Pastors gather to be refreshed, renewed, re-signed to ministry  

Grey Falanga, James Barham, Glenn Putman, and Don Blackmore encourage pastors to practice self-care.

JONESBORO, Ark. – Pastors from across the state gathered at Walnut Street Baptist Church in Jonesboro on Monday to be “refreshed, re-signed and renewed” in the Lord.  

The annual Pastors’ Conference, held prior to the 170th Annual Meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC), kicked off with lunch followed by worship and a message by Dr. Robert Smith Jr., who serves as professor of Christian preaching and holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Alabama.  

“You didn’t take up preaching. Preaching took up you,” Smith said.  

Smith encouraged pastors to keep up the Gospel work and “let God re-sign” them to the calling He has placed upon their lives. He reminded them that God is on the throne and working in ways that they cannot imagine.  

“God is sooner than right now and quicker than already,” Smith said.  

Smith also reminded pastors that no pastorate is too small. Every bit of their ministry matters and their shepherding impacts countless lives. 

“You might never write a book. That doesn’t matter, but you are writing in the lives of people,” Smith said.  

Following Smith’s Gospel message, the 2023 Pastors’ Conference President Grey Falanga led a panel discussion on how to lead healthy lives as pastors/staff in ministry. The panel was comprised of Don Blackmore, adult discipleship pastor at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro; Glen Putman, former pastor at Walnut Street Baptist Church; and James Barham of Living Well Professional Counseling. 

Blackmore told pastors that an upcoming Art of Marriage retreat will be held in May 2024 on a Monday through Wednesday to allow pastors the opportunity to attend. Information and a registration link can be found at 

Barham reminded pastors that Living Well Counseling is available to serve them.   

After a brief break and more worship, Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastor Jim Cymbala, who has authored several books, shared God’s word.  

“In the worst situations, He shows how marvelous He can work,” Cymbala told those in attendance.  

Cymbala shared about how his own daughter’s life was changed thanks to Christ. Through steadfast prayer his family persevered, and he acknowledged prayer as vital to the lives of churches today. 

Cymbala also referenced the divisive pull politics has on churches today and pleaded with pastors to be unified. 

“The culture is evangelizing the church instead of the church evangelizing the culture,” Cymbala said.  

Additionally, during the conference, attendees elected Sean Mills, who serves as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Conway, as president of the 2024 Pastors’ Conference. John Venable, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Alexander, will serve as vice president on the 2024 Pastors’ Conference Leadership Team.   

Mills said he is honored to serve as the Pastor’s Conference president and to serve “the incredible pastors and ministers of Arkansas.” 

“My heart is that the 2024 Pastor’s Conference will encourage and refresh pastors,” he said.  

Mills referenced Joshua 14:8, saying may it be said of “us as it was with Caleb that we have followed the Lord, my God, wholeheartedly. That we keep our vigor for serving the Lord and telling people about Jesus for our entire life.”  

Mills encouraged Arkansas Baptists to pray as they plan and begin now preparing for 2024. 

To view this year’s Pastor’s Conference, click here.   

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