RIDGECREST, NC - More than 1,300 women attended the National Women’s Leadership Forum, held for the first time at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center located near Asheville, N.C.
Chris Adams, senior lead women’s ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and host of the event, welcomed attendees and shared that the conference was being attended by more than 360 churches from 18 denominations in 38 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and internationally from Australia and Canada.
“This is the biggest, most diverse group we have had in the 15-year history of this event,” Adams said.
Travis Cottrell and the praise team opened the general sessions with music and prayer. Cottrell, worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., has been a familiar face at LifeWay-sponsored women’s events since teaming up with Beth Moore for the Living Proof Live events more than a decade ago.
Large group general sessions allowed women to hear from speakers who gave valuable tips and shared their own successes and failures in ministry.
In addition to LifeWay’s Adams, speakers included:
- Margaret Feinberg, recently named by Charisma Magazine as one of the “30 Emerging Voices” and author of more than two dozen books, including “Scouting the Divine” and its corresponding Bible study of the same name published by LifeWay.
- Curtis Jones, who serves on the staff of Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries in Houston as an associate teacher/speaker, cultural research assistant and LPM’s first in-house ordained minister.
- Bible teacher and conference speaker Beth Moore, author of best-selling Bible studies, including her newest LifeWay study, “Breaking Free” (updated edition).
Forum attendees were able to choose from 46 breakout sessions, ranging from topics dealing with compassion fatigue, mentoring, reaching young adults, women’s missions, team building, spiritual storytelling and leaving a spiritual legacy.
Author and speaker Angela Thomas was among the breakout leaders. Her class offering, “BRAVE: Honest Questions Women Ask,” let women talk about the necessity of going to God with honest questions – “Do you know that I’m worn out?” “Do you know I’m suffering?” “Do you know I feel invisible?” – and the assurance that not only does He know, but He will answer.
In her session on compassion fatigue, Linda Lesniewski, women’s minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, said it is entirely possible to just get physically, emotionally and spiritually worn out ministering to people who have such a variety of needs. She helped women see the symptoms of compassion fatigue and how to take some time for refreshment and repair.
Pam Case, director of LifeWay Women, led a session on using social media as a ministry tool. She walked women through the waters of blogs, vlogs, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace and Facebook. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and women’s leaders are going to have to jump onboard, Case explained.
During her general session, Moore shared with the women how it boggles her mind when she thinks about all the options for communication that are available today.
With texting and Twitter, she said, “We are coming under simultaneous scrutiny. You can be graded on what you said almost before you finish getting the words out of your mouth. With that kind of instantaneous communication, there is no time to digest the information.”
This immediate sharing of information, Moore said, may be translating into shorter times of pondering a message God has for us.
“I fear that we are losing the art of meditation [when] we don’t take time to absorb the message before passing it on,” she said. “We must take the time to be still and quiet before the Lord. We are transmitting a ton of information but not taking time for reception.
“We must take time to hear a message from God and allow it to go deep into our hearts and minds,” she said. “We have to give it time to make an impression on our lives.”
During the closing session of the conference, Moore asked all women’s ministry leaders under 35 years of age to join her for a commissioning service. She prayed for the women who will be taking their places as leaders in the churches.
Next year’s leadership forum will be Nov. 10-12 at LifeWay’s home office in Nashville, Tenn.