Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On women's conferences and a growing passion for God's Word

I attended my first women's conference over thirteen years ago. It was a Beth Moore conference, in the early years of her speaking circuit, with only a couple thousand attendees. So small, in fact, that its venue was a church and she did book signings in between sessions, if you can believe it.

As I said, it was my first such event and I was blown away. It seems strange to us now, in our information saturated culture of Twitter and Facebook and internet and blogs, to think that I really had no idea what to expect. All I knew of women's Bible studies was the display at the LifeWay store in the big city. That plus the Christianbook catalog were my only sources of what was happening in the up and coming world of women's ministry. Remember, this was before the DVD. I don't even think my husband had talked me into a computer and internet for the house yet! Up to that point, my only framework for ministry to women had little to do with the Bible or any sort of in depth Bible study but rather more to do with our monthly missions meetings (a good and excellent ministry in its own right).

So, yeah, as you can see, I was blown away.

So I became something of a women's conference junkie. My heart stirred by the realization that the Bible could be known and studied with a level of depth and passion that I had never before encountered, I began facilitating and leading Bible studies for the women in my church and planning trips to conferences all around the southeast. We would buy tickets and make hotel reservations well over a year in advance; we would stand in line along with the thousands of women seeking a fresh word, a fresh experience, a front row seat.

I try to think now what I was really seeking then through all my conference road trips. What appealed to me so? Some accused me, half teasingly, of being a Beth Moore groupie, an appellation I resented and resisted. True, we attended far more Living Proof Live conferences than any other; it's also true that Beth, like her or not, has an uncanny ability to relate to her audience as if you are all BFF's. Though I too considered Beth a friend, I honestly don't think it was she who inspired so many road trips but rather her infectious desire for women to be engaged in Bible study. I understand some find fault with her approach to Bible study but for me, at that point in my journey, she offered something I had never before experienced. In my ignorance her instruction seemed a feast to me, I who up until then had no idea I was starving.

As you know, if you've read this blog for any length of time, I grew somewhat disillusioned both with the big conference experience as well as the neatly edited, beautifully packaged studies marketed to women. I began to deliberately avoid video driven studies, not because I thought them evil in and of themselves, but rather because I began to observe a tendency in myself and others to study the study and yes even the teacher over and above the Bible itself. My approach to leading Bible study changed and my conference attendance waned. While I remain profoundly grateful for all those conferences I attended and the hours of video instruction I received, I find myself hungering for a substantive, serious study of the Scripture. I love God's Word. I want to know how to carefully examine it and study it and know it. I am weary of studies that are about me, me, me, full of fluff and empty panaceas. Though I often feel ill equipped both as a Bible student and certainly as a Bible teacher, I want to press on to the deep things of the Lord, to the meat of Scripture.

I do not say such as a boast nor as an indictment of specific authors or speakers. However, I do believe it is our privilege and our responsibility--as believers, as women, as wives and moms and sisters and daughters, as passionate followers of Christ desperate for His grace and desirous of His glory--it is our privilege to know His Word, to be women of theology and doctrine, and for His Word to be living and active in our lives. Therefore I am so excited about The Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference next June. Watch this video and see if you don't get excited as well!


The Gospel Coalition describes the conference as being...

...for women but not all about women. It’s about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to learn more of what Scripture says to us—and to say it to each other. A time to dig deeper into the character of God and his purpose for his people. A time to gather together and share biblical encouragement as sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, and friends. Several renowned Bible teachers, including three TGC founding members, will explore the theme “Here Is Our God!” by guiding us through the Bible’s unfolding revelation of God to human eyes and hearts. Plenaries will offer exposition of biblical texts in which the Lord shows himself to his people. Seminars will feature women living out the Word, seeing and serving God with transformed and transforming lives. 

"Dig deeper...share biblical encouragement...guiding us through the Bible's unfolding revelation...exposition of biblical texts...living out the Word..." Yes and amen! Sign me up! I don't know yet if I'll be able to attend but I sure hope I can! Anyone else excited? Who is going?

Interested in finding out more? Read the conference details here.

8 comments:

  1. Maybe they'll have a similar conference again in Atlanta or Birmingham or even Nashville. I can't justify a splurge on round-trip airfare. I wish it wasn't such a big deal to spend that much money, but that's my life.

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  2. I'm working out the details of going with a friend. We'll find space in our room if you choose to go.

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  3. Awesome! Thanks! I will definitely keep that in mind. I have a couple of friends also thinking about going so I actually have a hotel reservation, just in case. :) If that falls through, I will be letting you know...

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  4. I completely understand. Orlando is so far away! I don't know if or how I will find transportation either... So I totally agree: yes, more conferences! and closer!!!

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  5. Oh, and should you get there and I get there, however we get there, you're welcome to share my room and cut expense for us both!

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  6. I'm deeply appreciative of the thoughts you've shared here, Lisa. And, I am really trying to scrape together the round-trip airfare to make it to this conference.

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  7. I would love to be able to go, but the timing is just not good. My son is graduating from high school around that time, and I just can't take the time. Not a huge fan of Florida weather, anyway. You will so enjoy Kathleen Nielson's speaking, though!

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  8. Wishing I could go, but with so many unknowns in our lives right now, there's no way I can plan that far ahead.

    Our journeys are so similar. I did the whole Beth-Moore-and-other-conference-circuit for years, but have been over it for a while. I've found I'd rather study the Word in my recliner than anywhere else.

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