will be instrumental in helping churches launch people out. We want to help churches learn how to partner in missions and send people on short-term and long-term mission trips. We’ve also partnered with our church planting team [Send Network SBTC] to offer training at Equip for churches on how to raise people up to be church planters.

What’s a growing area of interest in terms of training that might surprise some people? 

PT: The last two Equips we’ve had, the worship tracks have always drawn full rooms. So, we’ve expanded our worship ministry track this year. I’m excited about that. We have access to several breakout speakers who are really leading well in their areas of worship and allowing us to expand our worship ministry networks. These leaders are very effective at raising up the next generation of worship leaders, starting even at the preschool level, and they are even seeing students and youth equipped to lead in the main worship/praise band. Equipping church worship ministries can be a multi-generational approach, so we’re offering tracks along those lines about how to raise up that next generation.

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