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For the majority of my Christian walk, I would attend just about any women’s conference I could with my church. I enjoyed going with my church versus on my own because I saw it as a bonding experience among the women, a chance to fellowship, and an opportunity to retreat into worship and teaching. A few years ago, my good friend mentioned The Gospel Coalition’s conferences to me. As a church we were not going to it, I had limited funds and opportunities to get away, and there certainly wouldn’t be any group discounts on tickets or rooms for me that year. So, I turned her down despite her glowing review of the speakers and workshops.
The next year, she asked again. I said yes. I had no idea what I was setting myself up for either. This particular year was the 2014 Women’s Conference, and the speakers were going to explore the book of Nehemiah. I registered for the conference, selected my workshops and focus groups. I even received an invitation to a special writers workshop. The date approached, I was eager with anticipation at what this new conference was going to be like. There was no way that I could have known the profound impact that conference, and the following year’s conference, would have on my life.
It is my desire to share these experiences with you, as you may be sitting on the fence of decision.
The first blessing I received at the conference was watching the scales of how I was reading the scriptures fall from my eyes. I had spent too much time looking at the scriptures for “me” in the pages. I was trapped in asking how a piece of scripture applied to my life, or what it meant for me. Instead, I should have been seeking God first in His Word. It seemed so obvious. As if this was something I should have always known, but somehow missed.
Throughout the conference another friend kept coming to mind, she and her family had gone on a missions trip to Nicaragua. It was very apparent to all of us, upon their return, that a piece of their hearts was left behind. There would be comments made throughout the weekend that would draw my thoughts to this family. I would write her name down in my notes, circling tidbits I felt compelled to tell her. I would message her every night recapping these things. She would reply to my messages in excitement because the very things I was conveying to her… were the very things the Lord was laying on her husband’s heart at the same time. What a blessing to see the Lord work in such a way! He was sending her confirmation, and she wasn’t even at the conference!
As if having the scales removed from my vision of study wasn’t enough, the next blessing I would gain from the conference was attending Carrie Sandom’s two “Bible Tool Kit” workshops. The scales were gone, and the Lord was putting the tools into my hands that would enable me to see the bigger picture of the scriptures. It began a stirring in me that would push me in to deeper study and begin to shape my views on the importance of Bible literacy.
The final blessing from the conference came during the Writers Workshop. Several women who were successfully writing for their own blogs and even became published authors were available to share their experience with us. This workshop was the fire I needed to begin putting my thoughts to paper; as I began to look inside myself, the world around me, examine my faith and beliefs, and finesse my writing. This was just the catalyst for something more to come.
In 2015, I attended The Gospel Coalition Conference again, it was time for the second step in the journey. This go around, I would examine the importance of Bible literacy in more depth. There was motivation to write more, about deeper things. I would be catapulted into pursuing my Bachelors in Divinity Degree. I would pick up a copy of Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word in the Exhibition Hall, which would result in my teaching about Bible Literacy through five small group studies over the next year. Then, ultimately writing a course on Women’s Ministry for Christian Leaders Institute.
As the 2016 Women’s Conference for The Gospel Coalition approaches, I find myself growing more and more excited. I am looking forward to seeing what God is going to expose my heart to. My mind longs for the opportunity to hear from some of my favorite voices on theology. My heart longs for the continuation of this refinement in my life. This is not the conference where we get lost in the worship songs that we hear on the radio, but instead it is the one where we get lost inside the Word of God. It is truth spoken in concert from those God has called to teach and lead. It has become one of the most valuable resources for me as a place to pull away from the world, and into a congregation of believers who call to the Lord to pour more of Himself into our minds, hearts, and lives.
God is still doing a work in me. I’ve seen more growth in the last two years than ever before, and I credit that growth to those the Lord has commissioned to invest in me. These are men and women who spoke at a conference, to a room full of faces. They couldn’t know the impact their words would have on that gal, sitting somewhere in the middle, hand cramped from taking notes.
If you have found yourself on the fence, wondering if this is the conference for you… I would encourage you consider this investment. With all of the great speakers in line for the plenary sessions and the workshops being offered, this is an opportunity to let the Lord pour into you. And, who knows… perhaps your journey is about to take off!