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Church leaders gather ministry tips in Phoenix

[SLIDESHOW=45392,45393]PHOENIX (BP) — So what? That’s the question Rob Tims says he tries to answer right away when he leads a small group.

Tims, a manager in groups ministry, and his colleagues at LifeWay Christian Resources led 18 drop-in training sessions over three days to give practical skills and ideas to church leaders. The training was held June 12-14 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

“We’re trying to provide help to churches — not just educating them on resources but educating on practice as well,” said Jon Emery, director of marketing for LifeWay’s resources division.

Topics included levels of biblical learning, discipleship strategies, kids’ ministry, and creating a gospel culture in the church.

“All the topics are touching on our core curriculum lines in some way, whether it’s philosophically or in some cases actually drilling down into a product itself,” said Aaron Armstrong, brand manager for The Gospel Project.

SBC messengers and guests drifted over to listen as the presentations in the open space of the exhibit hall caught their attention.

“This is valuable information,” said Gwendolyn James, attending the meeting with her husband Kevin James, pastor of New Creation Bible Fellowship in Tracy, Calif.

She appreciated the in-person learning experience. “I don’t get that at home, and if it’s online it’s harder to absorb it,” she said.

After the training, she and others gathered in twos and threes with LifeWay leaders to get more ideas. The impromptu discussion after Tims’ session focused on creating trust within a small group.

“Trust is the foundation for vulnerability and authenticity,” Tims said. “So we spent some time talking about how to build trust and create an environment where people feel free to talk about how God is working in their life.”

Afterward, James said she’d probably return for the next session. An hour later, she was listening to LifeWay’s Matt Morris lead a session on discipleship.

“I like the new stuff that’s coming out,” she said. “I love the new teaching styles, so that’s what I came for — to get something fresh, innovative, something new. And I did.”