I was about as excited to attend the National Conference on Preaching as I would've been to mow a football field with a push mower. I don't like conferences, especially the ones targeted toward middle aged pastors wearing Sans-a-belt's and shiny golf shirts who like to mill around in the hallways between sessions touting their church's gaudy attendance numbers. Not to mention the fact that I don't do a lot of preaching, making it all the more strange that I would attend a conference geared to help preachers craft their art.
I must say, however, that this conference was one of the best I've attended since surrendering to Christian ministry in 1996. The highlight was a message by Haddon Robinson, the great professor of homiletics at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Boston, MA. Robinson is not a pretty man. He has a face made for radio, but his presence is unmistakable. He spoke about using your imagination while preaching. His contention: most pastors forsake any use of imagination and creativity when addressing the Bible.
Robinson became my new hero when he shared about Jephtha, the mighty warrior mentioned in Judges 11. Jephtha's mother was a prostitute, and Robinson challenged us to see life from his perspective. Always being reminded by his peers that his mom was a dirty whore. Never being able to forget that he was a bastard. It was a shocking display.
Anyone who can preach a successful sermon to a group of stiff pastors and use the terms "whore" and "bastard" is worthy of recognition! I loved Robinson's boldness, and his delivery was captivating. Sign me up for next year's National Conference on Preaching. I may even buy a pair of Sans-a-belt's!!