Two years ago I heard rumblings of the IF: Gathering a little over two years ago when my discipleship group (which many of us had journeyed together through Jen Hatmaker’s Seven Study) read this article on Jen’s blog.
We were enticed. None of us went to Austin that first year or even attended the IF: Local here in Lexington. But some of us watched from home. On our own. And boy….were we glad we did.
Seeing the passion for discipleship and the leadership of Jennie Allen and others on the leadership team, I was drawn to the humility, focus on Jesus and not on one individual, and the empowerment and challenge given to us to go into our own communities and build disciples. What was IF about? Loving Jesus more.
Jennie wanted to meet the folks planning local events when she was on the road speaking–so two of us went to Cincinnati one cold December day to have coffee with her super early before she spoke at a Christmas brunch. It was evident she was all about the local church, empowering women to be leaders in those churches and in their communities.
February came around and we hosted an IF local with about 50 women at one of the satellite campuses of our church–folks from all ages and different churches came. With much church support, we kept things simple and pure to point things to Jesus. We had a shoe-string budget, but our hearts and minds were full. And boy, did things happen. People starting talking. Stepping up and leading. Two women developed a great friendship–as in went on vacation together this summer and are doing a bible study with their husbands.
My friend Shannon and I had the opportunity to join with other local leaders for a gathering/training in Orlando about 3 weeks ago. I’m still wrapping my mind around all that I learned. All I can say is that I’m glad that this gal who was called into ministry in high school and has struggled with that for years now feels like she has a place.
I’m sure I’ll come back and revisit all the change that has happened in my ministry journey as well as what all was learned in Orlando.
From the words of a gal I’ve been following online:
IF is a beautiful thing…challenging each other to lean into Jesus – to dare greatly, follow Him boldly, and learn what means to live as Jesus lived – together. Community is the most beautiful thing.
Registration for IF 2016 opens today at 11am CST. There are tickets for Austin, but look at where you are–Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, the Northeast, out west, even overseas–there are IF Local gatherings near where you are and I hope that you’ll consider joining one–hundreds have already pre-registered. There’s another gathering this year in Georgetown and I may be hosting one in my home with that early morning crew I’ve been hanging out with.
Like Jen said in her article over two years ago, I know women are craving something more–something different. Where we don’t just sugar coat our challenges and put on our Sunday best. We show up in yoga pants and no make-up and look one another in the eye when we say, “I’m struggling.”
That’s what I’ve found with IF. I hope you’ll join me and discover it as well.
Check out my other #Write31Days challenge entries here.