Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Cruciform Conference

What a joy it was to help kick off the first annual Cruciform Conference last weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana!

I spI wIth mI lIttle I
somethIng’s mIssIng from Indy’s welcome to vIsItors!

The theme of Cruciform this year was The Cross Purchased Life. We were treated to wonderful cross-centered preaching from a number of pastors, speakers, and godly men, including a couple of my Twitter friends…

Dustin Benge                                           Kofi Adu-Boahen

I had the honor of teaching two breakout sessions just for women.

Faithfully Fighting Feminism:
Fighting the Good Fight by Walking Out Biblical Womanhood

Click here for the session outline handout.

 

Hooked on a Feeling:
Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions

Click here for the session outline handout.

 

One of my favorite parts of conferences is meeting social media friends face to face. Bunking with Michael and Erin Coughlin for two days was so much fun. They were so kind and hospitable, and I owe them a million thanks for treating me like a queen. If you’ve been around the blog a while, you may recall that Michael has written several guest posts for me. He also writes for the Things Above Us blog and hosts the Things Above Us Roundtable podcast which Michael interviewed me for during the conference. And Erin does everything else. It was a delight to get to know this sweet sister in Christ!

Erin and me

L-R: Michael Coughlin, Amy (whose last name I can’t remember, but who was such a blessing to drive me to the airport!), me, Erin

with Dustin Benge                                      with Kofi Adu-Boahen

with Kofi and Michael

And, of course, what’s a conference without books? Thanks so much to Cruciform, Michael, and Allen Nelson for these lovely gifts. (You can read a review of Before the Throne here, if you like.)

I was in Indianapolis less than 48 hours, and most of that was at the conference, so I didn’t have time to do any touristy stuff. For all you Indy Car fans, here’s a display that was set up in the airport on loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum:

Normally, when I go on a trip, in lieu of buying souvenirs, I try to have a meal of whatever food is iconic to that area (clam chowder in Cape Cod, Chicago deep dish pizza, etc.). I’m clueless as to what sort of cuisine is iconic to Indiana, but we found a phenomenal little local taqueria that you simply must visit if you’re ever in Indianapolis: Paco’s Taqueria. (Like I said, I was in Indy less than 48 hours and we had two meals at Paco’s. It was that good.) Traditional style tacos, quesadillas, and lots of other choices made by folks who know how those dishes are supposed to be cooked. I can highly recommend the shrimp, ground beef, and chicken tacos, but everything looked and smelled wonderful. I am officially obsessed with these tacos.

 

All too soon, the conference was over and it was time to head back home. But I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at next year’s Cruciform Conference along with Justin Peters, Justin Huffman, and more great men of God (to be announced at a later date) that you won’t want to miss! You’ve got almost a year, so start making plans now to attend October 23-24!

Many thanks to those of you who helped make this trip possible!


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits

Cruciform Conference video and promo pics- Courtesy of Cruciform Conference

Photos of friends at the conference- Some of these were taken by Michael or Erin Coughlin, but I can’t remember which ones. Probably the good ones.

Photo of tacos- Courtesy of Paco’s Taqueria on Facebook

All other photos by Michelle Lesley

Speaking Engagements, Special Events

Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget

 

Have you ever wanted to host a women’s conference (or any event, really) at your church, but it just wasn’t in the budget?

My husband and I have served a lot of small churches, so those tight-knit fellowships and their pastors hold a special place in my heart – especially the ones who want to give their ladies a doctrinally sound alternative to the mega-conferences whose doctrine can be questionable at best.

I’ve spoken at some absolutely wonderful conferences hosted by small churches, so I know it can be done with excellence if you’re not afraid to think creatively and work efficiently.

Here are a few suggestions to prayerfully consider if you’re putting together an event on a shoestring budget. And readers, I want to hear from you too – what has your church done to support and finance special events that has worked well? Add your comment in the comments section at the end of the article.

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I’m going to start with a principle that applies to anyone doing professional work for your church, from conference speakers, to the band playing a concert at your youth event, to the plumber fixing the pipes in the bathroom, to the accountant who does your church’s bookkeeping:

You must pay workers, and you must pay them a fair wage or fee in addition to their expenses (travel, lodging, etc.).

I’ve been blessed that every host church I’ve ever spoken at has understood this and has been very generous with me, but I’ve heard that there are Christians out there who expect anyone doing anything for their church to do it for free because it’s “ministry”. Some even begrudge paying their pastor a salary! This is not biblical. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite.

It often takes many hours of hard work to properly prepare for a speaking engagement, concert, etc. (And don’t get me started on how much time pastors put into their jobs compared to the salaries most of them earn.) This pre-event work as well as the event itself may take the worker away from her family or cause her to have to cancel other activities. She may even have to take time off from her regular job to work at your event. What she’s doing for you is work and she deserves to be fairly compensated for it. This is one aspect of your event that you can’t cut corners on.

Sometimes it is hard to know what a fair wage is for the worker you’re hiring. And, indeed, it will vary from worker to worker. Ask her for a number. Figure out whether or not that amount is feasible on your end. Then, be honest with her and let her know whether or not you can guarantee (not try to raise, not “take up a love offering at the conference and hope for the best” – guarantee) that amount. If you can’t, it is then up to her to decide whether or not she can afford to work at your event. Being honest and transparent from the get go helps remove a lot of the awkwardness that comes with talking about money. I know I always appreciate it.

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Now that you know one of the expenses for the event, it will be easier to estimate a  budget to cover it and the rest of the expenditures. Sit down with your planning committee and prayerfully discuss the purchases you’ll need to make for food, decorations, and any other materials, and come up with a reasonable budget for your particular venue. Use godly wisdom and exercise good stewardship.

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Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization. I’ve seen many churches go with a “simple elegance” or “homestyle” or “local charm” level of theme and decor that has turned out perfectly lovely and welcoming (Check out some of the church events I’ve spoken at.). And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.

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Plan your event as far in advance as possible. Not only will this give you plenty of time to raise funds, but some expenses – plane tickets for your speaker, for example – go up as time goes by.

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While some speakers need to stay in a hotel for various reasons, others are perfectly willing to be fed and housed by church members, which can cut your expenses considerably. Ask your speaker which she prefers and be ready to graciously provide either type of accommodation.

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Go local. If you can find an appropriate speaker who lives in or near your town, it will cut down on your travel and accommodation expenses for her.

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Ask your pastor or elders if there is any money set aside in your church’s budget for the women’s ministry or special events. Find out whether or not you can use it and if there are any requirements for how it must or must not be spent.

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Put the word out to your whole church and ask for help. Make a list of the things you’ll need that people can donate or lend: fresh flowers from members’ gardens for centerpieces, table cloths, paper plates, small gift bag items like pens and notepads, snack items, etc.

You could even have some fun with it and throw a women’s conference “shower,” registering for the items you need (even WalMart and Target have registries these days) and inviting the whole congregation to bring their gifts and come fellowship together. And don’t forget the “money tree” (or some other receptacle) for people who would rather give cash or a check.

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Take up a love offering from your congregation for conference expenses. If your conference is far enough ahead in the future, you might be able to take up two or three over time.

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Consider a crowdfunding campaign for event expenses such as Go Fund Me or Kickstarter (there are even Christian crowdfunding sites), or set up a PayPal account specifically for donations for the event. (Some Christians feel it is biblically inappropriate to ask non-Christians to donate to a Christian cause. You will need to find out where your church stands on this issue when deciding who to share the crowdfunding information with.)

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Have a good, old fashioned fundraiser at church, such as a church-wide “garage sale,” bake sale, or car wash.

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Consider partnering with another doctrinally sound local church (or two or three!) to co-host the event and split the expenses. (Check out their doctrine first. You can’t biblically partner with churches that teach false doctrine.)

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To recoup your expenses (don’t depend on these to cover expenses) and maybe set some money aside for your next event, consider selling tickets at a nominal price, suggesting a voluntary donation amount, or “pay what you can,” for tickets, and/or taking up a love offering at the event.

Most attendees could afford, say, a $5 ticket, and if you have 100 attendees, that’s $500 to start off next year’s event budget. You could also offer the option of sponsoring tickets. People who want to support the conference could give enough money to cover a certain number of tickets, which could then be given away to women who would like to attend but can’t afford to.

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It should go without saying, but be sure to get your pastor’s, elders’, or other leadership’s approval every step of the way.

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With plenty of prayer, wisdom, organized planning, and good stewardship, it is possible for small churches to host an awesome event that will glorify God and be a blessing to the women of your church and community.


Here’s a question a few readers asked
in response to the article above.

 

I loved your article Women’s Events on a Shoestring Budget. The funding tips encouraged me to put on an event for our ladies, but our small church has never done anything like this before. What kind of event should we have and how should we get started?

I was so encouraged to get a couple of questions like this in response to my article. Even at a small church (and sometimes especially at a small church) a women’s event can really help refresh and build up the ladies of your church. It can be a great outreach to the ladies of your community, too.

I would recommend starting small and then growing year by year. For example, if I were in a church with an attendance of 50-150, I would start with an in-house (only ladies from your own church) mini-conference. A Saturday morning simple breakfast (coffee, doughnuts, fruit – food that’s easy to get, serve, and handle), followed by a local speaker (maybe the pastor’s wife at a sister church, or even one of the ladies in your own church) and a couple of songs. You could end there, or possibly have a time of discussion around the tables afterward, or just allow the ladies to hang around and fellowship with each other.

The next year, you could build on that. Maybe the speaker does two sessions with a break between, and you invite/publicize to other local churches. The following year, you could do an overnight retreat or you could expand the conference to an all day thing and have more than one speaker. If you start small and grow your event each year, you’ll learn things you should and shouldn’t do differently along the way, and you won’t be biting off more than you can chew the first time out.

Another thing that might be a good idea is to have a meeting with all of your ladies and ask them what kind of event they’d like. You might be thinking “conference” and they might be thinking “movie night”. It’s good to brainstorm and take the pulse of your ladies on what they’d prefer.

You could also get the men of your church involved in putting together and serving at your conference or event. I spoke at one conference where the men of the church actually put on the conference for their ladies – to honor and thank them. That was one happy bunch of ladies!

Just remember what I said in the article: Don’t try to compete with the expensive glitz, glam, and giveaways of mega-conferences. You do you, your church or host organization…And remember, it’s the caring and hospitality of the hosts that will make the greatest impact on your attendees, not the swanky food, decorations and swag bags.

Speaking Engagements

Reliance on God and His Word Conference Audio

 

It was my joy, recently, to speak at the Reliance on God and His Word conference at Princeton Bible Church.

PBC was so kind to record audio of the main sessions of the conference:

I hope you’ll enjoy my two sessions…

Relying on God and His Word

 

Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Reliers Only

 

You can also listen at PBC’s website and hear Amy Spreeman’s wonderful sessions as well!

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Princeton

It was such a blessing to speak last weekend at Princeton Bible Church’s Reliance on God and His Word women’s conference. I was tremendously encouraged, and I hope you will be too as I share a bit about the conference with you.

PBC is beautiful and homey

Thursday evening was a delicious potluck dinner with the ladies of PBC. I’ve learned two things from traveling around to different churches: 1) church ladies are the same everywhere you go (And why wouldn’t we be? We’re all sisters in the same family!) so I always feel at home, and 2) church ladies know how to cook! A wonderful time of good food and sweet fellowship was had by all (which is why I forgot to take a picture – I was too busy enjoying myself!).

Amy Spreeman and me

On Friday, at long last, I got to meet my dear friend, Amy Spreeman, for the first time face to face. What a gift this woman is to the body of Christ! Intelligent and well-studied, wrapped in the grace, humility, and compassion becoming of a woman of God, Amy is a joy and a delight. It has been my pleasure to recommend Amy and her uber-helpful materials at Berean Research and Berean Examiner many times here at the blog. I was honored to share the stage with her at the conference.

Getting ready for the first session

Friday night was the opening conference session. My talk centered around the theme of the conference, Reliance on God and His Word, and dealt with the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and the necessity of God’s Word in our daily lives.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off with an ample breakfast in the gym for all. Sustenance is necessary for a full day of Bible teaching!

Amy’s main sessions and breakout session centered around discernment, false gospels, and the New Apostolic Reformation. I found the sessions helpful and informative, and I’m sure all the other ladies did, as well.

My main session explored applying the sufficiency and authority of God’s word to our every day lives in the areas of obedience and godly decision-making. In my breakout session we discussed the application of Scripture when dealing with situations of sin and suffering.

The ladies were also treated to sessions from one of the lovely ladies of PBC, Deb Bullington, as well as a missionary who spoke about her experiences.

You can listen to the audio from the conference at PBC’s website.

First Thessalonians 5:18 was a verse I used in one of my sessions, so I was delighted to see this hanging just outside the sanctuary.

A long day of teaching, fellowshipping, and answering questions builds up quite an appetite, so after parting from these wonderful women of God, PBC’s Pam, Erika, and Erika’s husband, Mike, whisked me off to The Prime Quarter Steak House where I continued my travel tradition of eschewing souvenirs in favor of eating the food most iconic to the locale – in this case, hearty Midwestern beef.

The Prime Quarter offers the option of grilling your own steak!
I decided I had had enough excitement for one day and left it to the professionals.

I loved seeing the picturesque farmland of Illinois.
This beauty is right across the street from the church.

PBC’s women’s committee kindly made sure I got some souvenirs anyway: regionally harvested honey, locally made chocolates, a magnet of Princeton, and a journal (which just happens to have my favorite flower {pink roses} and a verse from my favorite Psalm {37} on the front).

After a lovely Sunday morning service worshiping with my brothers and sisters at PBC, it was time to say goodbye. Many thanks to Pam, Erika, Mike, Justin, Curtis, Jessica, and all the hard-working men and women of Princeton Bible Church for your sweet hospitality and for putting on such a wonderful conference. I highly recommend this warm and welcoming church to anyone in the Princeton area who is looking for a doctrinally sound body of Believers to join.

If your church is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits:

1- Photos courtesy of Princeton Bible Church
2- Photo courtesy of Amy Spreeman
3- Photos courtesy of The Prime Quarter Steakhouse (Facebook)
(All other photos by Michelle Lesley)

Speaking Engagements

You’re Invited to a Women’s Conference!

 

Ladies, if you’re in (or can get to) the Princeton, Illinois area, you’re invited to Princeton Bible Church’s

Reliance on God and His Word

women’s conference.

You know her from Naomi’s Table, Berean Research, and Fighting for the Faith, and I’m so excited to be partnering with the one and only Amy Spreeman for this conference! We’ll be addressing a variety of ways Christian women can hope in Christ and view the Bible as our sufficient authority and trustworthy guide for all the issues of life.

Registration for the conference is open, but space is limited, so check out all the details below and register today. The first 20 registrants will be entered to win a bundle of books and goodies!

(If your church or women’s group is looking for a speaker for your next event, I’d love to come share with your ladies! Find out more at the Speaking Engagements tab at the top of this page.)

The Reliance on God and His Word Women’s Conference

Dates/Times:

Friday, March 29 – 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
(Continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks, and coffee will be provided.)

Location:

Princeton Bible Church
21890 U.S. 34
Princeton, IL 61356

Cost:

FREE

Registration, Contact Info., and More Information:

Conference App

Conference Registration Page

Facebook Event Page

Princeton Bible Church website

Please feel free to share this information with friends or churches in the area who might like to attend. Amy and I hope to see you there!