my take-away from TGCW12

I had the privilege of spending last weekend in Orlando at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference with over 3500 women. It was a marathon of speakers and workshops, punctuated by coffee breaks and quick calls home to check in with loved ones. I knew why I had come: last summer I sat transfixed at my computer as Kathleen Nielson spoke about her hope for the conference, and about the need for sound teaching by women to women. I heard her saying exactly what I had been saying for ten years, and I sat there and sobbed. Then I blew my nose and started saving my pennies. As a retreat speaker, I don’t look for extra opportunities to spend a weekend away from my family with an accumulation of women, but there was no way I was missing this.

Were the speakers edifying? Absolutely. Were the seminars informative? Yes. But the image that stays with me from last weekend is this: young women, hordes of them, some still in their work clothes, some with strollers, some eight months pregnant, some with that look a girl gets when she knows her family is probably eating Cheerios and Skittles for dinner and she.just.doesn’ for the next forty-eight hours. Some of them from a thousand miles away. All of them out-of-their-minds excited to be taught, and taught well.

Do you know why I cried at my computer last summer? I cried because I want to end the crisis of biblical illiteracy in the church. I cried because I am determined to rescue a generation of young women from a faith grounded only in the shifting sands of emotionalism. I cried out of sheer relief that I wasn’t alone in my hope that things can change.

For too long women of belief have been the willing recipients of gender-specific teaching that patronizes their intellect and panders to their emotions. For too long churches have neglected to raise the bar, settling for a ministry model that is content to connect women in relationships without challenging them to deeper understanding of the Word. For forty-eight hours this weekend I got to hear influential voices raise a cry for a different standard. For forty-eight hours I got to entertain the very real possibility that the tide could turn.

Do you know how hard it is for the average woman to get away for the weekend? And they came by the thousands. There were many messages worth pondering at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference of 2012. The one written plainest on my heart is this:  “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” May the workers be many. May we ask this in His Name.

UPDATE: You can find audio/video of the conference sessions here.