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“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14 

I was invited to attend a women’s conference with some ladies I’ve met through Mama Bear. They’ve been such wonderful friends that I wanted to make the trip to attend. I asked one of my local best friends to join me for the drive because everyone knows that a road trip is always more fun with friends! 

We enjoyed a day of excellent fellowship and wisdom from our guest speaker, Teasi Cannon,1Teasi is a Mama Bear Apologetics Board member and also contributed to our first book. but what struck me most was how different it was from the, let’s say, “fluffy” conferences that are too common in women’s ministry. To help our fellow Mama Bears, I wanted to share the top four things to look for or plan for in a women’s conference.  

1. Worship is God-focused

Not every conference includes worship, but we love it when they do! We came together and sang songs centered on who God is. The songs were primarily hymns about God’s nature and Jesus being our anchor, the firm foundation of our faith. We miss the point of worshipping God for who He is when we only celebrate what He has done for us.”  Us-focused worship also misses understanding God’s very nature is worth worshipping even when our personal circumstances are not pleasant.

Singing songs that focus on what we’ve seen God do in our lives is important too. We need to thank Him and recognize how much we’ve changed through the process of sanctification. But modern worship can sometimes spend too much time looking horizontally at ourselves, focusing only on getting our miracles. (Since my husband passed traumatically, worship centered around all the miracles and wonders God does for us is sometimes painful. I didn’t get my prayers answered in this wonderful perfect movie ending. God didn’t “move every mountain” the way I prayed for, that doesn’t mean God wasn’t good, or can’t move mountains even if He didn’t move this one.)

God is still sustaining me in my grief. I’ve clung to the truth of God’s faithfulness despite my heart being broken because I know who God is. That is what vertical worship is, it allows us to focus on Him and His attributes. The circumstances in our lives cannot be the measure of if God is good. We worship because He alone is worthy and good. The circumstances in our lives cannot be the measure of if God is good. We worship because He alone is worthy and good. Click To Tweet  

2. Limited Emotionalism

This women’s conference wasn’t devoid of moments that appealed to our emotions, but they were limited and purposeful.   

When I experienced emotional responses, it was because something resonated with me, convicted me of my own sin, or gave me hope that God is still working in my difficult circumstances. My feelings were a response to who God is, not cleverly orchestrated moments designed to elicit emotions.   

God created our emotions because He wants us to have them. Our feelings can be wonderful indicators when something is going sideways. Righteous anger or frustration can help us take action against the sin we see around us personally or globally. Happiness, joy, and love connect us to our children, spouse, and friends. Empathy inspires us to do more for the people in our lives who need the support or love of Jesus. But we all know emotions can also be fickle and fluctuate. 

Our speaker started by reminding us that emotional needs are real needs; infants die when their emotional needs are not met! Yet, feelings cannot be the answers themselves. Subjective and relative answers are not freeing! We cannot be both the problem and its solution. And when our emotional needs don’t feel met, we often seek counterfeit answers that leave us lost and empty. 

This weekend our emotions were the icing on the cake, not the main course. In fact, we were reminded that the true cure to the rampant spiritual depression ravaging our country is belief in Jesus as the anchor of our hope.  

A women’s conference that focuses too much on hyping our emotions leaves us primed for a crash when we return to reality without enough solid knowledge for continued growth on our own. Speakers who correctly center our focus on God will be emotional and encouraging, even convicting, but won’t leave us standing in a puddle of feelings. They will always bring us back to God’s word. Speakers who correctly center our focus on God will be emotional and encouraging, even convicting, but won’t leave us standing in a puddle of feelings. They will always bring us back to God’s word. Click To Tweet

3. Appropriate use of Personal Anecdotes

Our speaker used some personal stories in her presentations. She was open, funny, and sometimes raw. And her stories helped clothe the message with authenticity, but they weren’t the focus. 

She gave us some background about her past and present to help underscore her authority in different areas. We were able to laugh with her, commiserate with her, and see ourselves in different places alongside her. She spent more time telling us about God and who He is than about herself.  

The masterful use of personal details put flesh around her theme that Jesus is the anchor of our faith, but they brought us back to the main message, they were not the main message. 

4. Theologically Solid

By “theologically solid,” we mean that Scripture is interpreted properly and in context. The meaning of a passage is consistent with the teaching of the whole Bible on that topic. Scripture is used to define terms and explain who God is and what our purpose is. The message correctly defines biblical terms, like salvation, truth, the gospel, grace, and sanctification. All exhortation (encouragement) pushes us to run the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1).  

Every topic point was made with a passage, in context, even when discussing apologetics issues like creation and worldview. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1. Who is Jesus and why is He important to our faith? Hebrews 1:1-3. Why can we come to God as our Father? John 14:18. He won’t leave us as orphans. 

Even in the Q&A, every question was taken back to the verses and passages we were discussing. It was clear she knew Scripture thoroughly and was able to reference several passages from memory to answer our questions.  

As our meeting concluded Saturday, I was struck by how well this conference fed the attendees spiritually (although the delicious lunch provided by the gentlemen also fed us physically). In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference with such a meaty message. We read through large chunks of Hebrews and related passages as a group, learning how to clearly read and interpret the verses in context. 

Conclusion

Women are hungry for truth. When the world is busy feeding us counterfeit answers for our very real problems, we need the authentic answers only found in Christ. Click To Tweet Women are hungry for truth. When the world is busy feeding us counterfeit answers for our very real problems, we need the authentic answers only found in Christ. If we’re going to take time and money to create or attend an event, make sure it’s giving you the good stuff and I don’t just mean the poppyseed chicken casserole (yum!) 

A women’s conference can be fun and encouraging, have beautiful table decorations, delicious food, and be a solid ministry event. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive. But the outer trappings should be wrapped around meaty teaching that convicts and inspires us to love God more deeply and imitate Jesus more closely. 

Looking for a solid women’s conference to attend? An excellent conference is coming up THIS weekend, the Women in Apologetics conference in California, AND you can stream from home in your sweatpants too! (Better yet, get a whole group of women in sweatpants, and watch it together!) Make sure and tag WIA and Mama Bear in a photo! 

By Jennifer DeFrates

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