RICHARDSON—“We have the power of Jesus in us, and we have a generation in front of us that wants to change the world,” Mark Matlock, president of Wisdom Works Ministries told attendees of the 2019 Texas Baptists Conclave conference.
Conclave is designed to offer training and networking opportunities for youth, family and NextGen ministers from around the state. Participants heard from nationally-known speakers such as Matlock and Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO of Orange, about how to raise a generation of resilient disciples. Jane Wilson, youth discipleship specialist for Texas Baptists and Conclave’s coordinator, recruited renowned speakers to ensure that conference participants had access to high-quality resources and training.
During his sessions, Matlock explained that if churches do not disciple their youth and children, society and technology will do it instead. He encouraged those in attendance to disciple their youth and children by first getting to know them personally. They want to feel that they are truly understood and valued, and it is only after that trust has been established that they will be open to spiritual guidance.
The conference, which took place Oct. 14-16 at First Baptist Richardson, also featured breakout sessions led by a variety of ministers and specialists. These sessions gave attendees the opportunity to explore in-depth topics designed to further their ministries.
A common theme among many of the breakout sessions was collaboration between ministries. One such workshop was “Ideas for Multi-Generational Ministry,” led by the minister to families at First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Cory Liebrum.
Liebrum spoke on fostering strong bonds between different age-groups within the church. Doing so creates a familial sense at the church and allows different groups to glean wisdom and advice from the others. He focused on practical examples of how churches can accomplish this, explaining that one of his favorite parts about Conclave is leaving with new, concrete ideas for ministry.
“What I love about Conclave is that it doesn’t matter what size your church, youth group or ministry is… you can get hands-on training and take something back to your ministry,” Liebrum explained.
He suggested having senior adults sponsor youth by praying for them during mission trips and making them care packages. The youth could, in turn, teach technology classes or host dinners to give back to the adults.
Another breakout session focused on collaboration was led by Walter Ballou, student pastor at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. His session, entitled “The Hand-Off: Effectively Moving Age Groups from One Ministry to the Next,” taught family ministers how to work together to ensure that students have smooth transitions throughout their time in church. Failing to do so, Ballou explained, could lead students to slip out of the ministry.
Ballou encouraged family ministers to create a consistent message or mission statement that is reiterated in all age-groups, from preschool to high school ministry. By working together and compromising, the different ministries will build a strong foundation for the students to base their faith on.
Worship sessions were led by Jimmy McNeal, worship leader at Austin Stone Community Church, and Conclave pastor Delvin Atchison, pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Lewisville. Atchison encouraged participants, reminding them of the importance of their work in the lives of students.
“God has a purpose for your life,” he said. “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not important… because there are lives you’re touching.”
Reggie Joiner closed the conference, speaking at Tuesday night’s worship session and conducting a workshop on Wednesday morning. Like Matlock, Joiner emphasized building genuine bonds with the youth, children and preschoolers. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate that God is personal, and ministers should follow Jesus’ model, Joiner explained.
He spoke on Zacchaeus’s story in Luke, saying that Jesus’ ability to see Zacchaeus as a loved child of God changed Zacchaeus’s life. Likewise, family ministers can have a huge impact on the students they teach.
“The way you see the kids and teenagers changes the way the whole community sees them, and how they see themselves,” Joiner explained. “What you do matters because everyone needs somebody who sees them like Jesus does.”