INSIDE STORY: PTC is short for Preacher Training FUN
That was my first reaction to Caleb Templeton’s description of PTC — Preacher Training Camp, that is.
For the third straight summer, Templeton, now an 18-year-old freshman at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., spent a week eating, sleeping and studying Scripture at the Lewisville Church of Christ building, north of Dallas.
“We have tons of fun,” Templeton, a member of the Keller Church of Christ, north of Fort Worth, assured me. “If the professional chef who owns his own restaurant but takes off a week to cook for us doesn’t catch your interest, I don’t know what will.”
He was talking about Lewisville church member Frank Brightwell, who owns two “Local Diner” restaurants — yes, that’s the name — in the Dallas area.
You mean I can have a cooked-to-order omelet for breakfast? Suddenly, PTC is sounding like much more fun.
“Every evening, we have an activity that always seems to get better every year,” Templeton said. “This year, we played broom ball on an ice-skating rink, went to SpeedZone, toured the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium and played lots of ping pong.”
But PTC is really not about the fun. It’s about training young men — from high school to college age — to dig deeper in God’s word and contemplate filling the pulpits of the future.
“The goal is to encourage young men who have an interest in preaching and help them learn to develop a message and hopefully help them learn to deliver it,” said Jeff Jenkins, minister of the Lewisville church, which welcomed 48 young men from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to its ninth annual PTC.
Said Templeton: “If I had to choose one thing that everyone can gain from attending this camp, it would be the ability to really learn something from reading the Scriptures. My study habits have improved dramatically, because in order to prepare a good lesson, you have to be able to identify the points made by the different authors of the Bible.”
The Lewisville camp is just one of a number of preacher training camps across the nation. Other churches that host such camps include the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, the North MacArthur Church of Christ in Oklahoma City and the Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville, Ind.
Youth minister Steve Minor, who directs the North MacArthur camp. said he’s not interested in training future preachers.
“I want our guys to be preaching now, and they are, and leading and evangelizing and (doing) the things that God calls us to do,” Minor said. “We’re trying to develop that passion in our young men to do it right now … and we give them avenues to do that.”
PTC isn’t exactly a new idea.
The Pennington Bend Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn., started a future minister training camp more than 30 years ago.
David Young, teaching minister for the North Boulevard Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has a quarter-century-plus of ministry experience.
But as a boy, he twice attended Pennington Bend’s camp.
“We worked on lessons, visited funeral homes, hospitals and nursing homes, practiced baptizing and performing weddings, visited the Gospel Advocate and spent a lot of time discussing what it means to be a minister,” Young recalled.
What, no fun?
“In the evenings, we would eat member-prepared meals and swim in a member’s pool,” he said.
One of Young’s favorite memories involves taking showers outside the church building, where the directors hung water hoses over a back wall.
Years later, one word comes to mind for Young: Freezing!
“The camp was wonderful and helped make firm my desire to be a full-time minister,” Young said. “The directors filled the week with joy, purpose, camaraderie and a sense of importance. I’ve never forgotten the two weeks I spent there.”
Last summer, those memories prompted Young to start a future minister training camp at North Boulevard. Nine young men attended the first camp.
This summer, 13 signed up.
No word on whether a professional chef and ice-cold showers are a part of the fun.