Yes, I am a conference junkie
I have been accused of being a “conference junkie”, which I take to mean that I like going to conferences and am an avid encourager of others to come with me. And yes, admittedly I do love a good conference. After a conference this past weekend it became clearer to me why I love this particular activity.
First of all, conferences, and particularly women’s conferences, enable me to enjoy times of sweet fellowship, worship and sharing with other Christian women, who I might not spend time with otherwise. They might be from my own church, from another local church or from across the country. At the last Gospel Coalition Women’s conference in 2018 (TGCW18), Sarah and I ended up talking with a woman in a workshop who it turned out was also from Cincinnati and a former acquaintance of others from ECC. This conversation turned into an opportunity for us to act as hosts for her and her children when she needed a safe place to stay for an extended period of time. That was a pretty dramatic example of the kinds of encounters I enjoy at conferences, but God never ceases to surprise me. Just last weekend, I was able to catch up with friends I see infrequently and hear how God is working in their lives, as well as to learn how I can be praying for them now. And the worship times we shared at the Flourish conference were a time that seemed to draw over 200 women together into one voice, worshiping God together. This is a beautiful thing, my friends.
Conferences also allow me to learn from men and women I might not have heard before. Their teaching style and the content of their talks often inspire me, pushing me to think about how I could be a better teacher or to dig deeper into a subject I want to know more about. At TGCW12, the very first of these conferences, we knew very few of the speakers ahead of time. But I was so excited about the women and men who taught us – I wanted to work harder at studying and teaching to share in the joy that flowed from them as they shared God’s Word with us!
Finally, and this was what really hit me this past weekend at the Flourish conference, conferences address issues that I might not think I need to hear about, but God knows that I really do. As Lydia Brownback shared about self-consciousness, self-indulgence and self-condemnation, I saw needs in all of those areas that I was not fully aware of before and she set me on a good path to addressing those needs in a helpful way. I hardly ever fail to come away from a conference without something that God has used to poke me out of my complacence. So, beware! If you don’t want the Holy Spirit to mess with you, stay away from conferences! I know He can mess with us at any time, but because of the intensity of a conference setting, and the mindset of being open to God’s Word, I find myself often deeply affected by what I have heard, and I have the time to think and pray about it while it is still fresh in my mind and heart. There is something about being away from home (even if it is just across town) that allows me to forget my everyday life and focus on spiritual things for a while during a conference that will not happen in my living room on any given day......
So, join me for the next conference! My favorite is coming up this summer - The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2020 – June 11-13 in Indianapolis. There is already a group of women from ECC coming along, and the more the merrier! I have plenty of hotel rooms reserved for us! It is a great time of sharing together as well as learning from brothers and sisters in Christ. The keynote speakers will work through the book of James and there are workshops on SO many interesting topics! I will be leading a study before the conference, in April and May, to go through the study guide on James that you will receive when you register for the conference. (You can also get the study guide from Amazon, if you want to join us for the study but cannot come to TGCW20.) You can get more information and register here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/tgcw20/ I really hope you will come along and let God shake you up a bit, and enjoy the fellowship of women you know and women you have yet to meet! I am always available to answer questions or talk more about this.
So yes, I am a conference junkie. And happy to admit it!