If the Lord wills, Mary and I (and a number of other BT members) will travel this week to Sevierville, Tennessee, for the annual workshop called “Polishing the Pulpit.” What began less than twenty years ago with three friends getting together to bounce sermon ideas off each other has now grown to an annual event that boasts an attendance of over 4,000! It’s called “Polishing the Pulpit” because it started out as a workshop designed just for preachers to hone their craft. But over the years they have added tracks for women, elders, deacons, teens, children, and youth workers. To top it off, they have broad-spectrum sessions for church members who may not fit into any of the other categories. There is literally something for everyone.
PTP is not just another lectureship. It is so much more than that. While lectureships tend to focus just on textual studies, PTP does that and so much more. It is a combination of lectureship, gospel meeting, summer camp, Bible class, teachers’ workshop, elders’ retreat, ladies’ day, youth rally, marriage retreat, deacons’ seminar, VBS, and more.
What sets PTP apart from a typical lectureship, in my opinion, is the practicality of the instruction. For example, I will attend sessions on subjects like “Textual Preaching from the Book of Jeremiah,” “Narrative Preaching from the Old Testament Books of Law,” “Building Better Fellowship Among Area Churches,” “Going from Text to Sermon,” “Five Oft-Forgotten Factors in Sermon Development,” “Using Social Media to Support Your Preaching,” and many others.
One of my favorite parts of PTP is the fellowship, and I love it so much because it is equally as helpful as the formal sessions themselves. There is no way to quantify the benefit of sharing time, exchanging stories, and “talking shop” with other ministers.
And I cannot forget to mention the singing. Have you ever praised God in song with 4,000 of your brothers and sisters in the same room? You can do that at PTP.
From the perspective of a preacher, the importance of continuing education cannot be overstated. While I spend the bulk of my time each week in study and preparation for teaching classes and preaching sermons, it is not often that I get the opportunity to be fed by the preaching and teaching of others. PTP offers me that opportunity, and I am grateful for the wisdom of elders who see the benefits of such programs. When I am filled, renewed, refreshed, and recharged, I bring that renewed energy back to my work here. When I get fresh ideas for classes, sermons, and other parts of local ministry, I bring those fresh ideas back to my work here. When that happens, Brown Trail benefits from my being able to attend PTP. And the benefits you reap are multiplied when you realize that I’m not the only person from BT who is attending. In addition to BT staff (Jon and Jason), several more members are going, but I’ll not try to name everyone for fear of leaving someone out. But each of these people will come back with renewed energy for their areas of work and service, and that will benefit all of BT.
So on behalf of Mary and the other BT members who will be attending, please pray for our safe travel and for the success of the program. And if you need to “renew, refresh, and recharge” (the PTP motto), make plans to join the rest of us next year!