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  • Writer's pictureDean Thompson

Reflections from PTP 2023

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Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) is an annual conference of the churches of Christ that takes place in beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee. It’s perhaps one of the largest gatherings of Christians from all over the country who attend the conference to be refreshed, renewed, and recharged. This year, the attendance record was broken with 5,472 individuals present!

The conference continues to get better each year with hundreds of sessions from capable speakers across the brotherhood. The presentations are always high-quality because the speakers spend so much time and energy preparing for the best week of the year, but, in my opinion, the fellowship is more enriching. It's a treasure to catch up with Christians you only get to see annually and a true delight to meet new brethren and create lasting memories.

This was my family’s fourth PTP and perhaps our most favorite. I don’t have the space to recap all of the things that made the conference so magnificent this year, so, I’ll just give you some highlights.

My Top 3 Presentations

As I’ve already mentioned, there are thousands of sessions for all ages at PTP, so narrowing my list down to three of my favorites was a challenge, but here they are:

  • “Don’t Make the Strait and Narrow Thin and Impossible” by Eric Owens. During this engaging 30-minute sermon, brother Eric stated, “Jesus is the Way. The straight and narrow way is not impossible because Jesus is the way. It’s about Jesus.” What a great reminder for all of us to maintain our focus on the One Who is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).

  • “Behold Forgiveness!” by Greg Dismuke. This sermon was centered on the forgiveness Saul of Tarsus received from God and what we can learn from it. Everyone has a past worth forgetting was the main thrust of the message. Brother Greg said, “Paul was arrested by Christ…. He was going to arrest those of the Way, but instead, he got arrested by the One Who is The Way.” He was referencing the life-altering event in Paul’s life when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus as he was going to arrest Christians (Acts 9:1–6; 17–19).

  • “Can You Pray Your Way to Heaven?” by John DeBerry, Jr. This keynote lesson centered on the blessing of obedience to our Almighty Father. Brother John declared, “Prayer stops sin, but nothing but sin will stop prayer.” His presentation was a powerful and sobering one that reminded us that God requires our obedience if we want to see him in heaven (John 14:15). If anyone could have prayed their way to heaven, then it would have been Saul of Tarsus but Ananias was sent to tell him what he needed to do to receive salvation (Acts 9:10–18).

If you would like to listen to these sermons, and many more from prior PTPs, then you can subscribe to PTP365. This service has definitely been a blessing to my family, and I hope it will be to yours as well.

Exciting News

PTP is expanding! There will not be just one PTP conference in 2024 but TWO! The first will be in Branson, MO on July 10-15 and the second will be in Sevierville, TN on August 16-22, Lord willing. Don’t take my word for it, watch the announcement video to learn more! The expansion will give families who have not had the opportunity to travel to Sevierville because of the distance, school, etc., a chance to partake in what’s billed as “The Best Week of the Year.” If you’re interested, you can make plans to attend one or BOTH conferences today!

I believe Polishing the Pulpit has been an enormous blessing for the brotherhood. The organizers, the staff, and the volunteers deserve our endless praise for putting on such an amazing event year after year. If you’ve never been or it’s been a while since you’ve attended, then I encourage you to make it your aim to join us next year, Lord willing. You’ll be able to witness for yourself what makes Polishing the Pulpit so great. To God be the glory!

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Alex Smith
Alex Smith

Nice recap and reflection. It is amazing to see the good works that our brethren nationally are engaged in for the Lord. I hope to attend in the near future.

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