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Listening Dinner provides partnership opportunities for local churches

April 5, 2022

Staff members and volunteers from 19 churches in and around Harrison county gathered at East Texas Baptist University in March for a listening dinner hosted by the ETBU School of Christian Studies and Humanities. The purpose of the meeting was to talk through some of the needs that East Texas churches have, with an ultimate goal to use ETBU’s resources to address area churches’ needs through programs like the Certificate in Ministry, weekend seminars, or other specialized training to equip people for service in their churches.  

“We saw a need for a candid discussion about the challenges facing church staff and volunteers and the ways they are currently addressing those challenges,” Dean of the ETBU School of Christian Studies and Humanities Sandy Hoover said. “Over the next few years, we want to come alongside area churches to enhance their service. We are working on creative ways to deploy ETBU faculty, staff, and students to support Kingdom work in East Texas, and the first step is to understand the needs of local churches better.”

During the event, attendees were divided into smaller groups where they were able to collaborate and discuss the issues they were each facing. After the smaller break-out sessions, the group came together as a whole to discuss and come up with necessary courses of action.

“Ministry is about pouring into the lives of people,” a participant shared. “We are each called by God to serve the church in some capacity. We need to strive for good and rightful stewardship of God’s resources, which means being prepared as best as we can. We can’t just go with the flow when it comes to ministry.”

Some areas of need that were identified from the open discussion include sound system management, streaming technology, Sunday School teacher training, and volunteer support. The School of Christian Studies and Humanities is also considering weekend workshops that will focus on a single issue to serve specific groups of church leaders.

“We have learned from our mistakes and have moved forward, but it is really important to focus on the challenges we are still facing that could be avoided,” Dr. Hoover added. “With a little bit of help, training, information, and resources employed in the right direction, we can help equip people in the churches to do the work that God is calling them to do. I fully believe there is going to be fruit born out of this conversation. I believe that soon, we're going to be able to take what was discussed during this listening dinner and use that to build resources to help really change the way we are able to minister to our community.

During the dinner, Soda Lake Baptist Association Treasurer David Holt was recognized for completing the necessary requirements for ETBU’s Certificate in Ministry (CIM). Holt also serves as the Music Director for Woodlawn Baptist Church in Marshall. The CIM program is a three-year program in which students meet for three hours a week, taking classes in Old and New Testament, teaching and preaching, and evangelism and missions to prepare for service in a variety of ministries in their churches and communities.

To learn more about East Texas Baptist’s School of Christian Studies and Humanities or the Certificate in  Ministry, visit