Learning, Flexibility, and Themes – Festival of Homiletics 2018: Part 2

Read Part 1 of this series on experiences from the Festival of Homiletics 2018 here!

Why “Continue Education”?

Continuing education is such an important piece to our ministry. As pastors, we call our people to be in continual learning as we grow together in our maturity in Christ. And so, as a pastor, continuing education opportunities provide space for those kinds of growth. Continuing education might be conferences, books, and other resources that help to me to grow in my ministry. It might be on preaching, on pastoral care, or even on church structures.

Whatever it might be, continuing education helps to stretch pastors, to challenge us, and to fill us. It’s a time of renewal for our minds and our hearts. Even if that time of renewal comes from resources found in books. Continuing education, for me anyway, is integral to ministry.

Finding Flexibility

And so in 2017 when I realized that there was not enough time in the world for me to use my entire continuing education budget on books, I began to look ahead to 2018. Working with our church council, we decided to be flexible. Because of our location, most of the continuing education conferences and workshops require flights and hotel stays. Although registration fees aren’t too high, it’s the travel that fills up my budget.

So we decided and voted to roll over my 2017 continuing education budget to 2018, and I began to research what events were available. Lo and behold, the Festival was coming up again, this time in Washington D.C.!

Falling into place

I plan time away a year, sometimes further, in advance. So, I was actually a bit behind in August 2017 when I told Council that I would be attending the Festival of Homiletics in May 2018 as my continuing education for 2017 and 2018.

At that time, registration hadn’t even opened up yet. But from the photos and posts of colleagues and friends who attended in San Antonio, I knew what a gift this continuing education opportunity would be. I was hopeful for new insights in my preaching, for a time of renewal, to be challenged in my learning as a pastor. And I knew the timing would be great for Greg and Hadley to come with me, for us to see some friends who live in the area once the conference ended, and for me to see our country’s capitol.

I couldn’t wait!

Really? That’s the theme?

So in November, months after I had already begun the planning for the trip. Long after Council had approved the expenses. The registration site opened, and excitedly I raced to the page to purchase my spot at the conference. That’s when I learned the theme for this year’s Festival.

There it was, front page of the site: “Register now for Festival of Homiletics 2018: Preaching and Politics.”

How did I get here? I thought about looking for a different conference instead. The idea exhausted me, because honestly in our day and age, politics are exhausting. For me as a pastor sometimes doubly so, being called to serve all of God’s children regardless of their political party.

And it was for that reason that I realized this might be the best continuing education I could participate in – because of our political climate, the division between us, and the call to unity we receive in Christ.

And so, I continued to wonder, what if a conference on preaching and politics, however is exactly what I’m needing this year?

This post is the second in a seven-part series on experiences at the Festival of Homiletics 2018, stay tuned for upcoming parts to this series!

Pastor Megan Filer

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