I can count on one hand the number of times I have participated in a webinar of any sort. I have no patience for that sorta thing. But since I am a closet rule follower/manual reader/someone who likes to be in the know, I sat down last night to watch the IF:Gathering vision cast.
If you have never heard of the IF:Gathering I recommend you check out their website and consider hosting a local gathering. Even if it means grabbing some girlfriends to watch the simulcast. And read on if you are a leader who gathers women together in any capacity.
I sense my fellow IF:Local leaders are preparing for our gatherings with great anticipation. I can understand why we would be so excited about this movement among women.
I love the whole idea of IF to gather, equip, and unleash women. I love the thought of women banding together in community to impact community both here and abroad. I love the inspiring teaching by incredible women of deep faith and great vision. I love the challenge to share our resources.
The IF Facebook page is lit up with questions regarding registration costs, bandwidth, and food choices along with posts of inviting registration table displays and chic decoration ideas. Many women are stepping out in faith to host a gathering and I can certainly understand the desire to create a great experience for attendees. And the IF leaders are working hard to put tools in our hands to make it happen. But I do offer a word of caution as we plan our gatherings.
My hope and prayer is that as a community of women desperately seeking to draw near to God and ask the important question, “If God is real, then what?” we don’t lose ourselves in distractions that draw us away from kingdom priorities.
We do this as women. We want everything to be just right. So we analyze, Pinterest, compare, hem, and haw over every last detail. But we have to remember that while stylish fonts, elegantly simple centerpieces, burlap banners, and candlelight atmospheres are pretty … they don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t get lost in the details and miss the vision.
The women who attended the IF:Local gatherings last year had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t even tell the people I invited what IF was. But women came anyway … from many different churches and walks of life. At my house we put out coffee, soup, crackers, and $1 notebooks. We were a big crew so we sat on the floor. We whipped out leftovers for day two’s meal and took turns taking my overgrown, obnoxious puppy out for potty breaks in the frigid February cold. But you know what? We connected. We prayed. We discussed. We worshiped together. Women walked away changed, challenged, and encouraged regardless of the setting.
I am guessing that many other gatherings were just as inelegant as ours yet just as impactful.
Rather than fretting over making the setting picture perfect, spend time praying over the group of women God will gather together at your location. Pray for the IF:Gathering leaders and speakers. And be sure to spend just as much time processing and praying over the “unleash” portion of your event as you do on the “gathering.”
I am sure the IF organizers will find some great ministries to present to us for donations. I say, “Yes!” to asking women to financially partner with initiatives seeking to knock out poverty and injustice. But we are so much more than our checkbooks.
We can serve with our time, our talents, our homes, our families, and our influence. There are organizations we can partner with both locally and abroad that desperately seek volunteers. There are children and families in crisis in our own communities who are crying out for women to step out in faith and practice Biblical hospitality by opening their homes. There are hurting widows and struggling families who need food, resources, and a friend.
I hope we use our time to dream together about what our communities might look like if we live bravely and boldly – so brave and bold that the world takes notice and asks, “Why do these women act that way? Give that much? Serve so humbly?”
And we will be prepared to answer why. Because He first loved us.