By Laura Landry
Women who desire to reach other women with the Gospel must know the truth, teach the truth and live the truth, speakers at the Women’s Leadership Consultation said.
The conference rotates between the six Southern Baptist seminaries, and this year it was hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The purpose of the consultation is to provide inspiration and training for women in leadership positions in local churches,” coordinator Rhonda Kelley, adjunct professor of women’s ministry at NOBTS, said.
“It is exciting to see so many women called by God to minister to other women. God is at work in the lives of these women who are committed to the truth of His Word,” Kelley said.
The theme of this year’s conference, “TRUTH: Hang Life on It,” unified the messages of three keynote speakers as they addressed women leaders from the greater New Orleans area and other states. Lisa Pierre of Houston led the women in worship throughout the conference along with NOBTS students Jennifer Hoover, Joy Pigg, Stephanie Brutlag and Lauren Waggoner.
The consultation Feb. 6-8 kicked off with a worship rally, which drew more than 300 women, including 50 from Women at the Well, a women’s rehabilitation ministry located near the seminary campus.
Mary Jo Sharp, assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University and founder of the Confident Christianity apologetics ministry, spoke Thursday night and Friday morning. Sharp is author of LifeWay’s “Why Do You Believe That?” and notably the first woman to become a certified apologetics instructor through the North American Mission Board.
On Thursday night, Sharp used John the Baptist’s doubt in Luke 7 to remind the women of God’s tenderness toward the doubts of a sincere heart and the security of faith in Christ.
On Friday morning, Sharp challenged women’s ministry leaders to defy the postmodern cultural claim that truth is strictly a personal matter. She illustrated the role that apologetics has in evangelism by sharing her personal struggle with doubt after coming to Christ from atheism.
“A claim of truth in and of itself is not arrogant or intolerant, it is simply reality. Truth exists,” Sharp said.
During the Friday afternoon portion of the conference, participants chose two workshops from more than 25 options. Seminary presidents’ wives and other women leaders in SBC life taught the workshops with topics ranging from “The Truth about Women’s Ministry” with LifeWay’s Chris Adams to “The Truth about Pornography” with NOBTS graduate Tasha Levert.
The speaker for the Friday night general session was Courtney Veasey, director of Women’s Academic Programs at NOBTS. Veasey opened her message with a look at the Barmen Declaration of 1934, challenging the leaders in the audience with the power of Scripture to transform their lives and their ministries. She compared their hearts to an iPod, saying that much like someone must download music to an iPod in order for it to serve its purpose, our hearts remain untransformed if we do not download the truth.
“The Word is useless in our lives if we don’t open it,” Veasey said. “The text reveals how to walk as Jesus walked.”
Veasey also referenced the movie “A League of Their Own” to illustrate a woman’s role in leading others to transformation through Christ.
“It is our job to get them on the train. It is Christ and His truth that will make them a part of the team,” Veasey said.
After a third workshop, Monica Brennan, professor and director of Women’s Ministry at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., spoke at the final general session Saturday morning. Brennan focused on the importance of living the truth, saying, “We make Him known the most by the lives we live.”
Brennan conveyed a personal story of sharing the truth with a woman she met at Walmart. Living a life dedicated to the truth opens the door for God to use them at any time and through any circumstance, she told the women at the conference. Brennan echoed Sharp and Veasey when she challenged the women to exemplify Christ by planting the truth of the Word in their hearts.
“Expect tests, trials and tribulations [and] live the truth anyway. Don’t give up,” Brennan said.
Kelley said of the conference, “The Holy Spirit spoke His truth to participants who left with commitment to faithfully live counter-culturally and according to God’s standard.”
Adams, who led a workshop, said those who traveled to New Orleans to teach and equip others also left encouraged.
“The Women’s Leadership Consultation at NOBTS was so anointed from the messages on truth in the sessions to the worship led by Lisa Pierre,” Adams said. “I was so blessed to be able to fill up and be strengthened as I led breakouts.”
Next year’s Women’s Leadership Consultation will be hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.