Equipping the Church to Reach the Lost
Over 200 church leaders gathered in Dickson, Tennessee, August 8-9, 2019, for the second Equip Conference sponsored by Compassion Network and Evangelism USA. With a focus on equipping the local church to reach the lost effectively, the conference provided practical church growth models and examples.
The host church, Compassion Dickson, demonstrated excellence through their connections ministry as they welcomed guests in the parking lot, greeted everyone with a smile, provided snacks, and exceptional service. In the last three years, the church has grown from an average attendance of 400 to 1,300 each week. They attribute much of their growth to the implementation of the church revitalization principles modeled at the Equip Conference.
Host Pastor Jamie Grisham opened the conference Thursday evening with encouragement from Luke 5:1-3. He stated that leaders must overcome five fears—decisions, conflict, fallout, success, and change. According to Pastor Jamie, “There are times when we are on the sidelines washing our nets when we should be launching into the deep.” To reach the lost, we must be willing to overcome our fears and make decisions that move ministry forward.
In the morning session, Pastor Hans Hess from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, emphasized the importance of creating a revival culture in the local church. Hess says that systems are important for a church to grow and sustain a move of God; however, he also encouraged leaders to “open the windows of your church and allow the Holy Spirit to move in His power.”
Church growth strategist, Conrad Lowe, taught on the importance of developing a team and teaching leadership skills, not task accomplishment. He emphasized that each person must know their place on the team and work together, “You play your note, and the Master pianist will play the rest. If you don’t play your note, the Master will not play His.”
Focusing on the “nuts and bolts” of church leadership and revitalization, Equip challenged leaders to think outside the box and try new strategies and systems. Breakout sessions provided practical ministry training focused on Worship (Samantha Newcomb), Students (David Lopez), Kids (Katelyn Hefta), Connections (Tanner Gregory), Storytelling (Bill Rose), and Hope Center Ministries with Carson Plant and Jeremy Parker.
On Friday afternoon, attendees had the opportunity to tour the Waverly and McEwen, Tennessee, Hope Center campuses. Founded in 2007, Hope Center Ministries is a Christian-based 12-step program for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Through a 3-phase program, residents can move from addiction to a stable and sober assimilation into society. Hope Center Ministries is not only focused on sobriety but finding lasting freedom through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They currently have 15 campuses worldwide and plan to open five more facilities in 2019.
In the closing session, Pastor Josh Hannah, national consultant for Church Revitalization and Multiplication for Evangelism USA, spoke from Matthew 11 and challenged leaders to follow the example of John the Baptist and prepare the way for another (v. 10). By developing others, leaders can accomplish a God-sized vision. According to Pastor Josh, “Doing it yourself can at best do addition; doing it together brings multiplication.”
During the conference, local church pastors were encouraged, inspired, and challenged to reach the lost and build systems and structures for sustainable church growth. According to Bishop Garry Bryant, “The Equip Conference was a quality opportunity to receive powerful and practical training for the increased impact of the local church and Arise 2033.”
Evangelism USA and Compassion Network plan to hold three Equip conferences in 2020. Please visit their website for more information.