I’m Happy

Nearly 900 women have registered to attend The Gospel Coalition national conference in Chicago in April, and that makes me really happy.

I’m happy because for a while it seemed to me that there wasn’t a place for me at the gospel-centered conferences that interested me as a woman who wants to grow in my ability to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). I looked at pictures from various equipping conferences and couldn’t find female faces. And I don’t generally like showing up at parties I haven’t been invited to (although there was that one time I went to a Christmas party at the wrong house that was down the street from the party I was actually invited to and ended up staying a while).

I’m happy that I will get to sit under so many sound teachers and observe the tools they use, the tack they take, and the pitfalls they avoid in effectively presenting Christ from the Old Testament.

I’m happy because I’m glad so many women are embracing a conference that is primarily about equipping preachers to preach and teachers to teach the Bible as one story of God’s plan of redemption through Christ. Because while the Bible may be taught this way from a church’s pulpit on Sunday, this approach does not always make its way into the women’s Bible studies offered Monday through Friday.

I’m happy because I’m hopeful this large number reflects a growing desire among women’s ministry leaders to move away from primarily offering topical studies that pick and choose verses from the Bible to make a point and toward Bible book studies that deepen our ability to grasp the Bible’s storyline and major themes. This is what equips us to make more sound application as we discuss passages in small groups and study it on our own.

I’m happy because I’m sure that all of the pastors who are coming forwarded registration information about the conference to the budding women Bible teachers in their churches as a way of encouraging their growth in Bible teaching skills and pointing them toward sound resources for use in women’s ministry. (You did, right?)

I’m happy because so many of my friends will be there—including nearly 900 I just haven’t met yet. (Is it possible to have too many women friends who want to think through the scriptures and talk about the scriptures and live out the scriptures?)

If you are not yet one of these 900 women, what can I say? I’m sad you can’t be there and I hope your plans might change. But if you are one of those 900 women, I look forward to seeing you at The Gospel Coalition national conference. And when you see me there, just smile and say, “I’m happy too.”

  • Jule

    I’m also happy to hear such wonderful news. I too have longed to go to some conferences similar to the one you are referring to but didn’t know if women were welcome.

    Great to here that more and more women want to seriously dig into the Word, learn about theology, and improve their ability to discern the Truth from false teaching. Unfortunately it seems like more and more “popular” teachers/preachers are not staying true to the Word but instead are putting falsehoods in sheeps clothing (so to speak) and passing them off as the truth.

    I’m thankful for men and women of God who will not compromise the Gospel in order to make it more palitable.

  • http://www.squarepeggedness.wordpress.com Rachael Starke

    I’m happy I get to come and that so many others will be there!

    I didn’t want to derail Justin’s post quoting J.I.Packer quoting Martyn Lloyd Jones (brother probably needed a serious vacation after the Rob Bell craziness). But here, just amongst us girls ;), I’ll confess that Lloyd-Jones’ comment at seeing a couple women at a Puritan conference as “just about getting a man” really stung. I’m charitably assuming he was voicing the prevailing sentiment of the time – that theology was for men and homemaking was for women. But decades after he made that statement, look where our society is! Look what our women read, if they read at all! For all that we pick on men for their failings, I think one of the biggest failings of women is that we have abdicated the need to think and study deeply about the nature of God to men, as if it was not our responsibility also. We have not prayerfully and humbly asked our church leaders to help. This conference is a big, public step in a right and wonderful direction.

    Thanks for all you’ve already done to make it happen – can’t wait to meet you. :)

  • Robin

    Wow! It will be a far different group than at the last GC conference. My daughter and I were constantly asked if we were “there with someone.” She started telling the men who asked that we were pastors. We are not pastors; but she loved seeing their shocked expressions before telling them we were there because we love the gospel. Having so few women did make the bathroom breaks a breeze. The guys line was 50 feet long and we just walked in anytime we wanted!! I guess we will have to learn to share.
    It will be wonderful to blend in and have some sessions exclusively devoted to women’s issues. I was excited to see women as speakers. I am a part of a ministry that allows me to mentor women who are passionate about the Word and the gospel message. I am so looking forward to what I can bring home to them from the conference. I love that my husband, a surgeon, and myself, a photographer, can have a “vacation” that includes such authentic and biblical teaching. The gospel is for all of us. Thanks!!!

  • Georgiegirl

    Wish I were one of those women who will be there. Ever since grad. school (where I had a friend who drove from Lexington to Nashville just to go to your church!) I had this desire to write real studies for women because I was so disappointed in what was available. I never really understood why there were even studies geared only for women (I no longer feel that way really). God answered that dream and now I write the study notes for our women’s group at church. We’re not a large church, but we’ve got 50 women who are committed to serious study of God’s word. We’ve covered books like Romans, Hebrews, James, among others and are not afraid to think deeply and even struggle with hard topics.
    Have fun at the conference!

  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com Kim Shay

    I’m going to be there, and I am so thrilled for the opportunity. I wish there were more conferences like this for women,

  • http://www.lisaspence.com Lisa Spence

    I’m happy too and wish I was going to be among the 900 of my sisters and fellow Bible teachers!

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    I’m happy a woman like you is allowed to blog @ TGC – I don’t read here every day but I think this is the first time I’ve seen an indication that women are allowed to be part of the gospel coalition. :-)

    And its good to see women treating serious biblical and body life topics at this conference as well.

    Maybe some day I’ll be able to attend something like this.

    I’ve often appreciated this mutual respect and diversity at CCEF conferences and am glad to see God working to help pastors see the value of equipping women to employ their gifts in other parts of the evangelical body.

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  • http://awildernesslife.blogspot.com Laura

    @Robin, LOL!! :D Two of my girlfriends and I, when we were in seminary, used to tell guys who asked why we were there that we were going to plant a church in which we would be, respectively, head elder, music pastor, and men’s discipleship leader. You’d be amazed at how many people took us seriously! ;)

    I too am VERY encouraged to know that so many women will be at TGC! Praise God for giving his daughters a desire to know him more.

    • http://aarondarlington.com Aaron Darlington

      @Laura: You made me laugh imagining the responses to you preparing to be the men’s discipleship leader.

      I’m also quite happy to see so many women pursuing God. I only wish there were such conferences and materials available to my wife in Spanish.

  • FISH

    So much that could really be said here. I supposed, “I am happy too” is sufficient. Looking forward to it.

  • christine

    my best friend and i will be attending! we are so excited to be going to TGC!! :)