by Travis Irwin

MT. JULIET, Tenn.  (BNc) — “Could we have a conference like this every six months?” one participant asked.

Another stated, “I would pay many times over what this conference cost me; it is that valuable.”

One suggested, “I think there needs to be a lab that can prevent minister burnout.”

Such were part of the conversations of those who attended the first annual EQUIP Conference Mar. 26-27 at the Mt. Juliet, Tenn., church.

Jonathan Pettus is the involvement minister at Mt. Juliet. I called him about a year ago and inquired of brotherhood seminars and workshops for involvement ministers. He knew of none. Jonathan suggested that we have our own.

Jonathan and I asked four other involvement ministers to join us in organizing an event designed specifically for involvement ministers in churches of Christ. It was decided that we would call it “The EQUIP Conference.”

An involvement minister equips members of the church for service.  He helps them discover their God-given gifts and helps them develop them and deploy them.

While the idea of involvement ministers (IMs) is relatively new to churches of Christ, we found that there are many highly qualified and educated IMs in the Lord’s church.

Twelve men were selected to lead discussions on the most relevant topics to IMs. The topics ranged from involvement software to evaluations, from assessments to empowerment, from promoting ministries to engaging new members in ministry.

On Friday afternoon of the conference, there were 70 people enrolled to attend. Many more came that were not enrolled bringing the total to well over one hundred participants. They came from Oklahoma, Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and other states. Participants included evangelists, elders, involvement ministers, church education ministers, deacons, college students and their wives.

James Waugh was the keynote speaker. We learned that the church doesn’t have a mission: God does. God calls the church to join him to fulfill his promise made to Abraham (to bless all nations). We also learned that the final goal of the lost is not the church, but to send them back to the world to reach the lost.

The conference lab leaders used state of the art technology in the new classrooms of the Mt. Juliet church. All labs were recorded and DVDs and CDs are available at our website.

The response to the effort has been overwhelmingly positive and everyone is looking forward to the conference the last weekend of March, 2011.

Editor’s Note: Travis Irwin is the involvement minister at the Athens church. He may be contacted by email or by phone at 423-920-3060.