A few years ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning with a rant on my mind. It was sparked by nothing in partcular, just one of those things I felt like writing. So after breakfast and during the tinies’ morning cartoons, I sat in our old brown leather chair and pounded out a quick post about women’s ministry. It took about 30 minutes, all told. I pressed publish and hopped off my soapbox, ready to move on.
So here is my suggestion: Please stop treating womens’ ministry like a Safe Club for the Little Ladies to Play Church.
We are smart. We are brave. We want to change the world. We run marathons for our sisters, not so that we can lose weight. We have more to offer to the church than our mad decorating skills. I look around and I can see that these women can offer strategic leadership, wisdom, counsel and even, yes, teaching. We want to give and serve and make a difference. We want to be challenged. We want to read books and talk politics, theology and current events. We want to wrestle through our theology. We want to listen to each other. We want to worship, we want to intercede for our sisters and weep with those who weep, rejoice with those that rejoice, to create life and art and justice with intention.
And then, as these things always go, it was one of the first posts I wrote that went, well, I guess as “viral” as I’ve ever written – which of course is a relative term. That little rant was picked up by magazines and bloggers and Facebook and Pinterest. It was dissected and parsed and refuted and celebrated from one end of our little Internet ghetto to the other. ChurchLeaders picked it up and then it became one of their top posts of 2011. Even now, two years later, it’s one of my most read posts every week.
(If I would have known people were going to actually read the damn thing, I probably would have worded a few things differently.)
I read that post now and it seems like a lifetime ago. A lot has changed in me and in my opinions since that post was written. First of all, I’ve sworn off the concept of “Open Letters” entirely because I think they’re a passive-aggressive cop-out, designed to make us sound inclusive and holy when we’re really just wanting to rant on a soapbox without ramifications or relationship. And second, I was painting in broad strokes, a bit sloppy, and general. I lacked grace and nuance. And finally, I’ve had my bluff called so completely, so entirely, in terms of my views on women’s ministry that – wouldn’t you know it? – being with women and coming alongside of other women has become tied up with my sense of calling and vocation and work.
Serves me right, eh?
But the core of that post – the longing for more, the longing for women to arise, to gather, to rest in their created worth, to know their belovedness – is true.
As the years have passed, a few of my friends actually wanted to do something about this. For me, it started with a phone call with Jennie Allen a few years ago. Amazingly, I’d never heard of her – we move in different circles and come from different traditions – but right off the bat, I loved her. I loved her curiosity, her passion, her intensity, her focus, her sense of fun. We connected on that phone call and she talked about the seed of this idea and I thought, well, if she’s part of it, I want to be there. Then I discovered her work and then we went to Haiti together last October and it became even more clear to me that this was, well, good. Together with a group of her advisors (think Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, Angie Smith, Christine Caine, and about 50 more women), she’s pulled together a crazy dream.
(Even the leadership team is a crazy mish-mish of ideologies and theologies and priorities. It’s a risk to gather.)
But here is our dream: we want to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.
And we want to all do it together, instead of divided and apart. This is community driven, story driven, friendship-driven gathering. And I want to invite you to join us.
A fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: IF God is real… THEN what? This 2-day conference brings women together and wrestles out how to live out the calling God has placed on our lives. // Austin, TX Feb. 7–8 2014
We’re still in the planning stages, so a lot of details will follow. In the meantime, mark the date on your calendar, sign up for the e-newsletter for announcements, and start tucking away a bit of money for your flight.
This dream for a gathering was born out of relationships, one after another. More and more women in our generation were looking at each other and saying “You, too? ME, TOO!” about these things. And we found each other somehow in living rooms and airports, conferences and blogs, and now we want to gather intentionally to unleash and equip a generation of women who are loved and free.
We’re a very different bunch – which, I’ll be honest, intimidates me. I’m not sure how I feel about all these different theologies and denominations, opinions and passions, all gathered together in one place, but I’ll tell you what: it’s worth the risk to me. It’s worth it.
If I believe that God’s global church is big and glorious and inclusive, then I want to meet my sisters with arms wide open, with ears to hear and eyes to see.
Read more about the IF:Gathering today here: