On Feb. 11-13 the pastors of the Central States Conference came together for their Winter Workers Meeting at the conference headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, to be inspired, educated and energized for their task of spreading the everlasting gospel in the heartland of America in 2024. 

The pastors were able to come together for a time of fun and fellowship on Sunday evening, where they watched the Kansas City Chiefs become back-to-back NFL champions. The come-from-behind victory of the Chiefs led by Pat Mahomes was inspiring. It reminded us that regardless of the challenges and obstacles that we may have experienced in the past, God is able to reignite our passions and commitments to be effective pastors in our churches and communities. Pastors Keith Hackle and Elijah Johnson shared powerful devotional messages on the Central States Conference theme for 2024, “Committed: Reignited by His Spirit.”

In addition to being inspired, the pastors were blessed to have Pastor Daniel Hall from the South Atlantic Conference with them, as he shared strategies for soul winning and evangelism based on his Compassion Ministry paradigm. He testified and taught that when we literally engage in “Christ’s Method Alone,” mingling with and meeting the needs of our community, winning their confidence, and then inviting them to follow Jesus, it literally results in people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Pastor Hall had been blessed to see over 70 and 80 souls come to Christ in two years, back to back, in his two-church district by using this biblical method. He also shared more information on how to retain our new members, by giving examples of fellowship, belonging and discipleship that will help new members not just stay in the church, but also contribute to the mission of the church.

Another major highlight of the pastors’ time together was the presence and presentations of James Winegardner, Esq., president of Adventist Risk Management. As he shared the many ways that pastors can be prudent managers of God’s people and properties, everyone came away more knowledgeable regarding how we can be the best stewards of what God has entrusted to us. One of the best ways of learning is listening to the pitfalls of others so that one does not have to experience those pitfalls for oneself. Our pastors are certainly committed, as the Marvin Sapp song says, to becoming stronger, better and wiser.  

Dr. William Cox, executive director for the Regional Conference Retirement Plan, was another one of our presenters who was able to affirm the blessing and stability of the plan, and allow the pastors to do basic estimates of how much they would be eligible to receive upon retirement. Of course, many young pastors do not always get excited about retirement, as they are in the beginning stages of this ministry journey. However, the reality that they have the potential to retire and receive approximately two-thirds of their highest three years average salary (and when social security is added, they could retire and be able to maintain the identical income and standard of living) had all ears, young and senior alike, paying rapt attention. There were other shorter presentations on minister’s taxes and Adventist Disaster Relief Agency by Pastors George Bryant and Rich Carlson respectively.

The two full days flew by quickly, but the intent of the conference administration was to pour in to the pastors as much as possible within that time frame; and then send the pastors back to their spouses before the next day, Valentine’s Day. The conference leadership team highly values healthy marriages and families. Thus, although it was great for them to learn how to create healthy and growing churches, the health of their first church—family—is always the #1 priority. 

Pastor Craig Carr, ministerial director for the Mid-America Union, cemented the conference’s commitment to healthy pastoral families by attending the meeting and announcing the upcoming pastors and families retreat in July 2024 that will be sponsored by the Mid-America Union. We can’t wait. Thank you MAUC!

Cryston Josiah is vice president of administration for the Central States Conference.