AVDS conference to explore relationships between business professionals and church leaders

Hesston College Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series
Dr. John Stahl-Wert
Dr. John Stahl-Wert will be the keynote speaker at the AVDS conference, which will explore ways to build relationships between church leaders and business professionals.

Hesston College will host church and business leaders for the Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series conference Oct. 26 to 28.

This year, the annual conference’s theme is “Top Down Servant Leadership: Redefining Leadership for Business and Church.” The event will serve as an resource for both church leaders and Christian business professionals to network with one another and see how relationships between the groups can expand ministry.

“There is a natural relationship between business and church leaders that can easily remain under utilized, but the conference will show how those positive relationships are beneficial to both,” said conference organizer Rachel Swartzendruber Miller.

Dr. John Stahl-Wert, a recognized expert in organizational leadership and an international bestselling author on the topic will be the featured speaker for the weekend. He will speak to the challenges of successful leadership in business and in the church, and developing leadership qualities for oneself and in others.

Dr. Stahl-Wert is a founding partner of SHIP, LLC, which provides training and access to the insights, tools and resources found in the international bestseller he co-authored, “The Serving Leader,” which discusses implementing servant leadership in the workplace and in life. He is also president and CEO of the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Leadership Foundation and Serving Leaders, is a senior fellow for the Center for Executive Leadership and serves as adjunct faculty at Bakke Graduate University in Hong Kong and Geneva College’s (Beaver Falls, Pa.) master of science in organizational leadership program. He is also the author of “With: A True Story” and co-author of “Ten Thousand Horses.”

“Many of our business leaders are church leaders, too,” said Tim Lichti, director of the Hesston College Pastoral Ministries program. “I am excited to have good conversation between pastors and business leaders.”

The idea of servant leadership meets the needs of both the leader and follower, employer and employee, pastor and congregant, in a mutually beneficial and empowering way. With this model, people are able to relate to one another on a comfortable and more personable level.

“Servant leadership takes leadership to another level and requires a serving mindset to find ways to empower employees with the opportunities and skills to do their jobs effectively,” said Hesston business instructor Vickie Andres. “The Millennial generation desires purposeful work, and a serving leader can provide that opportunity with a workplace environment where they can make a difference and experience growth.”

The conference will have large group sessions led by Dr. Stahl-Wert as well as small group breakout sessions led by church and business leaders. Some breakout session presenters include Marion Bontrager, Hesston College Bible and ministry instructor and moderator for the South Central Conference of Mennonite Church USA; Glen Guyton, director for Finance and Convention Planning with Mennonite Church USA; Lee Schmucker, a leading training consultant with Schmucker Training and Consulting, professional speaker and college instructor; Howard Wagler, lead pastor at South Hutchinson (Kan.) Mennonite Church; Diane Zaerr Brenneman, an ordained Mennonite minister and former moderator for the Central Plains Mennonite Conference; and Kristen Zerger, director of education and training with Bethel College’s (North Newton, Kan.) Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

“There can be a lot to learn from each other and partnerships that need to be recognized,” said Lichti. “We just need to learn to hear each other and find that common vision that moves the church forward.”

The weekend events will also include a celebration of 25 years of the Hesston College Pastoral Ministries program during the Saturday evening meal. Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, will address the group during the program and again during the Sunday morning session.

The Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series was started at Hesston College to help Christians from the Anabaptist tradition and others interested in Anabaptism more fully understand their faith.

A complete schedule, registration information and speaker information are available online. Cost for registration before Oct. 1 is $115 for individuals or $90 per person if registered in groups of three or more. After Oct. 1, individual registration is $135, and the group rate is $100 per person. For more information, contact Rosie Jantz at rosiej@hesston.edu or 620-327-8213.