Featured speakers included Nashville-area pastor David Landrith and author-speakers Margaret Feinberg and Priscilla Shirer, with music and worship led by Travis Cottrell and Kelly Minter.
The forum also featured 60 different breakout sessions on such topics as conversations between mothers and daughters; cultural bridges and boundaries; and helping the next generation fall in love and stay in love with Jesus and His church.
Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., told attendees he appreciated all they do in their churches. He added that when a church's women's ministry is strong, it typically pulls along a strong men's ministry.
Using Nehemiah as his text, Landrith reminded the women to expect and be prepared for opposition, saying it comes with the job.
"God can give you a 'holy discontent' when you know there's something you have to get into ," he said. "Some people don't get this and will try to discourage you."
Landrith listed several reasons for opposition:
-- Some people are threatened by others' success.
-- Some people are just jealous.
-- Some people have different agendas.
-- Some people are suspicious by nature.
-- Some people will lose face when others succeed.
-- Some people do not embrace change.
"But remember, the ultimate spiritual opposition comes from Satan," Landrith said.
Margaret Feinberg, author of an upcoming LifeWay DVD study based on her book, "Scouting the Divine," encouraged the leaders to look at cultural trends toward making wise decisions about women's ministry in their churches.
The Colorado author noted that one important trend is that young adults are marrying later, making it crucial for churches to adapt with ministries relevant to the needs -- expressed and unexpressed -- of this group.
Feinberg said it's unfortunate that so many young adults come to a church, look at the bulletin and see things for children, youth, families and senior adults, but very little for them.
"The top struggle of these young unmarried 20-somethings is loneliness," she said, noting that small things like remembering birthdays and noticing their first time at church can be huge.
"You'll have to be relationally oriented. Learn their love languages -- it will include food!" Feinberg said. Inviting young adults into your home, she said, and letting them help cook and generally incorporating them into your life is what it will take to keep them.
"We have to be highly intentional if we want to keep this age group engaged in our churches," Feinberg said.
Shirer, from suburban Dallas, pointed attendees to a typical day in the life of Jesus for eight principles to live by as they go about their ministry. She said they should ask God to grant them:
-- supernatural ability to handle the tasks ahead. "The enemy won't want you to do anything that requires the power of God," Shirer said.
-- Supernatural authority by truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.
-- Supernatural vision to see the unexpressed needs beyond what women you minister to say they need.
-- Supernatural energy to be ready to meet people where they are, even if you have already expended all your energy.
-- Supernatural priorities to discern what matters to you and what matters to God. Referencing the "tyranny of the urgent," Shirer said, "Sometimes the best thing you can do is to scale back your ministry."
-- Supernatural focus to stay honed in on specifically what God has for you to do and not being distracted by other good things you could be doing.
-- Supernatural compassion to accomplish ministry, remembering that without outreach there won't be balance in ministry.
-- Supernatural humility to remind you that true ministry is when your followers are clamoring to get away from you and get to Jesus. "Even John the Baptist's ministry was to point out Jesus," she said.
Shirer reminded the women that the goal of their ministries should echo Mark 1:45: "and they would come to Him from everywhere."
"I overheard two ladies talking in the hallway," conference leader and minister's wife Rachel Lovingood said to participants in one session during the Nov. 12-14 gathering in Nashville. "They said they were learning so much and that they were going to steal these ideas.
"Let me tell you," Lovingood said with a laugh, "if you want to think you are stealing these ideas because you get an adrenaline rush out of it, that's OK. But, ladies, we want you to take home everything you learn and use it. Pick each other's brains. Find out what other women are doing. Network with each other. Learn everything you can from one another."
Next year's Women's Leadership Forum -- the 15th anniversary of the event -- will be Nov. 9-11 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., and will feature author and Bible teacher Beth Moore. LifeWay Women also will host the first Girls' Ministry Forum in Nashville Feb. 26-27. Go to LifeWay.com/events for more information.
Polly House is a corporate communications specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources.
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