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  • Writer's pictureDean Thompson

Reflections from PTP '22

Polishing the Pulpit ‘22 is over, and the anticipation for PTP ‘23 has set in. After a two-year hiatus, it was great to be back around so many Christians and attend many scripturally sound sessions. As I reflect on how PTP helped my family and I refresh, renew, and recharge, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you.

It was the Best Reunion on this Side of Heaven

This magnificent event had been put on pause for two years due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. This means that Christians who were used to meeting up in Sevierville, Tennessee (for what some call “the best week of the year”) did not have the opportunity to do so for quite some time. When the dates for PTP 2020 were announced in 2019, brethren from all corners of the country had plans to see one another the following year.

No one could have predicted a cancellation for the next two years! Nonetheless, PTP’s organizers forged ahead and were given the green light to hold the event this year, and boy, we are so glad they were!

I recall noticing brothers and sisters who had not seen one another in years exchange warm embraces as I walked around the convention center. There was plenty of chatter and laughter to go around in between the speaker’s sessions. It felt amazing to be around brothers and sisters of like precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1).

Reunions are often met with a semblance of exuberance and jubilee. That’s indeed what PTP ‘22 felt like. One night, I had the chance to enjoy dinner with Robby Eversole Sr. and others. After the meal, he said, “I can get the thumb drive and listen to the lessons but I can’t get this! I can’t get the fellowship. This is what it’s about.” I couldn’t agree more.

The Lord’s Church was Edified

The homepage of Polishing the Pulpit’s website states: “A workshop for every member of the Lord’s church.” If you take a peek at the sessions from just this year alone, it’s easy to see why the organizers make such a claim. PTP’s directors strive to pull in the most influential and sound gospel preachers and teachers from across the brotherhood and pair them to a topic(s) that will motivate, inspire, and encourage all who listen.

Some of the lessons that really stuck out to me were “Young Men, Grow a Backbone” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” by John DeBerry Jr. I also appreciate Greg Dismuke’s lesson on “I Have Not Given You a Spirit of Timidity.” This session was primarily for preachers and it was extremely motivating. I’ll never forget that he said, “It’s like some folks have come out of the closet and pushed us in!” - a warning for preachers to not be afraid to preach the gospel, no matter what (1 Tim. 4:1-4).

I was particularly impressed with the way my great friend Hiram Kemp handled the topic, “What to Do if Your Congregation is Dying.” Hiram always does a fantastic job, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he expounded on a very unique topic with poise and clarity. One of things not to do when a congregation is dying is to “pack our bags.” He reminded us that the average person has a natural tendency to run when the going gets tough. When the Lord’s church is struggling, His people need to rally together and work towards a solution rather than hide from the problem. I was truly encouraged by that.

God was Magnified

With numerous sessions centered on the greatness of God and the idyllic backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, our Lord was unquestionably magnified! And we can’t forget about the singing, which brought glory to God’s name! Just picture 5,000+ Christians coming together to sing praises to Jehovah. My goodness, it’s the best sound on this side of heaven! You really got a feel of what David exclaimed in Psalm 34:3:

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!”

Polishing the Pulpit is all about lifting up the name of God so that Christians can reflect on His awesomeness the entire week and continue to cherish their relationship with the Father even when they go home at the end of the workshop. Being surrounded by God’s wonderful creation in the serene East Tennessee Mountains was just the icing on the cake (Psa. 19:1; Eccl. 3:11; Isa. 44:18; Rom. 1:20).

My Family Left Satisfied

This year’s PTP was one of many firsts for my family. My wife and I were blessed with the opportunity to speak at sessions for the first time. It was our son’s first time at the conference, and I think he enjoyed it! We also got to spend some quality time with brethren that we have never met in person before as well as with some old acquaintances. The grand experience and memories that will last a lifetime no doubt caused my family to leave satisfied.

Set Your Calendar

PTP ‘23 is slated for August 16-24. If you have never been, I highly recommend that you fit it into your schedule somehow. Just writing about it doesn’t do it justice. You simply have to experience PTP for yourself. Hopefully, we will see you there!

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