This week I’ve been with Chad at a preaching conference. As you might imagine, at a Baptist conference for preachers, there weren’t too many women around. In fact, although I think there were two other women there, in some sessions I was the only woman in the room. One room was filled to capacity, and men were standing against the wall or sitting on the floor. Chad and I came in and found a spot on the floor, but as soon as the opening prayer was over, a white-headed pastor stood and offered me his seat. I tried to refuse, but he smiled at me sincerely and said, “Ma’am, I could not sit there while you are sitting on the floor.” Everywhere I looked I saw men seeking God earnestly, great men who love Christ and love His church, men who are doing their best to give their best to the Savior. It was inspiring, to say the least.
I heard amazing preaching. I was moved to tears more than once. I sat and listened as an 84 year old pastor spoke: “YOU are your message,” he told them. “You have to live what you preach.” And, I felt that truth deeply as I sat there, wondering how well that I live out my own words, written to you. My message falls short at times. I fall short.
It would be difficult for me to express to you, really, how much this conference meant to me. What it did for my heart and soul and mind. It would be hard to explain how important it was for Chad and me to be there together, even though I may have been a little out of place. In two and a half days, we heard eleven amazing sermons. We heard theories of persuasion, discussions about rhetorical strategies and proper exegesis. We heard some of the best teaching on studying the scripture that I’ve ever heard.
And, the entire time, I wondered why these aren’t the kinds of things that I hear at women’s conferences.
Now, I get it. It was an event for pastors. The average women’s conference would not need a break-out session about the best use of illustrations in sermons. But, which of us wouldn’t benefit from learning, step-by-step, how to read Scripture? How to outline a passage that we read so that we actually understand it? Which of us doesn’t need to hear the importance of serious Bible study and practical ways to go through a book of the Bible? Which one of us women would not be changed forever by an entire weekend of instruction in studying our Bibles, since this is where real life change happens? This is the only way for us to BE the message of Scripture–we have to KNOW what that message is first.
The truth is that someone out there doesn’t expect that women would show up for that kind of conference. And, I guess that’s a question we have to ask ourselves: would we? Are we satisfied with women’s event after women’s event that insists that women need only to talk about our feelings and get tips on the best way to make a chore chart for our kids? Would we rather go to women’s events just to hear speakers tell us how great we are, how we’re doing fine, how beautiful we are? Would we jump at the chance to go to a seminary someplace for a weekend, just to listen to a bunch of men teach us how to understand what the Holy Spirit is communicating to us in the Scripture?
That is the kind of women’s conference that most of us need.
Are we up to it?
There’s plenty of talk in the church today about families. Revolutionize the families for Christ, and you revolutionize the church for Christ, we say. But, we mamas are struggling. Struggling to figure out how to teach our kids the truth. Struggling to figure out what the answers are to all of these confusing questions that the world is throwing at our little families. Struggling to know which way is right. Struggling to figure out how to keep on the narrow way. And, one reason we’re struggling is because women are continuously given a steady diet of spiritual milk. It’s hard to get strong enough to carry the spiritual load for you and your babies when you are malnourished. It’s hard to teach your family when you aren’t even sure of what you know yourself.
We need doctrine. We need theology. We need clear instruction in studying the Scripture. We need less self-focus and more God-focus. We need to be expected to study. We need to be encouraged to grow.
This is a tough time in history to be a Christian wife and mother. The advice pours in from every direction, and most of it is contrary to God’s word. How will we train up our children in the way they should go? How will we know which way is right? How will we live out the message of Scripture? How will we ever really know who God is and grow in our love for Him?
Only if the church begins to recognize that we need more than afternoon teas and parenting classes. I love afternoon teas and have learned plenty from parenting classes, but where is the teaching that challenges us to know what we believe? Why are the men learning theology while the women eat salad and make crafts?
Something has to change. It starts with me and you. It starts in our churches. It starts with a few women deciding that they want to dive deep into His word and not come up again until they have found the spiritual ribeye that every woman needs, even if she doesn’t know it. It’s time.