I’ve recently read some criticism of the IF Gathering headed by Jennie Allen.
Some of it is just silly – “They start by asking if God is even real! Heresy!” Seriously! Paul used this literary device. Jesus asked questions that He knew the answers to. Just because someone asks “If God is real….” does NOT mean they don’t believe God IS REAL! Smh.
Some of the criticism on the web is clearly misinformed. By reading one article I quickly realized the writer had not ever listened to Jennie Allen speak. The author of the article had made assumptions based on who knows what.
I’ve been listening to and reading Jennie Allen. That woman LOVES JESUS! She points women towards Him and encourages, pushes, and inspires women TO STUDY THE BIBLE! She quotes scripture. She encourages us to pray and seek God. No, I don’t agree with her on everything. Yes, she’s flawed. (Aren’t we all?) Yes, she will make mistakes. Yes, she’s younger than me (and skinnier and cuter and peppier), yet I can learn from her and others of her generation if I am willing.
So…I spent time considering my thoughts on my experience attending If Gathering 2017.
Ok y’all. Here goes…Here’s my thoughts on the IF Gathering I attended a few weeks ago.
First, I love Jesus. I LOVE Bible study. I especially love inductive Precept Bible studies. (So does Jennie Allen. She told me so.) I’ve done dozens in the past five years. I even wrote a study published by Precept Ministries International. I love looking strictly at the Word of God. No one else’s opinions, just the Word. Looking up cross references makes me happy.
IF Gathering is not an indepth Bible Study. They never claimed it would be, so I was not disappointed.
Right now God has me doing and reading things besides indepth, inductive Bible Studies. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s so I’ll learn new things and grow in my faith and obedience to Him. Yes, I’m doing Bible studies at home, but I’m also doing lots of reading and activities that are way out of my comfort zone. IF Gathering is one of these things.
I’ve been doing Bible studies by many publishers and authors. Some I liked, others not so much. I’m reading books by authors I’ve never read before. Some authors I’ll read again. Others I won’t, they just did not click with me or I don’t like their writing style.
The same was true of IF Gathering; I enjoyed some speakers and will seek more talks and books by them, others I didn’t and won’t.
Some speakers were amazing, like Jill Briscoe for example. Some speakers got thinking about hard stuff. A few speakers did not resonate with me at all.
During some sessions I was taking lots of notes. Some I just listened to and enjoyed very much. Some sessions I’d have been glad to skip because I got little from them. Other sessions I wish had been longer.
Somethings that were said I disagreed with…and those things have caused me to think and pray and consider what I heard. I’ve had some conversations with friends since that weekend to learn their perspectives on those issues. It’s been good for me to hear a different perspective.
Here’s the deal: Unless a speaker is teaching heresy I can listen and take what I believe God is speaking to me, and I can set aside the rest to consider later. I can set aside parts that were the speaker’s personal perspective or opinion without feeling angst or guilt.
Much truth was shared at IF Gathering 2017. Lots of Bible truth was mentioned and taught.
Some of what was shared at IF Gathering 2017 was the personal perspective or opinion of the speakers – poetry, answers to personal questions about their life experiences, etc.
Some of those opinions I disagree with but I feel no need to criticize or correct. The speakers were chosen by the leadership, and they shared their own opinions. Cool. I can deal with that. I can agree or not without losing my faith or feeling the need to correct them.
In fact, I have no desire to correct or criticize anything from IF Gathering 2017.
Would I have chosen all of those speakers, all of those songs, all of those topics? Probably not. But I’m not in leadership. I’m not in charge. I’m not accountable to God for what was taught. The leadership of IF Gathering is accountable to God and it’s up to them to decide what to change and what to keep next year.
I am accountable to God to apply what He spoke to my spirit through this IF conference. I’m accountable for things He showed me which I need to work on. And trust me, there a bunch of things I need to work on in me! I am accountable for my attitude and my heart towards others. I am accountable for what I do with what I learned.
And I am accountable to pray for leadership in our community, in our church, and in our nation. May we all pray much before sharing any criticism or opinions.
One main goal of IF Gathering is to encourage women to do what God has called them to do. In their spaces. In their homes, churches, and communities. IF encourages women to build relationships locally and to share the gospel with those around them. Through IF Tables women are meeting monthly to do life together, to serve together, to grow in Christ together. All of these are beautiful things!
I have started reaching out to friends I’ve lost touch with. I’m leading a Bible Study called His Last Words in my home with gals from six churches. My husband and I lead an online study on Sunday evenings. These were planned before I attended IF, but what I heard that weekend confirmed and encouraged me to continue to reach out and to become more involved in my local community.
Yes, some folks may take what was said and pervert it, take it to mean they are to do something “powerful” and completely out of the will of God. That is the responsibility of the hearer, not the speaker and not the organizers. There will always be error in the Body until Christ returns because we are flawed humans. This doesn’t mean we stop trying.
We are each responding to take what we hear at any conference like IF Gathering (and from the pulpit of our home church) and hold it up to the light of scripture. We are each responsible to seek God regarding what we are to do with what we’re are taught.
Should you go to IF Gathering 2018? I don’t know. That’s between you and God.
One last note on IF Locals:
Before attending an IF Local, you might want to talk to the local leaders. Ask if they plan to participate in all of the Livestream Sessions or just some of them. IF Local leaders decide how they want to manage their event – location, food, fees, childcare or not, which sessions to share.
Some IF Local groups limit the sessions they show to reduce the length of time required. For example, one church I know hosts their IF Local a month later than the Austin event. They pick a few of the sessions to show from 9-3 on a Saturday. They provide child care as well.
The IF Local I attended had their own guests speaking during many of the sessions, which meant we missed some of the IF Gathering speakers on the Livestream. We didn’t have time for any of the IF Table Discussion Questions because they had their own program during the breaks and meals. We didn’t hear the session on last year’s ministry partner because the local leaders used that time to promote their local ministry. These were the choices of the IF Local leaders.
Each IF Local leader group decides which sessions they want to broadcast. If you want to view the entire program, you may want to choose a different local group or host your own.