In the Great Smoky Mountains, feeding the spiritual needs of 5,000

Polishing the Pulpit, an annual gathering in East Tennessee, draws a record crowd.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — “Bring a Friend Night” at the Polishing the Pulpit conference gave the thousands of attendees an opportunity to introduce people to “the church that belongs to Christ.”

“Meet a friend in town — hotel worker, waitress, someone at Walmart — and bring them to hear the gospel,” the event program urged.

Minister Dan Winkler began his sermon by explaining why he’d never be a member of the Baptist church, even though he believes in baptism “with all my heart.” And why he’d never be a member of the Methodist church, even though he believes in proper methodology. And why he’d never be a member of the Assemblies of God, even though he believes in assembling on the first day of the week.

Then he added: “I am not, nor do I ever want to be, a member of the Church of Christ, if by that terminology we mean a denomination among denominations in competition for memberships from all denominations.”

Winkler proceeded to open his Bible and explain why he wants to “belong to the church that belongs to Christ.”

The message found a receptive audience among the crowd that gathered recently at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains — in the hometown of Dolly Parton — for the 24th annual Polishing the Pulpit.

“I think he laid it out,” said Chris Butler, minister for the 60-member Philadelphia Church of Christ in Mississippi. “It was true to Scripture. If you want to follow Jesus, that’s what you have to teach and believe.

“Obviously, I don’t think you should ever be ugly in the way you say it or the way you present it,” said Butler, a Memphis School of Preaching graduate. “But I think you have to be faithful to it, and I just don’t know how you could preach another version.”

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This story appears in the October 2018 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

 

Author: Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning journalist who has reported from all 50 states and 14 countries.