LAST FEBRUARY I attended IF:Gathering in Waco. It is an event held in Austin Texas, founded by Jennie Allen. For the first time they made the gathering available for groups to host live all across the USA (actually the world, 22 different countries) via Live Stream.
There were at least three local events held in Waco, my city, and I choose the one held on Baylor Campus which was led by my friend, Sarah, a professor at Baylor.
The meaning behind the word IF is –
“If God is real then we went to live like it.
We exist to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.”
Speakers were from, of course Jennie Allen to Jen Hatmaker to Christine Cane to Ann Voskamp. And special guests like Bob Goff and his wife Sweet Maire, Shauna Niequest and Zach’s mom (he was the cancer victim who wrote the song Clouds) It was a seller lineup. Full of happy tears and sad ones too.
Being nervous and not wanting to grace such an event alone I asked my friend Julie to attend with me. I’m so glad she did. Looking back in my notes from last year the theme was Joshua from the Bible, specifically Numbers 13 where he was ready to conquer the promise land in-spite of the giants because he believed and trusted the God who brought them out of Egypt.
Joshua just believed.
The speakers unpacked areas of weakness and struggle. Unlike Joshua, we’re prone to wonder if we are enough. We worry about being safe and what this is going to cost me. Jen Hatmaker explained Faith like I’ve never heard it before and Christine Cane deflated all my dreams of chasing a platform and preached service. Bianca Olthoff asked what would happen if we just believe and Shelly Gigleo reminded us that today might not make sense but trust the God of the bigger picture.
Of course there was so much more, friends.
Out of the event they created this thing called IF:Table. It is, and I quote: “A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter – and maybe a few tears – but time spent that leaves us with glad hearts. Full hearts. Grateful hearts. Once a month in your local communities. The vision is, 6 women, 4 questions, 2 hours, (Acts 2:46)
They supply you with the questions and each month you gather your group around the table with food and discuss the questions they provide.
IN FAITH prompted by the event, I stepped out and risked starting a group. The idea of building community in my small town seemed like an awesome opportunity to get to know the locals better and hopefully feel more a part of and a deeper sense of belonging. I had Julie already. She agreed to committing.
I trusted in my God who sees the bigger picture and sent a message to an acquaintance, Jacque inquiring if she was even at all interested in this thing. It blew me away when she said yes and that she even had somebody else in mind to add to the forming table! What!? How awesome!!
Her friend, Meagan said yes and by the third IF:Table, her friend Emily was added making us 5. It’s crazy but God knew who He was gathering for our community group. All I needed was to just believe in God, do some asking and then watch Him form our table. One thing we all have in common, we are all transplants from other states or other areas of Texas.
I just love the people who shape our table. We started in April which means we’ve been gathering for 6 months of goodness by now. I think I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to each table gathering and getting to know each other better, hear our stories, learn from each other and change into more of who God called us to be.
>>>YOU can start your own IF:Table Gathering as well! Click this link to sign up and get the e-mails as a leader.
>>>OR curious but not sure who all to gather? That’s a great place to start. Prayerfully talk to God about starting one and let Him lead you and shape you as you contemplate.
Leave them in the comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to hear from you! No question is too insignificant!