Equip is a one-day ministry training conference for teens and adults who believe God is calling them into ministry. Equip was started in 2015 to address a need for further ministry training that existed in many of our local churches throughout southern and central Ohio. A movement had started in the late 90’s to train young men who sensed God’s call into the ministry inside the local churches, rather than sending them away to Bible College. At that time, there was also a strong fellowship of churches who were willing to financially get on board to support these young preachers when they began to plant churches. God’s blessing was all over this movement, and the more churches were planted, the more the Lord seemed to call young men into the ministry.
Throughout the late 90’s and up until 2015, there had been a rapid increase in churches that had planted and were actively training men for ministry. It wasn’t an anti-Bible College movement. However, the reality was most of our young men and women who went away for training seldom came back to work in or advance the church they had grown up in. From experience, we found the Paul and Timothy approach had many benefits to it.
- The pastors knew their Timothys were being taught biblically.
- The concern over outside influences undermining sound doctrine was reduced.
- The men were able to continue doing ministry inside their local churches. This practical training cannot be duplicated in a classroom setting.
- The churches had men who were perfect fits for staff positions since they were doctrinally and philosophically on the same page.
- The churches were able to retain many of those men and their families for future staff positions.
- The men were able to plant churches without any additional debt associated with their ministry training.
It was a win-win. However, three realities were apparent to the training pastors.
#1 – If we are going to keep them, we’re going to have to train them.
#2 –If we are going to keep them and train them, we’re going to have to step up in our ability to train them.
#3 – If we are going to keep them and train them, we’re going to have to step up in our ability to train them, and we could benefit from other pastors who excelled in areas that weren’t our specific strength.
As a result, we looked around the state of Ohio and recognized God had given us pastors who were very strong in areas where we lacked. Some pastors were especially strong at teaching doctrine. Others were extremely gifted in leadership and administration, while others were extremely strong in the areas of evangelism, discipleship, practical wisdom, or teen/children’s ministries.
All it would take to benefit from each other’s strengths would be mutual cooperation. We could set up a yearly meeting where we could invite pastors from around Ohio to teach and preach in the area of their strength. Speaking personally, I would love to have every current and future staff member listen to Pastor Kelly McInerney teach about leadership, Pastor Jeremy Stout teach on evangelism, Pastor Dan Lamb on loving people and balancing ministry with family, Pastor Josh Bevan on discipleship, Pastor Ryan Bevan on church administration, Pastor Ted House on being a great staff member, and Pastor Wally Miller on doctrine. Those are just a few of the men God has placed in our state. There are many more.
We made a few calls, and thus was the beginning of Equip in 2015. For the first meeting, we hoped 30 or 40 might show up. We ended up with 60+. The second year, by the grace of God, we had over 100. We added classes (taught by pastor’s wives) specifically geared towards encouraging young women and began to reach around 200. We wanted to reach as many as we could, especially in their teens and twenties, so we scheduled most of the meetings on Saturdays to avoid many of the normal conflicts like school and work. Since its beginning, it has been nothing but a blessing.
To get a better idea of what is taking place, here is a look at Equip’s general structure and some of the topics that have been covered in the past.