LEAD Conference prepares Texas students for local church ministry
May 2nd, 2019 / By: Tobin Perry / comments
ARLINGTON When high school student Payton Mixon arrived at last year’s LEAD Conference, she knew what to expect because it was her third consecutive year attending the conference sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She hoped she’d get practical leadership skills to take back to her church, where she leads worship.
But it was even better than she thought.
“I ended up absolutely loving it,” said Mixon, 17, who attends First Baptist Church of Porter. “It was great.”
Mixon specifically learned about the power of prayer, along with honing vocal skills she has applied all year to her ministry at FBC Porter.
This summer Mixon is joining students from all over Texas at the 2019 LEAD Conference, July 8-12 at Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington. The conference is for high school students serving in leadership in their youth ministry or in their church. The conference has three tracks—worship, worship technology and leadership. All the tracks focus on practical leadership skills for students and are designed to help students grow regardless of their experience level.
“I’ve been a part of this event for a long time,” said Curtis James, who serves as the family pastor at Tate Springs and as the conference director. “I’ve never seen an event have such a profound effect on the lives of students, in the sense that we equip students to go back and serve right now. We don’t just teach them about leadership in some vacuum somewhere, but we want to teach them to be leaders in their church under the authority that God has placed them under.”
The conference started as a tool to train youth worship leaders but has expanded to worship technology and general leadership in recent years. Students in the worship track learn how to plan and lead worship, along with improving their instrumental skills. During the week, students will learn about worship theology, worship planning and design, song evaluation, leading and rehearsing a band and instrumental technique. Specific instrumental breakout classes include piano/keyboard, guitar, bass and drums. Students get an opportunity to use what they’re learning by leading worship throughout the week.
They also learn how to do sound, lighting, video projections and software systems within the worship-technology track. By the end of the week, students in this track will be equipped to serve in technology roles within their church.
The leadership track employs Christian leadership principles, apologetics, evangelism and Christian worldview to prepare students to lead. Students apply these lessons by planning ministry activities throughout the week. Specific mini-tracks within leadership include youth ministry and missions.
Although the conference has three distinct tracks, students have opportunities to take classes in other tracks. Throughout the week, students are mentored by practitioners with years of ministry leadership experience.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Mixon said. “Even if someone doesn’t think they’re ready for it, it’s an amazing learning opportunity that will help you grow closer to Christ and challenge you in your ministry.”
James describes the week as intense. While there is free time built in, many of the students choose to take additional classes during that time.
“It’s a lot of work. It requires a lot of the students who come so that we can equip them,” James said. “We’re more serious about what we are doing, and we want students who are serious about their faith and leading out. I think it’s one of our best-kept secrets because there are no other events in the country like what we do—providing students not just practical teaching but actual opportunities to put what they’re learning into action.”
James’ son, Mason, attended last year’s conference. He said he learned a lot about playing the guitar that has helped him in the youth worship band. He also participated in an apologetics class during his free time that helped him discover what other people believe so he can share his faith more effectively.
“When he came back from the LEAD Conference, due to his confidence, he’s been able to be on the stage at our main service, playing guitar and singing sometimes because our worship leader saw so much potential in him,” James said.
James added that several students at his church who participated last year have played instruments or have sung in the main worship service, as well as the youth service.
There are a limited number of spots available for the LEAD Conference. Students can attend individually or as part of their youth group. To find out more about the conference or to register, visit sbtexas.com/lead. The general registration deadline is July 1.