So, I’ve been enjoying the 24th annual Theological Symposium at the seminary in St. Louis. The topic as been both engaging and refreshing. The presenters have been outstanding and it is always good to catch up with old friends and even make a few new ones. While I find that I continue to love the task of learning new things from the experts I find that I covet far more the hours spent in theological discussion late into the night around cigars and cocktails.
Yet there can be a downside to such gatherings. It is something that I notice in the faces of some of the pastors who gather for such conferences. It is a perplexing look of one who is struggling to figure our how to take all this new information and have it make a practical impact in the local congregation. The look is of one who is struggling to just keep his head above water and now feels compelled to do one more new thing; a new program, new outreach emphasis, new direction for community impact and on the list goes.
Here’s the thing, if we only gather to get a new packaged item to put to work in a congregation we are missing the point all together. Rather, if we gather because “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” then the blessing given to a congregation flows not directly to them but through the mouth of the one who proclaims the Word to them. In other words the impact of a Theological Symposium is felt in how it aids in the faithful preaching of God’s Word by giving tools and encouragement and correction to the goal of theology itself, proclamation.
After I get home I’ll share a bit more about the content of the Symposium. Until then I’m heading back down to the bar for a little more “sharpening” with great friends.