A very late review
Last month, I had the privilege of attending the Q Women & Calling Conference in New York. Because I do not naturally fit into the 1950s gender stereotypes very well, I usually avoid Christian women’s conferences at all costs. When I saw the line up for Q, however, I knew I had to make an exception – and I am so very glad I did! This conference was focused on re-imagining “calling” for women in the Church, and discussing the innumerable ways God uses women (YES!). While I planned to write about it shortly after attending, I found myself so challenged by what was said that it took me a while to sort through everything.
During this time of reflection on the conference, other reviews came out. I loved this one by my friend Laura Ortberg Turner. Her highlights are spot on! The American Bible Society gave a great review of the event as well. I also enjoyed this recap of Shauna Niequist’s talk (be ready with tissue).
So, for fear of stating what has already been said, here are my short thoughts on the conference and why I hope Q plans on repeating this amazing event!
And the award goes to…
Most Empowering definitely goes to Kathy Khang and her teaching on ambition. She reminded women that, despite what may have been taught to us by our culture or our churches, “Masculinity is not ambition. Ambition is ours as well!” She re-imagined ambition with a Christian ethic (applicable to both men and women) and taught about being disciples of Jesus as Mary of Bethany was. She brought it home with, “Ambition is knowing your focus and what Jesus has called you to do, and you will only know that by sitting at Jesus’ feet. And that will NOT be taken away from you!”
Most Likely to Make You Shout Hallelujah! goes to Shauna Niequist. Let me just say right up front that THIS WOMAN CAN PREACH! Shauna talked about her mother, Lynne Hybels, and the journey they both went on to find their callings. She emphasized how grateful she was to have grown up in a church that affirms the leadership of women at every level. I had to refrain from standing up and cheering when she said, “Everyone benefits when women use their gifts; the Church benefits, families benefit, marriages benefit, ministries benefit, organizations benefit”.
Most Quotable goes to Rachel Held Evans with, “The Proverbs 31 Woman…she’s basically like a Pinterest board come to life!” I love Rachel for so many reasons, and her talk emphasized all of them. She made us laugh, she made us cry, she made us feel like we were her best friends (I seriously think I might be), and she welcomed us into the conversation of re-imagining God’s plan for our lives.
Most Encouraging has to go to Kate Harris with her idea that your “calling” is where your talents and burdens collide. I appreciated her honesty in talking about her own struggles and how she found her vocation by embracing her grief, not running from it. “The tender spots that are born out of our own pain…this is where our callings reflect Christ in His crucifixion and resurrection…By His wounds we are healed…God often uses our own wounds to heal the world.” My calling definitely becomes more clear during moments of pain, and Kate Harris encouraged me that such a journey is not only permissible, but reflects the life of Jesus.
Most Convicting goes to Nicole Baker Fulgham with her presentation on privilege and women in the margins. Nicole reminded us that privilege not only impacts the path to our calling and vocation, but that it also impacts our biblical responsibility. She challenged us to come alongside young girls who may lack family support and education, and to help them imagine what God might do in their lives. “Where might God be calling you to help marginalized girls fulfill their purpose?” Nicole was truly inspiring and she challenged me to evaluate how my privilege as a white woman might be blinding me to the plight of women who are different from me.
Most Likely to Make Me Come Back Next Year definitely goes to Katelyn Beaty. One of the main reasons I avoid women’s conferences is that they are almost exclusively catered toward married women with children. Katelyn Beaty blew us out of the water by boldly saying that the Church needs a better theology of singleness. In the Church, Katelyn pointed out, single women are considered “neither” until they get married and have children. But even though the Christian community treats marriage as normative, about half of American adults are single. I loved Katelyn’s statement that the Church needs to re-evaluate its priorities so that everyone is valued, whether single or married. Amen!
My expectations for Q Women and Calling were high, and I was not disappointed. I am thankful that Q had the courage to host an event that was so different than the average women’s conference. The presenters were welcoming, humorous, and encouraging. Instead of simply teaching on traditional views, the majority of presenters dove straight into scripture and came out with a holistic understanding of God’s call to women. The Church would benefit from having more conversations like this one!