At 36 years old, I had never lead a Bible study. I had barely attended one. I was cynical about women’s ministry.
In the spring of 2013, we had just begun our adoption adventure. A friend asked if I would consider leading a study of the book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker.
I had read the book the summer before, and I had loved the idea of fasting from things that pull us away from God and farther into the culture of this world.
I made emails and fliers and let my friends know about the study at my house. I had a great turnout all throughout the study. We had amazing conversations, and I loosened my hold on earthly things just a little. It was a success.
As our 9 week gathering came to an end, a few ladies began to ask if I was going to do another book because they didn’t want to stop meeting.
I thought about where my cynicism was rooted in my criticism of other women’s Bible studies. My biggest point of criticism was that I didn’t understand why women wanted to just meet and study the Bible endlessly and never do anything that they had learned.
I had liked the study of 7 because we were doing something, fasting each week. We were figuring out that God could sustain us through a week without coffee, tv, or shopping.
In school, our teachers tried to incorporate learning styles for different types of learners. We were told that there were visual, audio, and tactile learners. I don’t think that this is exactly true. I think we are all visual, audio, and tactile learners. We just lean heavier into one category than others, or maybe there are people out there who are evenly distributed among the three in their learning. It isn’t a yes or a no, but it is a sliding scale.
Tactile learning is when you learn by doing something. Most of our daily life is full of stuff that we learned by doing, like cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming, clicking screens, reading, writing, and parenting.
I began to look back at times of growth in my Christian life, and I realized that the times I had grown the most were not times of heavy study in the Word of God. Growth came when I was going through something or when I was ministering to others. God and I grew closer by tactile learning how to live the Christian life.
That is what a faith adventure is anyway, isn’t it?
Doing something with God, together.
When I was 5, my dad build an entertainment center. Now days you can get away with a little table or you can even hang your tv on the wall and not even have an entertainment center. But in the 80s it was different.
He made it big enough to fit our console tv inside the bottom middle. There were shelves for our encyclopedias. (Kids, those are volumes of reference books we used before Al Gore invented the internet.)
As we acquired a VHS player, my dad modified it to hold the player that was the size of a stovetop, and he added drawers to hold VHS movies.
That entertainment center was ginormous. It was about 4 1/2 ft. tall, 10 ft. long, and 2 1/2 feet wide. And I had “helped” my dad build it. I took so much ownership of that thing. When my parents decided to get rid of it a few years ago, I was so sad. I morned it like a lost pet.
I had built that thing with my little girl hands. I had rubbed sand paper across that wood and panted on lacquer. We had moved it to three different states. In all the moving, it had cracked across the back, and it had a license plate holding it together.
That center was a fixture of my childhood. I sat in front of that thing and watched Cookie Monster, Erkle, Hee-Haw and Andy Griffith.
But had I really built it? No. My dad did all the heavy lifting, planning, sawing, and sanding.
God calls us to come build something with Him. He wants to hand us sandpaper and brushes as we build the Kingdom together. We don’t do the real work, but we do enough to become invested in what we are building. We begin to treasure people, the church, the unreached, the hungry, the thirsty, the broken, the orphan, the widow, the sick, and the imprisoned. We treasure them because we have invested our heart into them.
I wanted a Bible study that was tactile.
I made a plan. We would study and meet to talk about our lessons for three weeks out of the month, but once a month we would do something. We would plan outreaches using the encouragement found for women in Titus 2.
One week we taught a healthy cooking class to low-income moms, one week we delivered summer fun kits to single moms, one week we had a used clothing swap at the church, one week we had a class about reading to your kids, one week we taught low-income families how to save money by making household supplies like laundry soap, and one week we had a pizza crust making class.
The group only lasted six months.
Attendance got smaller and smaller as we continued, and it fizzled out.
Sometimes you try something, and it just doesn’t fly.
I don’t regret trying it. As I write this, I still think that it’s a good idea. I had fun doing those outreaches.
The principle of a faith adventure is to step out. Usually God moves in ways that you don’t expect. That doesn’t mean that He isn’t working.
At the tail end of this group, I had the opportunity to step out and try something else with God. I heard about the IF:Gathering conference.
In, February 2014, I hosted an IF:Gathering at my church. I really wanted to go to Austin for the first IF:Gathering, but I couldn’t logistically do that (i.e. no money for that in our budget) and on top of that, the tickets sold out in a matter of minutes.
So when Jen Hatmaker posted her blog about IF:local, I was on it. I wanted there to be an IF:local in my city. So I decided I would host one. I put all the details together and kept it simple. I had 12 ladies attend, and it was wonderful. But, here’s the thing. It was small.
In December of 2015, I went to a brunch with 5 other ladies and we decided to have a city-wide, multi-denominational IF:local in Amarillo. From the beginning, our goal was 500 women, free of charge to attendees. We knew God could provide the money. Over the next few months, we added other women to our team of planners. We worked hard getting the word out, asking for donations, and working out details of the event.
I will never forget our meeting the first week of January. We sat around looking at each other asking if we were crazy. We had $200 in the bank, around 2% of the money we would need. We had less than 40 people signed up, and the event was only one month away.
We could have walked away at that point, called it off. Instead we prayed for God to move.
God was going to have to do the work we couldn’t do.
I am so thankful for that experience, because we saw a miracle.
On February 6, 2015, we had 500 women show up to the event, and God paid for every bit of it. That month prior to the gathering, donations had trickled in and sign ups slowly were added all month long.
Sometimes you try something, and it flies.
God wants us to hold the kite string, but only He can send the wind.
I love music so I include a song with each blog post. Folk music is an easy target for ridicule, but if you don't think this song is beautiful, check your pulse.