Someone on Twitter asked if we could recommend any good women’s conferences centering on faithful Biblical exposition and an unrelenting love for the church. This was my reply:
Good conferences centering on faithful Biblical exposition &an unrelenting love for the church are any from MacArthur, G3, TMU’s Truth & Life conference, etc. I’m not an advocate of separate women’s conferences. Women need theology, so, “Conference”, not “Women’s conference” IMO.
Below is why I prefer men’s conferences, exactly this, as a reader alerted me to a few days after the Twitter inquiry-
The Dallas Seminary’s Women’s Leadership conference concluded a few days ago. Christine Caine as the keynote speaker makes me so sad, because she teaches things unworthy of Christ. Through this invitation, the Dallas Seminary gives Caine credibility. Think of how many women are negatively influenced and exposed to her, or even when they see the line-up of speakers on the website.
I looked up the Bios of the other women who were on the schedule at the Leadership conference. A pattern emerged.
Have you noticed this phrase very often? It’s become a constant to many women’s ministry bios and purpose statements.
Her mission in life is to equip and inspire women to reach their full potential in Christ.
[This ministry] exists to serve the local church, leaders, organizations, and individuals by inspiring and helping them connect with their God-given potential and purpose.
[This ministry] believes in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman everywhere.
[This Teacher] has committed her life to equipping women of all ages, regardless of marital status, with practical, biblical truth to help them live more genuine lives.
I share this dream with some amazing friends… to gather and equip and unleash a generation of women.
According to these teachers in their ministry purpose statements, I can be genuine, reach my full potential, be ‘unleashed’ (because I’m shackled now, right?), find my purpose, and more. Sounds good.
Except it’s wrong. Ministry isn’t about me. It isn’t about my potential. It isn’t about my life. It isn’t about my purpose. We do ministry for an entirely different reason. A reason that has its focus not on ourselves, looking laterally. We look up.
My potential is this: as a sinner I have the utter and constant potential to sin. (Genesis 6:5). Sinners gossip, steal, covet, murder, lust, and more. That is what sinners do. It is what we have the “potential” for. As a believer, my potential is in Christ, and will be fully realized in Christ when He comes. When we are glorified our potential will be full, but not until then. As it is now, as long as we’re not raptured or dead and dwelling in heaven until the Day, we have the total potential to sin. More than potential, actually.
We have the Holy Spirit as a help and an aid to resist our sin-nature. The more we grow, the more we can resist sin through the Holy Spirit’s help. But we do sin. Paul remarked about that, and if there was any believer who had a shot at reaching his “full potential”, as Christine Caine puts it, it was him. Yet he still struggled with doing what he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do what he wanted.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15-20).
The kind of ministry purpose statements I read and quoted some above sound more like a fortune cookie than deeply committed evangelical purpose. It’s like that funny blog essay Challies did, ‘Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie?’ Joel Osteen was selected as the unwitting target because he is well-known for issuing nebulous platitudes instead of firmly proclaiming the Word. We can play the same game. “Ministry Purpose Statement or Confucian saying?” Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived in around 500 BC. Here is an example:
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
It’s a Confucian saying, but if we add “in Christ” to the end it might well match any of the liberal Christian ministry purpose statements we find of the type I’m talking about.
I wish these ministries would have in their purpose statements and their leader bios, something like this:
“Helping women learn who Christ is through the study of His word.”
“Helping women to learn theology so we bring honor to Christ in our lives and deeds.”
“Women together studying the person, life, work, and ministry of Jesus Christ.”
“Studying His word so as to transform our minds and become more Christ-like.”
“Encouraging women to study God’s revelation to us through His written word.”
If you’re checking out a ministry online and see something like the me-statements mentioned above, promising full potential or unleashing or finding your purpose, beware. Alternately, just because a ministry puts up a solid-seeming purpose statement, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily solid. There’s this purpose statement for a famous ministry, which sounds fantastic:
[This ministry] is dedicated to encourage people to come to know and love Jesus Christ through the study of Scripture.
Sadly, the about statement of purpose is Beth Moore’s at Living Proof. Rather, her purpose statement should read:
This ministry is dedicated to encourage people to come to know and love Beth Moore through the study of my direct revelations, personal dreams, pop psychology, and funny anecdotes.”
So, just be aware of the language ministries use. If they claim to want to help you attain your full potential, it might be wise to say to yourself,
“No thanks, I want to study Christ while on earth, resist my potential, and wait for Him to fulfill it when I’m glorified.”