Our family just returned from the annual Tulsa Workshop. There are several good reasons to go, including the teaching and the fellowship. This year several of my blogging buddies were either in attendance or on the program:
Darin Hamm. I met Darin about nine years ago when we were both preaching in Western Kansas. He is now in the suburbs of Tulsa and knows more about community impact than just about anyone I know. I would recommend the cd of his class to any church leaders or members who want to be proactive in benevolence. I've believed for some time that benevolence should offer a hand-up to the community as opposed to just sitting around waiting for a transient to show up with a hand out before we do anything. What Darin shared was truly inspirational and gives some great ideas for being the body of Christ to our communities.
Trey Morgan. I don't think Trey has an irrelevant bone in his body. Both his speaking and writing hits folks right where they live. His humor and transparency add a very human dimension to whatever he does. His talks at Tulsa are typically standing room only. His topics were practical, biblical, easy-to-follow, and encouraging. Trey's classes have motivated me as a husband and father to keep up what I've been doing right, to repent of what I'm doing wrong, and to start doing what I've neglected. A brief summary of the class he taught on marriage can be found here.
Bobby Valentine. A best friend since we were freshmen in college, Bobby is one reason I went to Tulsa this year. It was high time for us to catch up. Next to my wife and kids I cannot think of anyone with whom I'd rather hang out. Bobby and I have been faithful friends for over two decades, celebrating one anothers' victories and encouraging one another through the terrible rotten times. I was glad to share table fellowship with Bobby at least three times during this year's workshop.
Bobby's classes on the Holy Spirit were awesome. The first made the Book of Joel come alive to me as never before. The second contrasted two historical camps in the Restoration Movement whose radically different views on the Holy Spirit have been influential to this day (and thank the Lord that one has been gradually going out of vogue). The third class was, for the most part, an overview of the Holy Spirit in Paul. I especially appreciated how Bobby contrasted the Platonic and Jewish expectations in regard to final redemption.
While full of compassion, Bobby is a scholar to the core. He must have super human powers that have enabled him to read so many books and retain so much of the information. He always inspires me to go study.
Other bloggers included Tim Archer manning the booth for Herald of Truth. He also taught a class, but I was unable to attend. I did buy a copy of Letters from the Lamb which Tim co-wrote with Steve Ridgell. I'll review it here once I've read it. I also ran into Steve Tucker and John Dobbs.
Of course we heard a few of the "big guns" including Jeff Walling, Rick Atchley, Don McLaughlin, and Randy Harris. My wife saw several music groups and attended classes on teaching children, my son attended teen classes, and my daughter was present at classes relating to elementary Sunday School.
I go to Tulsa as much for the fellowship as I do for the talks. I enjoyed time with Ron Davis, my successor who took the pulpit position I left in Kansas. I am so glad he was hired. He is exactly what the congregation needs, possessing strengths in areas where I was not as strong during my time there. If I could have hand-picked my successor I could not have done any better than Ron.
I also ran into Wyeth Wright, the former youth minister of that same congregation in Kansas along with his lovely wife and darling children. They continue to work with youth in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
I'm pleased to report that one of our current elders, along with his wife, also came to the Workshop this year, all the way from up here in Ohio. I really admire an elder, or anyone for that matter, who will use some of their off time and go to the expense of attending a spiritual event.
When I say "expense" I speak of gas, meals, and lodging. But the Workshop itself is a FREE event. The churches of Christ is one of the few fellowships to still offer such events without registration fees. A big thank you to Terry Rush and all the volunteers at the Memorial Drive congregation for making this possible. It was a spiritual feast.