Stay tuned for updated information for our 2025 conference. To get an idea of our conference offerings, view our 2024 conference information, breakouts and speakers below.

Group 278@2x


Our Vision

The vision of the Upstate Missions Conference is to teach, train and equip churches with tools to more effectively take the gospel to their communities and beyond. Through dynamic speakers and relevant breakout session topics, churches of any size and any level of missions engagement will be able to sharpen the tip of their gospel proclamation spear. The conference is designed for everyone. Whether you are a lay leader, mission trip participant or pastor, you'll be able to engage and enjoy what we have in store for you.

Cary Sanders


Cary Sanders



Keynote Topic: How Can A Believer Bring God's Name Glory?

Hear from our Keynote Speaker, Cary Sanders, beginning in the Worship Center.

You won't find this to be a typical talk. You will hear inspiring stories of everyday people who had an undeniable impact on those around them as God worked in and through them. 
Discover the keys to maturing in your relationship with God, so you can enjoy your walk with Him and bring His Name glory along the journey. 
Whether you're seeking a closer walk with the Lord or yearning to make a significant impact in your community and beyond, this will be time well spent.

Intersection 16@2x

Bio:  Cary Sanders' life is a remarkable story of redemption and hope, a journey that speaks directly to the heart of those who understand the power of Christ's transformative love. Once an atheist teetering on the brink of suicide, Cary encountered Jesus in his darkest hour, an encounter that changed his life forever.

His early years were marked by significant struggle and waywardness, having been arrested 17 times by the age of 17. His life seemed destined for despair and defeat; but God had other plans. Cary's transformation from a life of incarceration to academic and professional excellence is nothing short of miraculous. Despite being barred for life from the university he later attended, he not only earned a doctorate degree but did so while balancing the demands of family life and full-time employment.

While serving a nine-year sentence in a South Carolina state prison, Cary held onto his faith and his dreams, even when others doubted him. Upon his release, he pursued and obtained a bachelor's degree in Christian Studies, a master's degree in Management and Leadership, and a doctorate degree in Ministry—all within nine years.

As the CEO of the nationally-acclaimed nonprofit JUMPSTART SC, Cary dedicates his life to empowering those who have faced similar challenges of incarceration. He developed a groundbreaking 40-week curriculum that combines evidence-based practices with theological scholarship, dramatically changing lives across the nation. This initiative is reshaping futures, breaking cycles of crime and addiction, and fostering safer, more hopeful communities.

An inspiring speaker, Cary has shared his story and insights at over 100 venues, including universities, churches, and professional gatherings. His talks focus on leadership, team building, and the transformative power of a relationship with Christ, always pointing back to the miraculous change He wrought in his own life.

Cary's testimony is a beacon of hope, demonstrating that through Christ, anyone can overcome their past and seize their God-given potential. His life is a testament to the belief that transformational opportunities exist for all, and that with faith and determination, every individual can achieve greatness and fulfill their purpose.

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all FILLED with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Acts 4:31


Why Cities Matter

The city is more important than it’s ever been. Right now, more people live in cities than at any other time in human history. Never before has the majority of the world’s population been an urban population. Cities have always played a central role in human history and in God’s redemptive plan for the world. Cities have long stood as powerful places of cultural development, influence, and invention—offering hope, refuge, and new beginnings. But never before have cities been as populated, powerful, and important as they are today. This session will highlight the importance of cities, how they function and how the church can enter into this broken urban storyline with the gospel and to develop a ministry renewal vision for the city.

Dr. Stephen Um

Preaching and Theology Mentor For Greater Boston


March 9th

Muslim Evangelism: Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time

Mike Shipman served for more than 20 years in Southeast Asia with the International Mission Board. Mike developed the Any-3 (Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time) evangelism approach. Those implementing this non-combative approach have led countless people to faith in Christ worldwide. By applying appropriate follow-up to Any-3, many practitioners have planted multiplying churches, while others have joyously planted the first churches among their focus people groups.

Mike Shipman

International Mission Board | Sr. Diaspora Mobilization Strategist


March 9th

Revolutionary Obedience: What does embracing missions entail when I choose to say yes?

Join us as we explore the profound connection between embracing missions and the courageous act of saying yes. This session seeks to uncover the spiritual richness that comes from wholehearted obedience in the mission field, both locally and globally. We will navigate the depths of commitment, examining how saying yes to missions isn't merely a decision but a revolutionary journey that fills our lives with purpose and divine fulfillment. Through engaging discussions and real-life stories, we'll illuminate the path toward a more profound understanding of obedience, demonstrating its radical impact on our personal and collective spiritual journeys. Be prepared to be inspired, challenged, and equipped for a life of transformative obedience in the service of God's mission.

Scott Ward

Missions Pastor | Grand Avenue Baptist Church | Fort Smith, Arkansas 


March 9th

From Damascus Road to Reidville Road - How Paul's missionary journeys impact our lives today

Paul was responsible for planting the New Testament Church globally. He evangelized, raised up pastors, and started churches. He established the roles and expectations of pastors, deacons, and members of the churches. But what were his specific expectations for church members and missions specifically? Is it something that only a few select members are to engage in, or is there an expectation for every church member? What are those expectations? Are they optional or commanded?

Dr. Wayne Huggins

Member of Church at The Mill


March 9th

Apologies are Great Apologetics

What if the greatest hindrance to the missional movement you are wanting to see in your church is…you?

What if your greatest strength is simultaneously your greatest weakness?

Oftentimes, in missions positions where we are regularly talking to people about the need for obedience to the Great Commission, we have stopped being talked to about our own need for obedience. What if our zeal for evangelism, our passion for hospitality to the unreached, is setting up smoke screens to cloak our own sin, and it’s easy to cover up in a church setting? What if our abilities to defend the Gospel has created abilities to defend ourselves?

We can practically model to the unreached the actual greatest need…a Savior…from ourselves. Having recently witnessed a revival in her workplace and neighborhoods, it all began with her own need of confession and repentance.

Lori Accordini

Director of Strategic Partnerships | Radeas Labs


March 9th

Why the Bible is not the Basis for Missions

I know what you’re thinking right now: “Whaaat?!!! I’m not going to that heretical breakout session! This guy doesn’t believe the Bible!” I get it, but there’s no heresy here. I promise! The title is a bit of a play on words—but it’s actually true. The Bible is not really the basis for missions; instead, missions is actually the basis for the Bible! Missions is the reason why this inspired (God-breathed) book was written, and if you come to this session, you might never read the Bible the same way again!

Dr. Allen Mcwhite

Center for Global Engagement | North Greenville University

March 9th

Relational Evangelism: How to Win People, Not Just Arguments

Most people find evangelism difficult either because it makes them feel awkward, they don't feel equipped, or they feel like it makes people out to be projects. I have felt all of those things, but in this session I'll draw from my time in South Africa to offer ways that I have learned to share and show the gospel naturally and normally with the people God has placed in my life.

Julius Tennal

Director of International Missions | Summit Church | Raleigh, NC


March 9th

Are Mormons Our Brothers?

Have you ever wondered, "What do Mormons believe?" or "Are they just another denomination of Christianity?" During this session, we will spend time examining what "Mormons" or as they prefer to be called today "Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" believe. We will answer the questions many have probably asked when encountering or seeing the material the LDS church is releasing now.

Will Reynolds

Member of Church at The Mill | Church Plant Partner


March 9th

The Role of Discipleship in Fulfilling the Great Commission

Over the years, I have discovered that there is a tool missing for the church, for Christians, for your life, and for my life. A tool that has everything to do with our existence as people who love and follow Jesus. The project, which this missing tool (40: A Discipleship Journey Series) can help with, is not one we completely ignore. It is preached about, written about, and talked about in most circles of Christianity. We know what needs to be done. We know Jesus gave the project to us. We know the goal. We even know the scope and scale. We just do not seem to have the right tool. 

The project I’m speaking of is discipleship. To be extraordinarily clear, this is the clear command Christ gave His followers to make disciples. You have heard it before, but it never hurts to read it again. It is rightfully called the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Discipleship is not confusing, but it also is not happening. We see people being reached for Christ, churches growing numerically, and we praise God for these things. While the intent is not to discourage you, I do want to challenge you with two questions. Join the session and dive in with me.

Dr. D.J. Horton

Senior Pastor | Church at The Mill


March 9th

Helping Holistically

Have you ever felt conflicted about helping someone in need? Maybe you encounter a beggar on the street or hear from a friend that has fallen on hard times. You feel God moving you to do something, but don't exactly know the best way to help. You have a heart full of compassion, but you feel uncertain when considering how you should respond.
During this session we will look at ways to help others using strategies that avoid enabling or creating unhealthy dependency. We will discuss the importance of considering the person as a whole, rather than focusing on the specific needs that brought them into our lives.

Andrew Smith

Associate Missions Pastor | Church at The Mill


March 9th


Choose from Life Matters, Prayer Matters, or Family Matters


Prayer Matters

Prayer Walking | Jason Williamson
Spiritual Warfare | Keith Thielke
The Work of Prayer in Missions | Julie McNeely

Life Matters

Protecting Life | Alexia Newman
GenSend/NextGen | Charlie Swain
Retired Life | David & Jo Brown

Family Matters

Families on Mission | Chuckie Stevens
Fostering the Family | Kim Trainer
Reaching the Family Next Door | Katie Spurlock