Spring Conference Highlights: D&T and Renown

Communications Staff — May 3, 2021

Two conferences during the spring semester helped usher in a gradual return to normal outreach at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

From April 22 thru 24, The Institute for Biblical Worship hosted the annual Doxology and Theology conference at Southern Seminary.

Noted artists and speakers considered the shared glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and their distinct workings within corporate worship.

Said Matt Boswell, Founder of D&T, and SBTS professor of church music: “The theme of our conference this year, the Trinity, could not be more important. The worship of God is a field that demands careful biblical study, thoughtful historical appraisal, and pastoral care.”

The conference included four sessions over three days, reaching a global audience with virtual and in-person attendance totaling 940 participants—representing 40 states and 10 countries.

H. B. Charles, Sandra McCracken, Andrew Peterson, and Matt Merker were among the 29 speakers and artists. Through singing, breakout sessions, and Christ-centered messages, the conference was geared toward understanding who God really is. If worship is to be biblical, it must be trinitarian.

“The great danger in church music is making choices based upon human preference rather than based upon God’s word. Thinking about the Trinity is one of the most time-tested ways to ensure that our worship is God-centered. What a joy to consider this great topic with such a great community of thinkers and worshipers!” said SBTS professor Matthew Westerholm.

Worship pastors and educators were thrilled to incorporate the content into their ministries.

“There were numerous benefits.” said Calvary Baptist Church worship pastor Trent Broussard.

“The music was presented with excellence and the arrangements were simple. I could see myself introducing the songs to my worship team.”

Norton Hall Band led the opening session with a few of their original hymn arrangements.

Band member Evan Sams said, “Our mission is arranging and recording rich hymns of church history so that local churches can easily play and sing them. Doxology and Theology was a great opportunity for us to serve and encourage worship directors, pastors, and teams who weekly serve the local church.”

Broussard also enjoyed the breakout sessions as a means for practical application and building friendships.

“The breakout sessions offered advice in planning liturgies for corporate worship. While the plenary sessions gave the deep theological view, the breakout sessions helped solidify the application of the theology.

“The Zoom huddles also allowed us to interact with one another instead of just listening to a speaker on the screen. I was able to make several new friends simply over Zoom.”

The church needs more, not less, theology in worship. The Institute for Biblical Worship and D&T will continue serving churches and preparing for next year’s conference.

“Thinking biblically about the nature of God is a must for all Christians, especially those who lead in worship,” said Boswell.

Earlier in the semester, many participated in Southern’s Renown conference for high schoolers.

Renown Addresses “What Is a Christian?”

Are high school students intrigued by life’s most important question? If the Renown 2021 Conference is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

More than 1,200 high schoolers watched Boyce College’s two-day online discipleship conference, which addressed the topic “What is a Christian?” Plenary speakers included SBTS President Albert Moher, SBTS Provost Matt Hall, Boyce Dean Dustin Bruce, and professor Timothy Paul Jones, among others. The event was livestreamed from Alumni Memorial Chapel March 19-20. Boyce Worship Collective provided worship music.

The online event represented an adjustment, Bruce was pleased with the way God used the online platform to make the conference available to even so many students.

“While we missed hosting attendees on campus, the opportunity to engage an even greater number of students through the virtual conference platform was remarkable,” said Dustin Bruce, dean of Boyce College. “In the Lord’s kindness, we were able to proclaim biblical truth to more teenagers and youth groups than we even thought possible.”

The number of registrants—1,234—exceeded expectations and was likely quite a bit higher since many groups participated along with the registered attendees. Registrants came from 28 states as well as from Canada. Many youth groups and several families attended, said Dylan Eagle, SBTS director of event productions and event technology.

Speakers teased out the conference theme. Mohler addressed “What is a Christian?”, Hall “What does a Christian do?”, and Jones “What does a Christian believe?” Matt Smethurst, managing editor for The Gospel Coalition and Southern Seminary graduate, tackled “How does a Christian live?”

“We weren’t certain what the response would be to another virtual conference, but Renown exceeded all of our expectations,” Eagle said.

“This was the largest conference attendance, virtual or in-person, that we’ve ever hosted. A big part of our attendance was from church youth groups getting together to tune in or host watch parties. We also had a number of families that got together around the TV or invited friends and neighbors to watch alongside them.”

For more information on Renown, see the conference website.

Coming Soon: D3 Youth Conference

This summer’s D3 Youth Conference will offer two opportunities to attend: June 21-24 or June 28-July 1. The conference theme is Life with the Spirit. For more information or to register, see the conference website.

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