The Conference Academy | Wednesday Breakouts

Defining Moments | Ted Pagel  (4th Grade Room)

Decisions define destiny. Making the right decisions, faith decisions, can expand God’s purpose and plan for our lives and shape the future that we live in. In this session, you will discover 3 key decisions that will affect your future, how to embrace the future God has for you, and how to move past the failures of the past. All of this creates a formula that is sure to bring victory in your life and ministry.

Ted Pagel Jr. is the founding pastor of Center Pointe Church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He is a respected Bible preacher, teacher, and leader on the Gulf Coast and in the Christian community. He is passionate and committed to seeing people reach their full potential in Christ. He is married to the love of his life, Tonia, and together, they have six children and eight grandchildren.

Unlocking Growth: 5 Trends Shaping the Local Church |Michael Scobey (Kids Sanctuary)

In the ever-evolving landscape of the Church, adaptation isn’t a choice; it’s imperative for relevance and impact. The mission itself is timeless and does not change. But this new era brings new challenges, and the needs of the people we are hoping to reach are changing. People are hungry for engagement, not entertainment. We must recognize that they crave deeper connections and meaningful interactions over passive observation. There are plenty of opportunities for the church to embrace adaptation, remain relevant, and expand our impact. But, what are the trends driving this transformative journey? 

In this breakout session, we’ll dive into the key shifts shaping church culture in 2024. Join us as we explore how these pivotal trends can inspire innovative systems that serve people more effectively, transforming our churches into vibrant hubs of spiritual growth, community engagement, and purposeful living.

Michael is a devoted family man, leader, and servant of the Kingdom. Born with a heart for people, he has dedicated his life to his family, empowering others, and helping them live God’s best for their lives. Michael and Carmen have been married for 18 years and have 3 incredible sons. Together in 2019, they planted Vibrant Church in The Woodlands, TX.

Building and Leading a Strong Team | Bryan & Ashley Larson (Room 403) 

Whether you are a senior leader or a volunteer, we will share proven principles that have been effective across ministries of all sizes. A team is essential for both your personal and organizational success, just as God intended from the start. By sharing transparent, real-life stories, we’ll provide practical ways to identify and cultivate the unique potential in each team member. The team you need may be closer than you think! You’ll gain insight into fostering a collaborative culture, which will help you maximize your influence, extend your reach, ensure team buy-in, and enjoy the journey together. No matter your destination, God has a plan to get you there faster and stronger through the power of TEAM.

With extensive experience in local churches and global ministries, Bryan & Ashley Larson have found success in developing leadership, building healthy teams, and facilitating church expansion. Their ministry is driven by a deep passion to enact change, leveraging every opportunity to impart faith in Jesus, whether on a stage or in a personal conversation.

Walking in Freedom as a Leader |Bishop Tom & Trina Lowe (Youth Auditorium)

We are excited to lead a session that deals with the freedom that Jesus purchased for us at the cross. We all celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in our everyday lives, but what is greater than freedom in the natural is the freedom that we can enjoy in every aspect of our spiritual lives. John 8:23 records Jesus’ words, “You will know the truth (the truth about God and the truth about yourself) and the truth will set you free.” Without even recognizing it, most of us live with some level of bondage to the past. Yes, Jesus died to set us free – but it is our duty to understand, embrace and walk in the freedom He has purchased for us. The Freedom Curriculum leads people out of every form of bondage into a life that is lived as a vessel of honor before God.

No matter where you may be on the timeline of your faith journey, this study will challenge you to move toward truth – about God, about your faith and about yourself. Think about it… life lived to the full, not just squeaking by, but flourishing in your faith. It means days filled with hope, joy and purpose. This is the kind of life God always intended.

Bishop Tom and Trina Lowe are the senior leaders of Christ Church in West Monroe, LA. They have been married for 46 years and have served the Christ Church family for the past 37 years. They have committed their lives to serving people, developing leaders and impacting succeeding generations.

A Simple Church Growth Plan: Growing a Church Through Engagement vs. Attendance Chasing | Paul Cook (3rd Grade Room)

 It might seem counterintuitive to stop chasing attendance, but whatever you do to achieve a crowd is what you’ve got to do to keep it. Attractional church can certainly work. People do it all the time. We all do it to some degree. However, doing resource heavy attractional church to your desired level of excellence may not be achievable or sustainable for you right now. That shouldn’t stop you from having a growing impact, nor should we cave to the temptation that we are not doing great work in people’s lives, because we haven’t achieved a look and feel that seems like the standard. Often, we ignore the tangible few to focus on the ambiguous many—in other words, you have people coming, but you miss it as valuable, because you are putting your faith in the big attendance days. Being faithful with the few as a first priority is measurable, sustainable, and scalable. You can grow appropriate to your current church size without chasing big attendance events. It is about pursuing the engagement of the few. It is stewarding the trickle of guests that are coming. This session shares a simple, proven plan for attracting guests and moving people from a visitor to an involved member. Learn how narrowing your primary ministry focus to engagement will lead to steady growth.

Paul Cook leads the Central Church staff in Plano, Texas. The church is ethnically diverse and passionately engaged in the mission of reaching typically inaccessible people with the Gospel (loving more people from more places). Julie Cook celebrates with him their family tribe that includes seven granddaughters.

Youth Breakout | Jarred Moss (Youth Loft)

Inspired sessions designed to engage and inspire young people with a passion for Christ and a hunger for revival.  This session has been specifically crafted by Jarred Moss and his team for students in 6th-12th grades. 

Jarred is the Assistant Pastor at The River Church in Searcy, AR where he grew up in the youth group and met then married his wife, Evelyn. Together, they led the youth ministry for 7 years and served as the assistant pastors for three years, while directing Destiny Youth. They have three beautiful daughters: Addison (9),Ella (5), and Vera James (3), and continue to grace a passion for the next generation of young people and youth pastors nationally and internationally.

The Conference Academy | Thursday Breakouts

Leading Strong Even When You Want to Quit | Micah Sutton (4th Grade Room)

This session explores the controversial idea that, while perseverance is key to success, there are times when quitting may be the right choice. Drawing from biblical examples like Elijah, Moses, and Paul, this session highlights how even great leaders experienced moments of overwhelming discouragement and desire to quit. Discover which group you belong to—whether it’s time to consider transitioning out of a role that’s no longer aligned with your calling or to surrender deeply to the mission that keeps you up at night. Learn practical steps to gain clarity and direction, navigate transitions, and lead effectively, even in challenging seasons.

Micah Sutton is a successful husband, father, pastor, leader, and church-planter. Ministry has brought him around the world, allowing him to experience many different cultures. His driving passion is helping others move forward in their lives. He and his wife, Kristy, live in Sylvania, Ohio, with their two sons, Talon and Tyrian. He serves as the senior pastor of Five Lakes Church.

Building a Family and Ministry Simultaneously | Bishop Mark & Laquita Briggs (Youth Auditorium)

Have you ever been frustrated juggling ministry and family? STOP!!! One of the great challenges in ministry is how to navigate the demands of ministry and balance family simultaneously. The truth is, our first ministry is to our family, and we should never lose our family trying to do what God’s called us to do. In this session, Bishop Mark & Laquita Briggs will share strategies that they have effectively used to build the family and ministry that God has for your life, and make it healthy and strong.

Mark & Laquita Briggs are the founding pastors of Riverpark Church in Shreveport, LA . They are passionate about people & helping them discover all that Christ has to offer. Their mission is to use all of their God-given talents to help people become better. Their transparency yields a deep, honest, and open relationship with God & with people.

5 Common Threads of Growing Churches | Frankie Mazzapica (Kids Sanctuary)

God wants your ministry to grow. Growth is a reflection of more people being saved and discipled, yet growth is one of the most elusive goals every leader faces. Thankfully, success leaves clues. Growing churches have five common threads. These commonalities give insight, wisdom, and practical steps on how to be a part of those ministries that understand how to create and sustain momentum.

We know that the size of our ministry should be independent of our perceived identity, confidence, and emotional stability.  Still, in a moment of honesty, it directly impacts most of us. It’s fascinating how often our mood during the week is determined by how well our Sunday service went. If the service checks every box, we’re a delight to be around. If it did not, we’re not. As we examine the five common threads of growing churches, you will be encouraged to know that rather than focusing on the goal of leading an expanding ministry, we can aim at micro-targets that will lead to a numerical increase. Once the practical steps to increase our attendance are established, we must answer one resounding question. Will growth be enough?

Frankie Mazzapica and his wife, Allie, pastor Celebration Church of The Woodlands, TX. They planted the church in 2005, and four people from the area attended the first service. Frankie is a published author of two books and is nationally televised on TBN, reaching 120,000 people each Sunday.

The Table of Trust | Drew Brassfield (Youth Auditorium)

Over the last 17 years of ministry, I have come to realize that any level of growth, progress, or success only comes from the Lord, including the strength of a great team. I truly believe strong teams build strong churches. Strong churches change cities for the Kingdom of God. During our session, I want to talk about the leadership table you lead. Whether it is at home with your family, your church, or your business, we all have a table of leadership or, as I would say, we have a table of trust that we are responsible to steward. As with any relationship, trust is the key component to the success of the relationship. The stronger this table is, the stronger your team will be. I am sure you have seen it at a restaurant where one leg is loose on a table, and it creates instability for the entire table. The same is true with our leadership and the trust we have with our team. Recently, I began to look at the leadership table God has given me, and I started asking some questions about the strength of my table. The more I looked, the more I realized there were some loose legs that needed some attention. This session will be a great opportunity to dive into our leadership and get God’s help to ensure we are building a strong table of trust with our team. I can’t wait for you to join me in this fun and insightful leadership session.

Drew has been in and around ministry his entire life. Drew has been married to the love of his life for almost 17 years. Drew and Diana have five amazing boys they love so much – Noah, 15, Jonah, 13, Judah, 10, Asher, 3, and Reagan, 8 months. (As you can imagine, it stays really busy around the Brassfield home!) Drew has served the local church in many different capacities and has had a tremendous opportunity to learn from some amazing leaders over the years. He currently serves as a Campus Pastor at Destiny Worship Center in Destin, Florida. Drew’s experience, coupled with his passion for the local church, allows him to bring an insightful and exciting outlook to church leadership.

Resting in Jesus | April Rodgers (3rd Grade Room)

Is there anything that you are facing today that is causing you to be weary or worried? Is it job pressures, an unfaithful spouse, unresolved family dynamics, a health concern or diagnosis, a wayward child, or an aging parent? Or perhaps you aren’t facing any difficulties in this season of your life, but the thought of resting in Jesus sounds like exactly what you need.

During this breakout session, we will keep Christ as our focus as we discover what deep truths were revealed over 2,000 years ago to two sisters of Bethany by the names of Mary and Martha. Within the pages of Scripture, we find these two sisters. One with a thirst for knowledge and one with the gift of hospitality. One with a quiet strength and one with a take-charge personality. One with a desire to worship and one with a declaration of belief. Each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, but both with a heart for Jesus.

April Rodgers is the published author of Made to Shine: 90 Devotions to Enjoy and Reflect God’s Light and Resting in Jesus: A 30-Day Walk with Mary and Martha. After losing her brother in a tragic car accident, April held on to her faith in God and allowed Him to turn her darkness into light. Now she lives to encourage others to shine in their everyday lives through her ministry, Reflecting Light Ministries.  April is a seminary graduate with her Masters of Theological Studies, mom to two sweet daughters, and wife to an amazing man. Her favorite things consist of coffee, community, and Sunday afternoon naps.

Reaching this Generation: Youth Pastors Connect | Kevin Herrin (Lobby)

Gen Z is a different breed of human.  For the church to not evolve and utilize a new “wineskin” is to lose this generation and see the new wine God is giving out spilled and wasted.  Interestingly enough, what experts are saying is key to reaching them is not a new concept.  It’s actually a rebirth of things of the past.  In my session I will be dealing with the five top issues of Gen Z according to statistical experts: 1) Mental health issues 2) Emotional wounds 3) Port use 4) Loneliness 5) Lack of a Biblical worldview.  In addition to recognizing the issues, I’ll be digging into some remedies for the issues from a (youth) pastoral perspective.  Acts 17:6 conveys the religious leaders’ concern over this new breed of Christians and says that they were “turning the world upside down.”  Every new generation challenges the status quo of the previous and makes their parents’ generation take another look at why they do what they do.  We shouldn’t be afraid to look at things while always staying rooted in God’s Word.  If we will meet Gen Z where they are, I believe they have the capacity to turn their world upside down for Jesus.  The devil is afraid of their potential and wants to use it for his purposes.  Our job is to accept them where they are and lead them into His purposes for their generation.

Kevin & Melissa Herrin have been senior pastors of The Fellowship of Texas City since 2001. They also travel periodically as guest speakers both nationally and globally.  Pastor Kevin and Melissa’s heartbeat is that our world would know its identity through an intimate relationship with Christ.  They are co-founders of NOW Camps, Inc. which has been raising up leaders in the summer for over 25 years.  They have two books in the works and Kevin has several recording projects as well as a monthly leadership podcast entitled Leading the Heart Way.

Youth Breakout | Jarred Moss (Youth Loft)

Inspired sessions designed to engage and inspire young people with a passion for Christ and a hunger for revival.  This session has been specifically crafted by Jarred Moss and his team for students in 6th-12th grades. 

Jarred is the Assistant Pastor at The River Church in Searcy, AR where he grew up in the youth group and met then married his wife, Evelyn. Together, they led the youth ministry for 7 years and served as the assistant pastors for three years, while directing Destiny Youth. They have three beautiful daughters: Addison (9),Ella (5), and Vera James (3), and continue to grace a passion for the next generation of young people and youth pastors nationally and internationally.