Recently I was invited to our Southern Baptist state convention’s annual Ministry Wives Weekend. Although I am a longtime SBC pastor’s wife, this was my first time attending. ( Honestly, I’ve been disappointed by so many of these gatherings, I’ve pretty much lost interest in attending them. ) But since I was invited by a leader in our local association, I accepted the invitation and looked forward to a weekend away with a friend in a hotel and was hopeful for an edifying weekend of teaching and worship.
When we arrived, I was pretty excited to see that every woman had a copy of the biography of Susie Spurgeon at her place on the table.
So we were off to a good start, including having amazing catered Mexican food! Then came the worship. I was discouraged to find that I didn’t know any of the songs. The reason being, the CCLI information revealed that every song was from Elevation, Hillsong, or Bethel Music. However, all the women around me were singing every word, hands raised. *Sigh*
After the worship I had little hope for our speaker Jacki King, but was willing to listen with an open mind and give her a chance. My hopes were dashed pretty quickly when she almost immediately let us know her Enneagram number. She read several excerpts from a book she plugged by Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson, who uses the enneagram as a tool to help with patients. Here he is a guest on a YouTube podcast where they discuss how shame affects the nine enneagram types.
She also quoted Brene’ Brown, a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday”. We were told no less than 5 times to “lean in” to what was being taught, which was scripture being taken very much out of context.
At this point she had lost me, so I discreetly began doing some searching while she was still talking. Although our speaker is a student at the SBC’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I saw that she retweets Christine Caine, as well as having other problematic social media posts. She is a contributor to the publication SBC Voices where in an article she wrote, she called Beth Moore’s “Letter to My Brothers” “humble and forward”.
I tell you this story so that you know that we MUST do some discerning investigation before attending ANY women’s conference. Even conferences we should be able to trust. I must be honest. I was invited to this conference by a friend. It was an SBC conference. So I just went with the flow and
( unlike me ) didn’t do my homework, which would have revealed what I was about to walk into.
I have some suggestions on how to investigate any conference you are thinking of attending.
• Who are the speakers?
This should be pretty easy to do. The list of speakers is almost always included on the conference website or social media pages. If you are one who keeps up with who problematic teachers are, then you will probably know if it’s a good conference simply by name recognition. If not, there is more you can do.
• Look up information on the conference speakers.
My go-to source for looking up bible study teachers, authors, and conference speakers is Michelle Lesley’s website page of popular teachers she does NOT recommend. This is a fairly comprehensive list and is an invaluable tool for me routinely!
You can also use your handy search engine to look up the teachers by name, especially if they do not have a large public platform. A couple of years ago I was invited to a local women’s conference at a little SBC church in our county. I looked up the social media of the speaker and found that she was listed on her facebook page as “Co-pastor” of her church with her husband. That was all I needed to know not to attend. You can find out a lot on their social media pages or websites!
• Who do they promote or associate with?
Again, I would point you to the speaker’s social media pages. I had never heard of Jacki King, but if I had done my research properly, I would have seen that she promotes Beth Moore, Christine Caine and other popular false teachers. Even if the conference doesn’t have big name speakers, there are usually bread crumbs to follow so that you can educate yourself on who they admire and promote.
• Who is leading the worship?
This may be a little harder to find out, but the worship team or leader is usually listed on the conference website or social media advertisement. Chances are, the worship leader may be a bit more obscure. But if they are a worship leader they are on social media. Probably YouTube. You should be able to look up videos on engagements they’ve done in the past.
Here is what I do when searching for info on worship leaders:
Most of the time, worship teams are doing “cover songs”. Find their YouTube or Facebook videos. If the song you listen to is unfamiliar, type the lyrics into your search engine. This should immediately lead you to the song title and who it’s by. If you find the song comes from a popular church known for false teaching, it is a hint that this worship leader is not discerning, and therefore, the conference does not care to research where the music is coming from. This process can be a bit time-consuming, but I suggest doing the research if you want to know what to expect at the conference.
So how can you know if it’s a GOOD conference? Honestly, in my opinion, 9 out of 10 women’s conferences should be avoided. Especially nationally known conferences such as Women of Faith and similar events, that are basically book-selling tours. Rarely is a bible opened, and if so, it’s usually a topical “talk” centering on how a certain verse can relate to your life. But once in a while a worthwhile women’s conference comes along. Recently I “attended” the virtual conference, Open Hearts in a Closed World. From the worship to the bible teachers, it was fantastic. And the teaching was SOLID and BIBLICAL. And it was FREE!
If you want a list of recommended teachers, again, I would refer you to Michelle Lesley, who has done extensive homework and made her research available to all who want the information. She has a page of recommended teachers and speakers that is dependable and trustworthy.
I know as women we WANT to be able to attend teaching events where we are being fed truth, where we can grow deeper in the Word, and where we can fellowship with other like-minded women. Hopefully the next time you are invited to a women’s conference, or you see an ad for an event you might want the women of your church to attend, you will be motivated and equipped to check out the details first. It’s worth your time to do the investigating so you’ll know whether to go or not to go!