This past weekend I spoke at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, NC. There were ten sessions in all, two of them Q & A. The event was well-attended (just under 200 people) and went great. People came from as far as New England. It was nice to meet people who follow this blog, had heard me on the radio, and who had found me via YouTube. It’s always interesting to hear how people find me. It’s also encouraging to meet people who are determined to study Scripture and feed themselves with biblical content when they aren’t getting it from the places they’d like to be getting it.

Personally, I had a lot of fun, both in terms of the sessions and time spent with people outside the event. The response of attendees was very positive. I can’t say enough about the staff at Temple who made everything possible (Senior Pastor Jim Pennington and the Technical and IT Director John Cook). We only had one glitch (more on that below). I’d absolutely do it again, and we’ve already had conversations about doing something in 2016. My wife was able to come with me this time. (For you Facade and Portent readers, I was a little surprised that no one brought her into the Q &A with a question about whether she was Melissa or some other “real life” question). I did, however, meet an enthusiastic fan (Jessica) who will be the namesake for a future character.

The conference was the idea of two people who attend Temple that I met in PA last year (Jay and Amy Bradley). The event is a good example of how “normal” people in a church can make something happen. I’m not a travel enthusiast, but I’m certainly willing to do these sorts of things.

On those occasions when I could unwind, we spent some time talking and thinking about how the event might serve as a model for doing similar events elsewhere. I’ll share some thoughts.

I learned that Temple has a history of inviting speakers with a serious content focus. That helps promote an event within a congregation. But it also helps that the leadership has a track record of teaching people something on Sundays. It’s no surprise that many in the audience had no prior exposure to things like the divine council, but that really isn’t what matters. What matters is that people are taught not to fear thinking about Scripture and are given something to think about on any given Sunday.

Another consideration is that Temple has not been skittish about inviting speakers who don’t share their particular denominational context. In other words, the place has a wider vision than their own Christian sub-culture. That matters for promoting events to the public.

I think those are probably the two most important factors in holding an event like this and having people attend. Temple actually had little lead time on approving my coming and doing any promotion since the senior pastor has only been there for a short time (I recall he told me he’d preached ten Sundays to that point). To his credit, the pastor trusted the people who urged that the event take place.

Temple has posted all the audio for the sessions on its website. This link takes you to the church archive, so to find the audio in the future you’ll need to know the date. At the time of this post, the audio for the Q & A is not yet up on the site, though I am told it will be eventually (those require editing). I don’t as yet have copies of the audio files myself, and I don’t see a way to download the audio from the church website (just play it). [NOTE: I’ve been told if you click on the “i” for “Information” you can download the files – MSH.] I’ll be asking for my own copies of the audio files. The same site has the slides saved as PDF files. However, if you want the actual PowerPoint slides, you can download them here (you can download a free PowerPoint viewer here):

Friday Sessions

Understanding the Post-Modern, Neo-Pagan, Post-Christian World

Science, Science Fiction, and Spirituality, Part 1

Science, Science Fiction, and Spirituality, Part 2

  • This one also includes a 7-minute clip (near the end of the talk) from a YouTube video (play the first seven minutes).

Saturday Sessions

Session 1 – Thinking More Carefully About Biblical Inspiration

Session 2 – Being Honest with the Context of the Bible

Session 3 was Q & A

Session 4 – The Godhead in the Old Testament

Session 5 – The Unseen World and OT Cosmic Geography

Session 6 – The Unseen World and NT Cosmic Geography

Session 7 was Q & A

The glitch I mentioned at the beginning of the post concerns video — the event was not video recorded. The reason was the lighting, which was not conducive to doing so. Hopefully next time that will happen.