Every May I gather with a group of pastors from Monday to Friday. The agenda is simple: to work through a book of the Bible together as we think about preaching it. Every year we bring in a different scholar who has written a commentary on that book. We also have our former preaching professor (Haddon Robinson) help us think through how to preach that book.
We've had Bruce Waltke, George Guthrie, Douglas Moo, Daniel Block, and more. This week we've had D.A. Carson. It's hard to beat. I've been to a lot of conferences, but this by far is my favorite learning event of the year.
You should start one too.
I'm convinced that we as pastors have to go a bit deeper than what's offered at most conferences. We need more intimacy, more depth, and more encouragement than the average conference can afford. Many pastors graduate from seminary and never experience the same level of teaching just about the time that they can really benefit from it. I'm not talking about abstract, theoretical work. I'm talking about digging into the Word of God and thinking in depth how it applies to our lives and ministries.
Here's all it takes:
- A group of interested pastors. This may be easier than you think.
- A scholar. This, too, may be easier than you think. Most Bible scholars would love to spend a week with pastors helping them think through a text. Invite them, fly them in, and pay them well. You may have to pick them up off the floor when they find out that you're even interested.
- A structure. It's as simple as finding a place and setting a basic schedule. Then just set some ground rules and go.
- Don't try to do this in a church if you can. Get away so that you're away from the regular grind and can spend lots of your spare time together.
I stumbled across this, but I'm telling you: it's worth the effort. I would trade a dozen conferences for one of these weeks.
Most pastors desperately need the intimacy, depth, and encouragement that a week like this offers. There's power in coming together and digging into the Word together, and beginning to see what God does over a few years of sticking at this. I dare you to give it a try.