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500 women’s leaders gather for training

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–To help women in their churches “know Christ, grow in Christ and find their place of serving in His Kingdom,” 500-plus women attended a Women’s Ministry National Leadership Training Forum sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources.

Chris Adams, LifeWay’s senior lead women’s ministry specialist, added to her description of the gathering by noting that the Southern Baptist entity seeks “to help equip women who are leading women’s ministries in their churches to reach and disciple women for Christ.”

Eleven LifeWay Bible study authors such as Mary Kassian were on hand to provide participants with information about an array of resources.

Kassian, author of “In My Father’s House,” “Conversation Peace,” “Vertically Inclined” and the newly released “Knowing God by Name,” shared about her progression from a woman doing a Bible study with college women in western Canada to seeing her work published.

“It just happened one step at a time,” she said. “I was just obedient to what God asked of me at each step and He was with me for the next step.”

Jennifer Rothschild, author of a LifeWay Bible study, “Me, Myself and Lies,” slated for release in February, spoke to an “early bird” group who came in before the official beginning of the Nov. 11-13 forum.

Everyone has about 50,000 thoughts per day, Rothschild said, noting that most are organizational, non-reactive types of thoughts such as: “Where are my keys?” “I need to go pick up the dry cleaning.” “Get the kids at school.

But a small percentage of those thoughts are dangerous: “I’m so stupid.” “My husband doesn’t value me.” “I’m ugly.”

Those are the ones to be on guard against, said Rothschild, whose LifeWay study is based on her book, “Self Talk, Soul Talk.”

Rothschild used the metaphor of a closet to explain that everyone has “thought closets” where all the “stuff” — useful and junky — is stored. The thoughts sometimes come from lies originating with other people, Rothschild. Other times they come from dark places within a person or from a culture that only values wealth, power and physical perfection.

Every so often, the closets need to be cleaned out, as challenging as that can be, Rothschild said.

Rhonda Kelley, an author and leader of the women’s ministry certificate program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where her husband serves as president, noted at her “Stepping Up to the Mic” session that a church’s women’s ministry leader likely will be called upon to speak at some point.

“Many people are paralyzed with fear when they anticipate speaking in front of others,” Kelley said. “But we know that Scripture tells us that fear is not of the Lord. God will prepare you for what He wants you to do.”

Although disabling fear is bad, Kelley said, “A healthy dose of fear causes me to be totally dependent on God. I know that I am not able to speak to and lead groups under my own power and capabilities, but I also know that with God I can do anything.”

Always do a thorough job of preparation before speaking, she advised, suggesting that an outline is a good way to stay on track.

“When you get scared, your mind is the first thing to go,” she said, eliciting laughter and nods from the group. “When that happens, take a deep breath and quickly pray for confidence and recall.”

In addition to learning skills for growing the women’s ministry in their own churches, participants heard a pastor’s reminder that leading other women to God must begin with cultivating one’s own godliness.

David Landrith of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., told the audience, “In general we recognize, as pastors, the crucial role that women play,” especially when a vibrant women’s ministry is a catalyst for other ministries in a church.

He cautioned, however, that even Christian women can “fall prey” to the traps of the world rather than pursuing personal godliness in order to help other women do the same.

“Who does God want to use you to call up [for women’s ministry] by the behavior that you exhibit?” Landrith asked. “When your behavior is the kind that God has called you to, that behavior has a huge impact.”
Polly House & Brooklyn Noel Lowery are corporate communications specialists with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. LifeWay will offer two Women’s Ministry Leadership Training Forums in 2009. For more information, visit www.lifeway.com/women.

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  • Polly House & Brooklyn Noel Lowery