Christian Conferences and Invisible Women

First there was the recent furore in America about the low proportion of women speakers in Christian Conferences, helpfully summarised by Jonathan Merritt. Then prominent tweeter @God_Loves_Women together with @boudledidge and @Helen_a13 analysed how many of the UK’s conference speakers were women, and I reproduce her findings below (with her permission). The results were quite shocking.

women conferences 1

women conferneces 2
 
Are UK conferences sexist?
 
There were perhaps 2 or 3 conferences that I know or suspect have some kind of complementarian theological framework that influences the low numbers, because they believe that women should not preach or teach men. But what was most surprising to me was that the vast majority of conferences are, on paper, ‘egalitarian’ in theology, (which is to say they believe women and men are equally called to serve God’s people in leading churches and teaching the Bible). In practice, they have twice as many male speakers as women.

 
Are UK Christian conferences sexist? The figures speak for themselves. Men were favoured as speakers in UK conferences by a ratio of approximately 2:1.
 
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Does the Bible support positive discrimination?

 
We have an example of positive discrimination in Acts 6. One section of the church was being neglected: the Hellenistic Jews. The Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked in the distribution of food in favour of the Hebraic widows. Seeing that this was wrong, the apostles appointed deacons to ensure that the food would be distributed fairly.They appointed seven deacons – and they all had Greek names.
 
What was the result? “The word of God spread.” (v7) It fostered unity and furthered the gospel. If a section of the church has been overlooked, it is good to appoint people from that section into leadership.
 
We need to try extra hard to appoint into leadership those whom society devalues – including women, ethnic minorities, elderly people, disabled people – not because of any worldly political correctness, but because of the Bible, and the character of God. God loves the widow and orphan and foreigner. He is a God of the oppressed minority.
 
Preacher Philip Brooks once defined preaching as ‘truth through personality’. Hearing someone from another country preach the Bible is one of the best ways to reveal our cultural blindspots. We need women’s voices: the voice of half the church. We need to hear the diamond of the gospel mediated through a myriad different voices and perspectives, so that the full spectrum of light can be seen.

 
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The problem of celebrity culture and invisible women
 
I have been the woman, looking down the roster of men who’ve been asked to speak, and wondering why I wasn’t. I have been the woman tagged onto a seminar as a ‘token woman’, alongside a man who people will assume is the main speaker, just so that they can tick the egalitarian theology box. I’ve also been the woman who has planned a workshop, with a ‘token man’ who feels like a patronised spare part because he is there to reassure those who would worry that I was speaking without a ‘head’, so that they can tick the complementarian box. Tokenism is always devaluing. I have been that woman.
 
But to be fair to these conferences, I have also been that organiser, desperate to find good female speakers, only to discover that the ones that I had so carefully ferreted out had withdrawn from ministry, either temporarily or permanently, because of childcare commitments, or being unable to find a full-time ministry job so returning to the secular workplace, or going overseas to serve as a cross-cultural missionary. So many women serve voluntarily after their training in ministry, that it is often hard to track them down.
 

The reason there are few women being asked to speak in conferences is not because there aren’t enough gifted women, nor always because a conference is being sexist. It is simply that the women are invisible.

 
One of the problems of big conferences is that they are prey to our unhealthy celebrity culture, an ugly, unfortunate trait that has crept into the church via Hollywood. We are the consumer. We only want to go to the conferences (and the churches) that have the famous speakers. We will only buy a book if it is an author we have heard of.
 

We want Big Names, at Big Churches, doing Big Things for God. And most of the Big Names are men, partly because there are more men running churches than women, and partly because we live in a patriarchal society that values men more than women. The cycle becomes self-perpetuating: we don’t want to hear women speak in conferences because they aren’t famous; and they aren’t famous because nobody hears them speak.

 

It takes some boldness for a conference to invite people they know will preach God’s word faithfully and prophetically, even if they aren’t already well-known in our Christian circles.
It takes some boldness for participants to sign up and pay money for a conference because they trust the organisers, and trust that God will feed them by His word and Spirit, rather than signing up to hear a particular Big Name.
 
If we are to break the cycle of patriarchy in conferences, we probably need also to break the cycle of celebrity culture.

 

What’s the solution?
 
A national list of female speakers. We need to make the women more visible. As a result of a discussion on these matters on Twitter, @God_loves_women is hoping to collate a list of female speakers. Anyone who knows a good female speaker in the UK can list their name (put their own name forward) below, and I will ensure those names get on the list when it’s done.
Quotas. Jenny Baker tells me that when Clive Calver was leading Spring Harvest he instituted a quota of at least one female speaker for every seminar team of three, which at the time was a radical improvement. Quotas ensure that we go searching for the gifted women, and we perhaps hunt harder for people who aren’t celebrities, but are equally gifted. Jenny Baker’s article on why quotas are helpful in changing a conference culture is a persuasive one.
Conference organisers (and participants) committing themselves to hearing different voices, rather than Big Names.
 

For me, this whole discussion has been a wake-up call, and one that I hope the church will take note of. Sexism is still a problem in our world, and in our churches. This is why I join with Sarah Bessey in calling myself a feminist as well as egalitarian, because by it I am saying that things are not yet as they should be. The aim is not matriarchy, but partnership and mutual service.
 

Having more female speakers at our national conferences will not solve the whole problem, but it is a good start.
 

Some questions for reflection:
 
Church leaders/conference organisers:

  • Are we committed to seeking out female leaders, training them up, investing time in them, affirming them equally?
  • How do we choose people in our teams or conferences – by their reputation and popularity, or by their giftedness?
  • What is the value of quotas?
  •  
    The rest of us:

  • Which kinds of people do we listen to or read?
  • Are they all PLU’s (People Like Us)?
  • Do we take time to seek out the preaching of the gospel from other wings of the church, from other countries, ages, class, gender etc?
  •  

     
    Over to you:

  • Which female Christian speakers have you heard and learnt from? (Hopefully we can compile a national database).
  • How balanced is your diet of speakers/authors/bloggers? Can you think of a time when you consciously listened to or read someone who wasn’t a PLU (People Like Us) – what did you learn?
  •  

    For further reading:
    God Loves Women – Are UK Christian Conferences sexist?
    Jenny Baker – Where are the Women?
    Jenny Baker – Thoughts on Quotas
    Martin Saunders – On the Youthwork Summit and Female Speakers
    Steve Holmes – Hate something, change something
     
    And the best analysis from across the pond:
    Rachel Held Evans – On being ‘Divisive’
    Sarah Bessey – In which I am still hopeful

    STOPPRESS UPDATE: I am happy to report, that following this post, tweeter God_Loves_Women is going to coordinate a national UK database. Initial plans can be found on her blog here. Email her at befreeuk@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list and receive further details later. Please spread the word!


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    48 Responses to Christian Conferences and Invisible Women

    1. Mo 21st November, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      I am a complementarian (admission) but have no problem with women speaking at conferences (for reasons that aren’t really important here.)

      I think the quotas idea is terrible. When I go to hear someone at a conference I want to hear the best person on the issue, male or female. Quotas will simply replace patriarchy with matriarchy. I have heard enough sub standard men speak because the complementarian organisers needed a man to cover the issue for which there was a really appropriate woman. I would not like that to begin happening the other way round.

      • Revsimmy 21st November, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        I think a careful reading of the post will allay fears that patriarchy will be replaced by matriarchy. Tanya clearly states that is not the intention of having quotas. The intention is to change the culture so that having women speakers is not seen as the exception. Once some kind of parity in assumption is achieved the need for a quota disappears.

        • Mo 22nd November, 2013 at 11:22 am #

          Revsimmy,
          I’m quite sure the intention of having quotas (for most people) would not be to enforce matriarchy. But if course, the intention (for most people) at the moment of having majority male speakers is not to enforce patriarchy, but apparently that’s what it’s doing.
          I fear the quota thing would undermine the case being made. If in an attempt to balance the gender make-up you end up with less good quality speakers, this will damage the cause, not help it.

          • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

            I find it interesting that you assume that more women speakers will mean ‘less good quality speakers’ overall…?

            • Mo 22nd November, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

              Not what I said. Quotas would mean that. I think a quota of any sort (including one for male speakers!) would mean that.

              • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

                I re-read your first comment – thanks, this is a little clearer.

                I am all for a meritocracy, and also dislike tokenism. But I do genuinely think there is a problem of great women speakers being out there, and never being asked.

                We only ask those people that we know of and trust, which is why our circles can get very small, and we need to throw the net out more widely. This is why I think that the combination of quotas alongside this database idea could actually work: if we widen the net to include those very able people who we haven’t heard of, then it becomes easier to fill those quotas without any drop in quality. This is essentially what Jenny argues in her post on quotas.

                I also think there is something to be said for quotas, in terms of ensuring we have a range of voices speaking in our conferences, and not just a range of topics being addressed by the same types of people in the same types of ways. This may be difficult to do always in a local setting, but I am confident that in a national setting it is possible to do, and do well.

              • Mo 22nd November, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

                The reply option doesn’t seem to be there for your comment Tanya. There is, of course, an issue here about what the remit of conferences is. I choose a conference based on there being someone I know and trust speaking on something I’m interested in. You seem to be suggesting that, in fact, they are there, also, to make some totemic point about the nature of the church; I’m not sure of that at all, and it is giving organisers a very hard sell.
                So I don’t see a problem with speakers only being those we trust within a small circle. I think it’s that trust that means people are willing to shell out not inconsiderable sums to go to a conference at all.
                Maybe some sort of “New voices” conference for people who agree with what you are saying here (and there seems to be a market) is a good idea. It’s the type of thing I’d go to for a day, not the type of thing we are going to spend money and a week of leave visiting as a family. The marketing people who run these things must know lots of people feel the same.

              • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

                Sorry about the lack of reply option, and thanks for this, which makes good points.

                Re conferences being ‘someone I know and trust speaking on something I’m interested in’ – yup, I think this is what we all do, pretty much. But if these people that we all know and trust happen to only be white men, because we’ve only ever heard white men, then surely that’s a problem?

                I think that ‘brand’ can be a useful tool for getting wider voices in. If someone trusts the ‘brand’ of their particular theological conference, then they can be open to not knowing the speakers. I kinda want to break the cycle of celebrity, somehow. I think it is possible. There was a clergy wives conference I used to go to each year, because it was particularly good at what it did, even though I had never heard any of the speakers before. So I think ‘brand’ can be an alternative to ‘names’, potentially.

                I do also like the idea of a New Voices conference. At the Christianity 21 conference (I don’t know much about the flavour or individual speakers), the format is fascinating – ’21 speakers giving 21 big ideas in 21 minutes each’. It also encourages attendees to apply to be one of the 7-21 speakers – 21 attendees give 7-minute presentations, with 21 slides. It sounds kinda full-on, and more of a lecture environment than a worship one, but it is a very good way of having a variety of voices in a short space of time (a weekend).

          • Revsimmy 22nd November, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

            ” the intention (for most people) at the moment of having majority male speakers is not to enforce patriarchy,”

            The problem at the monent is not necessarily the *intention* but the underlying, often unwitting and probably unexamined assumption that “the best” speakers will be male. These are the majority of big names who always get the invites (usually from male individuals and committees) regardless of whether there are women who could do just as good a job, if not better. Cultural assumptions like this, whether witting or unwitting, will only be changed if there is intentional action taken to make such a change. Quotas are such an intentional action which have the benefit of encouraging people to think through the choices to be made. In the early stages it feels a little strange (as it did at Spring Harvest). Over time, people get used to it (as they did at Spring Harvest – though there may still be some way to go here before parity is achieved, things are much better now than they were 30 years ago thanks to the efforts of Clive Calver and his successors) and greater equity is achieved.

            As to the point about “less good quality speakers”, I would echo Tanya’s questioning of that assumption. But I would also add that, even were this to be the case, this too is likely to be a temporary phenomenon as the newer female speakers gain the skills and experience in speaking and leading at these types of events. I think there is a long, long way to go before there is any danger at all of the “matriarchy” you seem to fear.

            • Mo 22nd November, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

              Revsimmy,

              As you’ll note it was you who brought up the issue of intention not me, I agree the problem, such as it is, isn’t to do with intentions at all.

              I guess we’ll just have to disagree about quotas; I think their effect is exactly to discourage thinking through speaker choices because a factor other than “who will be the best person?” becomes the organising principle.

              I’m glad you feel so sanguine about the risk of matriarchy. I have detected quite a lot of “this person is an educated white male and therefore doesn’t have something to contribute to the discussion” in this whole debate already. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

              • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:29 am #

                “I have detected quite a lot of “this person is an educated white male and therefore doesn’t have something to contribute to the discussion” in this whole debate already. ”
                I was genuinely surprised by this comment, and I’m sorry you feel that way. I think that everyone’s opinions are valid and deserve to be given consideration, and that both men and women need to contribute to this discussion. Do let me know if there is anything I have said that would give the impression to the contrary.

              • Mo 26th November, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

                Can’t find reply button again! Is it my settings?

                Anyway Tanya, just to clarify I didn’t mean “the debate on this blog” but “the debate in the blogosphere generally.”

              • Tanya 28th November, 2013 at 11:05 am #

                Thanks for clarifying, Mo – glad to hear it.
                (And no- it’s not just your settings – I’ve no idea why it doesn’t let you reply to me! Sorry!)

        • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

          Thanks, revsimmy – yes, definitely not trying to achieve some sort of matriarchy!

      • Esther Green 12th November, 2018 at 11:08 am #

        What I’m learning to understand that ever person no matter what gender they are has the right to speak it is from the persons
        Experience and knowledge that has impact there lives which enabled us to learn

        We are living in a democratic society giving everyone freedom of speech since my child Came out as Trans Last year my whole world has changed for the best as it’s opened up to a community that people are standing strong and together having s voice
        I have spent my st if my life in silence but that’s all starting to change Thanks to Amazing people like Vicky Beeching Susie Green Megan Kaye . Just ordinary women who in my eyes are awesome amassadors for diversity and human rights activist. I have hidden behind my faith now I’m learning to step out

    2. brett fish anderson 21st November, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      i thought this was an excellent post – have been following the whole gender issues in church/conferences question that seems to have become a lot more prominent to date and agree that there is much work to be done but i LOVED your focus on Christian celebrity and agree with you so very much [don’t get me started on the abomination of something like ‘Worship song of the year’ awards – really? my song worshipped God more than yours?] but that’s where we’ve gone – taking the pattern of the world instead of having out minds renewed and transformed to kingdom values… and the danger of the focus being put firmly on any man [or woman] is that it means it is less [to whatever extent] put on Jesus and that is where we get into trouble time and time again…

      thank you
      love brett fish

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

        Thanks so much! I am glad that you appreciated the focus on the problem of Christian celebritisation (just made up that word…) Writing this post has made me realise that looking beyond our immediate circles of those we know and trust means there is a need for greater collaboration with others, and greater trust for others’ opinions. I hope this at least raises awareness of the issues so it becomes something that is given adequate weight when conference organisers are planning.

    3. Sipech 21st November, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

      I’ve been umming and aaaahhing over this since this little flurry of stats and related blog posts started. The over-riding thought I’ve had was a quote I read recently in a book on economics: “We measure what we care about and we care about what we measure.” As an accountant, it’s certainly an idea I agree with. Not least due to the new provision of the Companies Act that requires us to report the number of men and the number of women both in total, and at the directorial and managerial levels.

      One thought was whether the conferences are the best place to start, or whether they are, in some sense, an “end point”. i.e. people who are invited to speak at conferences tend to be so because of some perceived expertise (hopefully justified). In terms of a christian conference, this will often be because they are either within a leadership position within either a prominent church (or prominent para-church organisation) or because they have had at least one book published. That won’t always be the case, but often. So we then are forced to ask whether that stats around the conferences are a problem or a symptom. If there a kind of sexism at play here, perhaps in lies deeper in church leadership structures and in publishing and that having greater equality there would naturally lead to greater parity at conferences.

      There are some factors which make me question whether any sexism is as blatant as portrayed. It goes back to my quote above and considering what we *haven’t* measured. For example, does the racial profile of the speakers above match the wider church? One that I notice (and have been roundly attacked for pointing out before) is the proportion of unmarried leaders/speakers. Do these mean that christian conferences are inherently racist, or prejudiced against single people? If we answer ‘yes’ to the question of sexism, then for consistency these are questions that must also be looked at with equal seriousness.

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

        Thanks for this – you raise some really interesting points. Re: are the stats at conference a problem or a symptom – I agree, it can be a bit ‘chicken and egg’ – the problems aren’t just in national conferences but local conferences and churches too. I guess my approach is to say, at a national conference you have a limited amount of speaker slots, and a rather wide net from which to choose. So it should be possible, and perhaps easier than local situations, to choose a balance of backgrounds without necessarily sacrificing the quality of presentation and content. The conferences with large resources, over and above the small, struggling parish churches, can most afford to set a good example in this, I believe.

        I would also agree that we need to focus on racial balance and, as you helpfully point out, a balance between single and married people. I suspect you may be right. It might well be that we have a bias towards leaders who are married men, in their late thirties or early forties, with young children. Apparently that is the same bias as our society – if you look at the last few Prime Ministers (or even the US Presidents), this would indicate that this is a worldly, rather than than Christian tendency.

    4. Fiona Lynne 21st November, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      This is interesting and so wise. Your action points feel so doable to me (is that naive?!) and I would love to see the UK becoming a place where women can take their place alongside at conferences men without apology or excuse. Looking forward to seeing that list too once it is compiled.
      I’ve been out of the UK a bit too long to really keep up, but I’d say to make sure Amy Orr-Ewing is on there, the women who speak at the Cherish conference (not sure of their stance but I have a friend here who attends their conferences religiously). Also Rev Rhiannon Jones in the Birmingham diocese is someone I’ve know since I was a toddler and she was babysitting me and I cannot sing her praises high enough. Maybe also Claire Page (author based in Oxfordshire) is great.

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

        Re: my action points seem doable – I really hope so! I think it always feels naive to hope for change, but sometimes that change comes.

        I will pass those names on to GLW for when she compiles the database.

    5. Hazel Flood 21st November, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Tanya,

      Thanks for this post, it is fab!
      For the list..I’ve heard Sarah Rowlinson, she was outstanding. Sarah comes from Horsham.
      (She is @PropheticSol on Twitter)

      Thanks again…

      And yes Kath..let’s change the world!

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

        Thanks, Hazel!
        I’ll make sure Sarah’s name gets passed on to GLW.

    6. Jamie 21st November, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Have I told you lately that you are brilliant? Wow, Tanya. I mean… Preach! Compiling a list is genius. The way you share the truth boldly but gently is stunning. Thank you.

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        You are FULLY lovely, Jamie. Thank you!

    7. Tim Carlisle 21st November, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Before I begin, I apologise in advance. I like statistics, I deal in numbers and facts – but I also drill down to root cause and effect.

      I think you have to add in the % game – sure quotas will work to some extent, as will ferreting out those gifted, trained, able and willing women but the problem MUST be deeper than conferences.

      Now I’m ‘probably’ a complementarian – and for me the Bible is the ONLY just reason why you might not have women teaching. (That said I am also of the opinion that the Bible is NOT completely clear on this matter and that there is room for ambiguity)

      So let me first be clear and say that (and as I think your post also does) I’m not really talking about those that are distinctly in the complementary camp – there is no need because IF their argument is correct, then it is based on the Bible – which carries the authority over whatever else we want, think or would like – however uncomfortable that is. And given the genuine ambiguity of this then we have to let this stand I think. (note that I have not said that those churches who suggest that tradition means we should not have women speakers/leaders are correct – they don’t have a leg to stand on any more than those who approve who give ‘progress’ as the reason why – the Bible is the only authority that counts)

      BUT in the Egalitarian camp it goes far far deeper, it has to. If there were female leaders of large churches then I think they WOULD be asked to speak at conferences. IF there were a geniune 50:50 divide in the numbers of paid church workers in each role then I think there might genuinely be an improvement in the number of speakers.

      But there are not equal numbers of women from egalitarian churches coming forward for ordination, training, episcopate as there are men and that means that the pool of women is smaller to start with.

      So you take a small pool of women, dilute it by those who are currently on a ministry break for whatever reason (but including children), dilute it further by those who are visible and the pool becomes very small.

      Now quota’s as you suggest helps to stop this being a problem – but it offers no long term solution (although it must be said that I it would surely influence the size of the pool in the first place)

      No what ultimately needs to happen in the egalitarian churches is for more women to come forward into speaking/leading ministry. Now read that again – and it sounds like I’m now saying that it’s the women who don’t come forwards fault – only we know it’s not.

      No the issue is down to church level, its down to local church level. In some egalitarian churches the leaders will promote, value, love, encourage women in whatever ministry they have. But in others male leaders play lip service to egalitarians but for whatever reason fail to follow it through in their churches. Whether this is because they feel threatened by giving teaching duties to a capable women or because what they say and what they believe are different I just don’t know. But surely here there is a duty for churches, both at national and local levels to actively promote and encourage women to get that pool size up?

      Now this argument becomes circular right about now – because if there are a greater number of women chosen to become speakers at conferences – then those leaders who go, and the potential women speakers of the future who go WILL both be influenced by that.

      So yes we need quotas, yes we need to make women less invisible – but we also need to case vision and change those churches. As for me – I’m not sure – I’m kind of ambigious I think….

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

        Thanks so much for this – I really appreciate your thorough, in-depth consideration of the issues. There is definitely a circular aspect to this (chicken and egg thing), as Sipech expressed as well.

        However, I am a little pragmatic on this.

        Let’s say there are 200 speakers at a big national conference. That means finding 100 women ministers in the UK who would excel in their various fields. Even taking into consideration those who are on a childrearing break (though it’s worth pointing out that many, such as Nick and Becky Drake, appear to both be able to continue in speaking engagements despite having young children – not sure how they do it!), I reckon you could find 100 well-qualified women speakers who would suit that particular theological brand.

        The reason I’m arguing to change conference culture first is because it’s easier to do. The logic typically is, ‘change the churches, then the conferences will reflect a better church situation’ – which is a good point. But how do we change the churches? One way is to show them a model of how it can be – and one of the easiest ways of doing that is to have some kind of parity among conference speakers. I think your comment has helped me to clarify that in my own mind – thank you.

        • Tim Carlisle 22nd November, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

          I think you’re right – I think that’s what my second to last para says – my argument I think is for a both not either/or…. (which may just be dreamland)

          On consideration I think there needs to be an ‘every possible attempt made to ensure equality in numbers’ type thing rather than a quota – and I say this for two reasons.

          1. Because you don’t want someone not good enough to be given a gig to meet a quota – EVER. The SA cricket team had a quota system – and at times it has meant their team is weaker as a result because players who are not good enough got picked based on the colour of their skin (I don’t want to get into whether I think that might have been a good thing anyway or not).

          2. The quota system then encourages the ‘token’ female system I think. Only instead of one or two tokens there are loads of them… this doesn’t make it any better.

          3. That said plenty of men who aren’t good enough do get asked – kick em out and get some women who would be in.

          4. Ultimately we want to get to the situation where you have the 100 best people to do the job regardless of colour or gender – that may mean more women than men, it may mean more men than women but you have to hope that we get to the situation (probably not in my lifetime) where the gender doesn’t make a difference – it’s the quality that does. At the moment gender undeniably plays a part in selection (in favour or men) so we need to tip the scales the other way.

    8. Kath 21st November, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Ooooo I like this. A Lot. Would be intrigued to see how that list is collated… What counts as a ‘good’ speaker? How can we help gifted women get good at communicating to larger numbers? How is it really possible to get the invisible visible and for what purpose? I think a vital question is how can we develop more spaces where women are encouraged to develop their gifts, learn from each other etc so they can bless the communities where they aren’t invisible, where they live and move and dwell? How can we challenge the local church to develop women in these gifts? There is probably a wider question at the back of my head as to the point of large conferences in the first place… do they just cultivate the celebrity culture anyway or should we create our own conference with a guaranteed list of women speaking that you’ve never heard of- I’d speak at that! 😉

      Anyways best get back to the sermon…
      Keep on thinking and writing- very important questions, sorry to have a load more questions for you!
      One day we’ll change the world, one day…

      • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

        I’m GLAD you like this!!

        Re – how list is collated… I am thinking at the moment that we fill it with a mixture of self-nominations and recommendations, and make it as huge as it can possibly be. Then narrow it down by categories – so areas of expertise, theological framework/network, age/experience etc. I think it would narrow itself down quite readily, but at least there’d be a wider pot in the first place.

        How can we help more women get good at communicating to larger numbers?
        Oh Kath.

        This question has got me dreaming a little.
        I used to train people to teach the Bible.
        We would also get people in to teach them some of the public speaking tricks.
        Then I would watch them fly.
        And women* who had previously just assumed they had no speaking ability whatsoever would suddenly find themselves pondering what to do with this speaking gift they’d just discovered.

        I’m suddenly missing it all.

        *It wasn’t just the women who were good at speaking. We helped them all to fly. But by and large, the men on the course already sort-of-assumed they were good, and the women had assumed they weren’t, and those were the biggest transformations.

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