The approach and philosophy of those who produce some events for Christian women are disappointing. To be clear, not every conference created and designed to encourage and equip Christian women is filled with meaningless pabulum—as a matter of fact, some conferences are outstanding. But for every good conference, it seems as if two spiritually deficient conferences rise to compete for the attention and dollars of women in the church.
At this point you’re probably asking, why is a man writing about conferences for women? That’s a fair question. My wife is an amazing woman—to me, she is a spiritual giant. Not only does she put up with and love me, but she disciples our children, she mentors young women in the church, she works with other ladies to plan ministries designed to ground the women of the church in the gospel. She works from home, she manages the home, and she prays for us. Added to that, she confronts me, she comforts me, she challenges me, and she speaks truth to me. She is one of the strongest, most faithful women I know. So, when she expends resources to lead a group of women from the church to a conference designed for Christian women but comes home disappointed because there were less than 30 minutes of actual Bible teaching, I get frustrated.
The frustration stems from the fact that biblical Christianity teaches that women are equal in value to men. Biblical Christianity teaches that women are worthy of dignity and respect. Throughout history, God has used women to accomplish great things for His purpose and glory, while the gospel has done more to liberate women from sinful oppression than any other force throughout time. So, when women go to a Christian conference, needing and expecting spiritual nourishment from God’s Word—but the Word is scarcely taught, then those women who expected to be filled, leave empty and unsatisfied.
The question must be asked, why do so many conferences that are designed for Christian women choose to almost entirely ignore the gospel? I think there are two reasons for this troubling trend.
The sufficiency of Scripture is not embraced.
We believe the Scripture alone is sufficient to teach a woman how to be a godly wife and mother. We believe the Scripture alone is sufficient to give hope to a woman who is experiencing extreme stress or marital difficulties. We believe the Scripture alone can teach women how to think, how to speak, or how to handle conflict in a way that honors God and preserves their testimony. We believe the Scripture can comfort, encourage, or offer hope during the darkest times of life. In so many of the presentations made at these conferences, the Scripture is used to provide nothing more than excellent illustrations, but the real wisdom—the life-changing advice comes from the experience of the speakers. However, God never promised to change us through encouraging stories. God promised to transform us by His Spirit through the preaching and teaching of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The capacity of Christian women is underestimated .
Those who produce some of these events must believe that women need to be coddled and pacified and the average Christian woman cannot handle being confronted with the Word. They must think that women need to be emotionally moved and not spiritually challenged. They must believe that women can only survive in the shallow end of the theological pool. They must think that women are not smart enough to follow, understand and apply bible exposition. They must believe that a pat on the back, a tug on the heart, and tear in the eye is what women really need. They seem to forget that Pricilla helped explain to Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26) or they missed the part where Paul commended the faith of Lois and Eunice that was instilled in Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Here is the point, no one should underestimate the spiritual capacity of the women God has redeemed and placed in His church to grow the Kingdom and develop disciples.
To be fair, many times the churches that host these events have no control or input concerning the content of the sessions. Furthermore, objective criticism should never be made without providing suggestions for improvement. That being said, I would like to propose a different approach to producing events for Christian women.
First, keep all of the fun. It’s true that ladies need to laugh and enjoy time away from the pressures and stresses of life. However, fun and relaxation should not dominate the agenda.
Second, don’t ignore the genuine needs of the ladies in attendance. It seems as if much effort is intended to meet felt needs, while soul-care is an afterthought or an add-on. Plan events for women that are focused on Christ and built on the Scriptures. Plan events that refuse to sell women short. Plan events that assume women want to be challenged. Plan events based on the belief that women have an amazing capacity to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Plan events that will satisfy the hungry souls of women who slug it out in the workplace. Plan events that will give hope to women who are in failing relationships. Plan events that will push women to evangelize. Plan events that will encourage women as they exhaust themselves training their children. Plan events that will teach women that they are valuable members of the church. Plan events that equip women to mentor other women. Plan events that will care for the soul and that reflect the worth and dignity of our sisters in Christ.
We should always be thankful when any believer takes a risk to meet a need. But we should still look for opportunities to get better, to do more, and to make a more significant impact. Many of these events have the financial resources and the “star-power” to attract thousands of Christian women across the country. Sadly, the platform God has provided to inspire lasting spiritual change is only used to achieve a temporary religious euphoria.
I simply believe Christian women deserve more than spiritual fluff.