If God is real…then what?
“I think as women we experience many different stages in life where our identities - as students, daughters, professionals, wives, or mothers - shift a bit. We’re forced to really look at who we are, who God calls us to be, and who we WANT to be. “
Can you relate?
About a year ago, Cathy Brown, wife and stay-at-home mother of three from Pennington, New Jersey, found herself in just such a shift. At 10, 12 and 13, her three children were less dependent on her physically. For the first time in more than a decade, she had margin in her days and resolved to be intentional about the story she was writing with the life she’d been given.
It was then that Cathy heard about the IF:Gathering from Christian women authors and bloggers she followed. Women such as Ann VosKamp, Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, Rebekah Lyons, and Shauna Niequest. The tagline of the conference, “IF God is real, then we want to live like it!” resonated with her.
The IF:Gathering first took place last February in Austin, Texas, and sold out in minutes. The organizers determined to make the content available through a live webcast. From there, it blossomed and took shape. Women spontaneously gathered friends and neighbors into their homes to watch and share in the experience. The organizers may not have expected or orchestrated the way it caught on like wildfire, but when they saw how hungry women were for this - and how the internet provided a new platform to unify a diverse and broad gathering of women worldwide - it was undeniable that God’s spirit was at work.
So what exactly is IF?
So many of us can be set free from our sin, but for various reasons get tired or wounded and become sidelined in the race. We don’t think of ourselves as mission-critical to what God is doing in this world and struggle with feeling insignificant and bored. We begin looking for purpose and meaning.
IF exists to “gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.”
IF is more of a movement than a conference. Not a movement where women are gathered together in one place to exact change, but one that believes women are already impacting those in their spheres of influence…their churches and neighborhoods and workplaces. The founders of IF desire to provide each woman the inspiration and resources necessary to help them continue to bloom where they are planted.
- IF:Table encourages women to gather a few friends for a meal on a regular basis and talk through some provided conversation topics to further connections with each other and God.
- IF:Equip is similar to an online Bible Study, where an email provides a Bible passage to study each morning and a link to a brief video where a few IF leaders discuss the passage. You’ll find it all free-of-charge at ifgathering.com.
Last summer, the call went out for women to step up and become IF:Local leaders - hosting events in their home towns. Cathy felt God nudging her to answer yes - to leave the home office where she had watched the live webcast alone, and find a way to make it available to other women who wanted to run this faith race together.
The result of Cathy’s yes?
The IF:Central Jersey event…an interdenominational gathering for women of all ages and backgrounds, seeking God together in unity and humility.
Come watch the live webcast and share in times of prayer, worship, and conversation. The theme for this year’s conference is BELIEF. What are the reasons we don’t always believe? How do we believe? What would happen IF we believed? It will include a look at the life of Joshua and his incredible faith in God’s promises.
Cathy says, “I’m excited and terrified! I’ve never tried to organize anything like this before - yet I hear stories of sisters throughout the country and even the world who are stepping out in faith - and I just know God is going to show up. I know He is going to move here in New Jersey and I want to be there with a seat to see what He does.”
The event is Friday, February 6, from 5pm-10pm, and Saturday, February 7, from 9am - 5pm, at Central: a Christ-centered church in Ewing, NJ. Registration deadline is January 28th. There is a suggested donation to IF and a fee of $30 to cover the local hosting expenses, dinner Friday evening, and a light breakfast Saturday morning.
For a brief glimpse into the passion and heart of IF’s founder Jennie Allen, watch this video or visit http://vimeo.com/109950444.
Toni loves God, her kids, caring for others, baking, chocolate!, and walking along the shores of her beloved lake – the setting for her blog. Toni has written devotions for christiandevotions.us and The Quiet Hour. She is praising God for the opportunity to make her passion - showing God’s love through practical acts of service - her new, full-time profession. As the Benevolence Ministry Manager for her church, she is able to hand car keys to a single mom, open the doors to the food pantry serving many area families, and assist those with urgent financial needs. Her life and ministry are living proof of the truth found in Ephesians 3:20 as God continues to do abundantly more than she could ever imagine.