This week I had the opportunity to take part in Harding University’s 95th annual Bible Lectureship, and had a great time. I got to spend time with family and close friends, renew friendships and acquaintances of people I haven’t seen for a while, and I was honored to present two sessions on Youth In Family Ministry on Wednesday, and had good attendance in both sessions and got to field a lot of excellent questions after each session.

Also, though, I was privileged to get to hear several excellent sessions. Really, everything I went to was quite good, but below, I’ll just share brief recaps of the sessions for which I took notes:

  • Honoring Our Parents, Claiming the Promise, Andrew Phillips: this was a morning keynote session, and I thought Andrew did very well. He emphasized that honor is a heavy matter, but that not every heavy, weighty aspect of life is a burden. The weight of honoring one’s parents provides a serious responsibility in life, but it also provides a solid foundation for life.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Gestalt: Thoughts About a High View of Scripture, Richard Oster: Dr. Oster was one of my favorite HST professors, and always does a great job. He said some fairly predictable, but laudable and appropriate things about the nature of Scripture, including this gem: “Scripture is the litmus test against which we are to measure all spiritual experiences.” He also discussed two problem areas related to Scripture that sometimes plague believers: (1) Failing to discern that Scripture is the “map” that points us to Jesus. As important as the Bible is, we are more interested in the “territory” to which it points than we are in the map itself. (2) The tendency of some to want to distance themselves from the Old Testament or shelve it altogether. This is untenable: the OT was the Bible of the early church, and the very identity of Jesus cannot be explained without it.
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit, Part 2, Monte Cox:  Dr. Cox was one of my favorite undergrad teachers at Harding, and is always a treat to listen to. He had three sessions on the Holy Spirit, but there were so many good options on Monday that I could only get in to listen to this one. It was outstanding. This was a very practical class, which sought to answer the question, “How can we cooperate with the Spirit?” in terms of defeating the influence of sin in our lives and being transformed into the image of Christ.
  • Right Click: Parenting Your Teenager in a Digital Media World, T.J. Davidson: T.J. is a friend and a really good youth minister, and he did a great job here, discussing how digital media is changing us, and some of the things we can do about it. I wish T.J. could have had more time, because I felt like there was more that he could have shared with us.
  • Serving With Honor Without Losing Your Mind, Jim Martin: Dr. Martin spoke at the Celebration of Ministry Dinner. He is Vice President at HST, and is also one of the best Twitter follows out there (@JimMartin). This dinner is always fun and basically serves as a pep talk for those in ministry. Dr. Martin laid out four ideas to address the topic at hand: (1) Believe that God is larger than my problems; (2) Beware of anxious, negative people who speak with great certainty; (3) Learn to function as a less-anxious person; (4) Remember that our God rules.
  • From Mozambique to Millennials, Part 2, Logan Thompson: Logan is a youth minister in Beebe, Arkansas, and delivered what I thought was an absolutely brilliant lecture (I was bummed that I missed Part 1). Logan discussed the three basic types of cultures (Guilt-Innocence, Shame-Honor, Fear-Power) and then discussed atonement theories that naturally fit with these different cultures. From there, he argued that pervasive social media use is basically prompting youth culture to transition from a Guilt-Innocence to Shame-Honor paradigm (I hadn’t made this connection before, but I totally agree), and suggested theosis as an atonement model that is helpful for approaching young people in this context. If this sounds completely nerdy to you, that’s fine; if you are interested in learning more, you can check out an article that Logan co-wrote with Alan Howell here.
  • The Christian’s Essential Reading List, Bob Turner: Bob is the head librarian at HST in Memphis, and was completely in his element here. In a two-part session, Bob suggested six pairs of books (in each pair, one was the type of book that you would find on the NYT bestseller list, and the other was a similar book that you would find in a theological library). In addition to being a lot of fun, these sessions gave me a bunch of books that I want to read (which, actually, is the last thing I need!).
  • Scrapper’s Delight: Ancient Trash and the World of the New Testament, Kevin Burr: This was a bonus, as it was not actually part of the Lectureship proper, but was rather a presentation of the HU Archaeology club by one of my best friends. Kevin talked about ancient trash: scraps of papyrus that have been discovered in various places of Egypt, the stories they tell, and the information they give us about the world of the New Testament. The major takeaway: “The better we know the world around the Bible, the better we can understand the Bible.”

As you can probably tell, I greatly enjoyed my time at Lectureship this year, heard a lot of good content, and left spiritually refreshed (if physically exhausted). I would highly recommend taking part in this next year if you are able!

A packed room for my youth ministry sessions: I think the sensationalist title is what brought them in. 🙂