by Mark Teske

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (BNc) — The 2010 Polishing the Pulpit was an overwhelming success and the previous record attendance was shattered by a 42% increase in attendance this year. The 2,043 attendees listened to 102 different speakers discussing a wide variety of topics over the 7-day seminar in 11 different venues. For the third straight year, the Sevierville Events Center hosted the event in their beautiful facility that is just miles from the tourist attractions and splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The event was so big that three church buildings were overflowing on Sunday and one congregation moved their services to the Event Center to handle the crowds. William Woodson was this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Service Award, just days before his passing.

Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) fills a series of needs in the brotherhood simultaneously and manages to do them all well. PTP is like a lectureship in that there are speakers in various venues talking about biblical and practical subjects. While lectureships generally follow a consistent theme, PTP sessions follow tracks designed to meet the needs of specific groups within the church. For instance, preachers not only hear about sections of scripture, they also hear lessons on PowerPoint, avoiding legal issues, how to deal with difficult situations, how to avoid discouragement, and similar topics. There are other tracks for elders, deacons, women, teens, general members, and starting this year, the Spanish track was started. It is not uncommon for people to jump over to another track during the week because there are so many interesting subjects.

There is a certain synergy that is created by having these tracks all taking place simultaneously. A deacon may be learning how to serve more effectively while his wife is in a session on counseling people who have suffered a death in the family. Their teenage children are learning about the perils of dating while the younger children are in a session that was just like their Bible camp over the summer. Grandpa was in an elder’s roundtable with other elders discussing how to deal with a difficult situation while Grandma is listening to a speaker that she hasn’t heard in 40 years. When the family gets back together, each individual is excited about having their specific needs met and the excitement and encouragement becomes contagious.

With all of the sessions happening simultaneously, it’s nearly impossible to hear everything that you’d like. The audio from each one of the sessions is recorded and made available on CD. While you can purchase individual lessons on CD during PTP, you can purchase entire tracks or the entire package from this or previous years online.

Barbara has been involved in missions for over 25 years, both in the field and in publishing.

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