Most pastors recognize the need to develop and train leaders and volunteers in their churches. In fact, more pastors identify this as a ministry difficulty they face than any other difficulty in ministry. Pastors understand the necessity of developing and training those in their churches, but among all their responsibilities, they’re having trouble investing in their people with leadership training and development.
In my 30 years of leadership experience, I’ve attended numerous conferences and training events that have enhanced my work, my calling and my personal life. I don’t just lead training conferences for women; I attend them. Sometimes I go even when they force me out of my comfort zone, and I believe there are women in your church who need to be pushed out of their own comfort zones to conferences and events where they can be developed and trained as leaders in your church.
A few years ago, I went to a conference where I didn’t know a single person except one keynote speaker, but I met some amazing women with various passions and skills, listened to speakers I had never heard of, took copious notes on a variety of subjects and returned home with a full heart and renewed passion for my calling. Not only was this conference good for my work, but it was good for my soul.
That conference experience illustrates why I believe women and the women’s ministry team at your church need to attend a leadership conference this year. Here are three reasons you need to make training events part of your leadership development and training journey for women in your church.
1. Women will learn from experts on a variety of topics.
Whether they’re beginning in a leadership role or have been leading for years, training conferences give women in your church relevant content from others who are in the trenches. These are practitioners who understand the calling of those who come. The women you send aren’t just faces in a sea of thousands listening to speakers. They’re placed in smaller learning environments where they can engage with teachers. Leadership conferences aren’t just for inspiration but also for education.
2. Women will network with others who have similar passions.
We always encourage women to bring ministry teams to training events so they can process together what they learn, but we also encourage women to sit by strangers and ask them questions. At Lifeway Women’s “You Lead” events, women gather over lunch by similar roles and get to have conversations and exchange ideas. At the Lifeway Women’s Leadership Forum, I’ve attended panel discussions where I could ask questions and developed lifelong friendships sitting next to women I didn’t know prior to the event.
At the conference I mentioned earlier, I promised myself I would sit by different women during every meal. On the final day, I found myself at an empty table. Tired of reaching out to strangers, I was content to allow others to come to me. After getting settled into my chair, I had a nagging feeling I was rebelling against my initial commitment to reach out to others. Reluctantly, I found my way to a table where another woman was sitting by herself. We quickly became acquainted, discovered mutual friends and two years later she taught at a conference I led. A few years ago, she passed away unexpectedly at the age of 38, but I’ll never forget my first encounter with her. I could’ve missed the blessing of knowing her if I hadn’t sought to network with others.
3. Women will be encouraged in leadership and ministry.
There’s nothing better than leaving a conference with a full brain and a full heart. I love that I don’t just learn from others, but I can dream of a preferred future God has birthed in my heart during a conference. It’s why I love taking teams. I don’t want to be the only one who gets inspired about the Lord’s next steps for ministry. I want others to join me in that excitement. It’s easier to move forward with your vision when everyone’s on the same page. Before coming to Lifeway, I was an attendee of the Women’s Leadership Forum. It would have been great by myself, but I invited three others, including two of my emerging leadership team members in their early 20s. I look back on those few days with fondness for what we experienced together and how we dreamed about the future.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kelly King is the women’s ministry specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources.)