Oh my goodness! I’m so stoked. I just got word that registration is now open for the first ever Center for Pastor Theologians annual conference, which will be held in Chicago this November (2-4). And if you love theology, ministry, people, and Jesus (not in that order), then you won’t want to miss this one! It’s going to go down as a great turning point in church history. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top. But I’m positive that it’s going to be a killer conference. Just look at the lineup of speakers:
Peter Leithart — "The Pastor Theologian as Biblical Theologian" James K. A. Smith — "The Pastor Theologian as Political Theologian" Kevin Vanhoozer — "The Pastor Theologian as Public Theologian"
Other speakers include: Phil Ryken, David Dockery, Mickey Klink, Todd Wilson, Gerald Hiestand (the founder of the CPT), and many others. But good conferences are much more than just good speakers. And that’s why this conference will rock. It probably won’t be very big—maybe a couple hundred people at best. This means that you’ll be able to connect with fellow pastors and leaders around the country, who care deeply about both theology and ministry. There won’t be any bells and whistles, no smoke machines or celebrity worship leaders. No high prices or 5 point “how to” sermons that insult your intelligence. Just some theologically rich, church-centered, Jesus-glorifying, interdenominational conversations that will challenge your thinking and compel your heart to love God and others more deeply.
That’s what the CPT does. It seeks to bring theology back to the church where it belongs. For too long, deep theological reflection only wondered the dusty halls of the university, and over time it grew distant from the church. Theological questions were being raised, but they weren’t the questions raised by pastors in the trenches of ministry.
But this isn’t the way it used to be. For much of church history, the greatest theologians were also the greatest pastors: Turtullian, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and Wesley—all pastors; all theologians. Theology belongs in the church, and pastors should be its primary practitioners.
This is why the CPT got started back in the late 2006. Gerald Hiestand (its founder) had a passion to bring deep, critical, constructive, pastorally driven and academically rigorous theology back into the pews where it belongs. When I first joined this group, it went by the more sexy name of “The Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology.”
Okay, so maybe it just seemed sexy for book nerds like us. Anyway, it took us a few years, but we now have a more palatable name: The Center for Pastoral Theologians. Still a little geeky, but hey. It works. We’ve been meeting in Chicago every year since 2006 (my annual excuse to slam down some Chicago deep dish, the only meal that escaped out of Eden). And now, for the first time in its history, the CPT is opening its doors to the public and hosting this first ever national conference, which is titled: “The Pastor Theologians: Identities and Possibilities.”
If you have one conference in your budget, I’d pick this one.
November 2-4. Register now.
See you there!