(BLOGGING FROM THE LECTURES, series)
Around Tennessee this time of year just say "I'm heading to the lectures" and most any preacher will know what you're talking about. I did a quick poll a few days ago on why people go to Freed-Hardeman Lectureships. Here's what I found out:
1. Some preachers go to look for a job. Want a job, there are elders here, want a preacher, you can find a few hundred who'll talk to you!
2. Ideals: What's the lastest, hottest, bestest new program that will invigorate, energize and ignite their congregation. Funny how quickly most of those play out.
3. Sermons: It's a sermon stealer's paradise: Peek in a few lectures, some you'll get whole series out of, some just some excellent points. And if that doesn't work, there are a couple of thousand real live preachers who are just dieing to tell you about what they preached last Sunday or are planning for this Sunday. I like to stop by the audio recording sales booth and ask what the "hot sellers" are, I pick those up if they sound intriguing and if they're really good Spring Meadows might hear them within a matter of weeks :).
4. Some go for gossip (I didn't say that out loud, did I?) Who's moving where, who's done what, who's in, who's out, what's the latest issue and who stands where on it.
5. Some go for the display section: They must, that is the only place I see them. One even said to me one time, it is as spiritual for ME to be in the display area seeing folks as it is sitting in a lecture. Ah, the display area. Here you'll find more books than you can afford, the latest material, and a few hundred "parachurch organizations" willing to help you part" with any money you have left after you've visited the book displays. They are ready to tell you why their program, school, product is the best and only one really worthy of your support (I suppose I overstate it). Seriously, you can really learn a lot about many good works there. Some go to learn about these works.
6. Some go to eat: Jack's Creek on Monday lunch, Brooksie's Barn (where I want to be buried) on Tuesday night, Bell's on Wednesday, a couple of visits to the Associates' Kitchen and all the "sponsored meals" - yum.
7. Some go to debate: The Open Forum (or Open Feud as one friend calls it) is one of a kind (we'll say more about that in a later post), but it gives new meaning to that phrase "Take it outside"...people do, in fact a whole lot more debate the "issues" of the day with various degrees of vigor after the "forum" than during it. I personally like Balcony D where, we are so far away from "Ralph" that we conduct our own little forum :)
8. One fellow blogger (Jonathan Jones: http://hopeevidence.blogspot.com/) said: "I go to lectureships to be spiritually uplifted. Preachers need to be spiritually charged, too. It can be draining to study, study study, teach, teach, teach. Sometimes we need to instructed and taught to and lectureships often fill this need." Amen.
9. Most at least listed the wonderful fellowship that is there. Hugh Fulford says, "I enjoy seeing who I can see."
10. Oh, and there are actual lectures that are going on too :). So some come just to deliver a speech, others to hear their favorite speakers. One guy said "I attend because I believe they are sound and helpful and because of the wonderful fellowship with brethren." The speakers are expected to be men who know, respect and love the word of God and the church. Some who don't hear the speakers get the CD's and "THE BOOK" (what a resource that becomes). My experience is that the speakers are guys you can trust.
Why I go: It is a reunion of a few thousand of my closest friends. I love preachers and their hearts and the energy they bring to life and the impact they so deeply desire to have on others, so this is sorta Mecca to me! I long for the time with these guys and it's never enough. I love these men of God. I go because I get to see family. Sons, my dad, brother, sister, nephews, uncle and aunts, cousins, the gangs all here. I go for Open Forum, to hear some specific lectures each year, I go to hear the student speak in chapel, I go for practical advice and spiritual insight and, yes, I go for Brooksie's on Tuesday night. It's not perfect but it is a special time for me in my life each year. It's a spiritual feast for me in every good way.
I'm sure I left out a truck load of possible reasons, so go ahead, if you attend, post yours.