I don't know of a tidy way to start my recap of the 2014 Influence Conference, so I'll just jump right in. This year was so vastly different than any of the past two years, in the greatest of ways. I'd love to just tell the story in snippets.
The day before the conference, our core team of six sat around Lindsey Kubly's dining room table and dreamed and planned and dreamed and planned. We meet a few times a month throughout the year online, but something was shifting in this meeting. It seemed as if the things we'd been praying and talking about over the last few years were starting to pop into place. I think this created a real intimacy in our relationships, but more than anything a serious expectancy in our hearts of what God was up to. For the past few years it almost felt as if we've been doing the next best thing, with the wisdom we have, not incredibly sure where we'd end up. Until this weekend - when His light and vision and direction was suddenly giving us vision for the months and years ahead, instead of just the daily grace we needed.
Friday morning Hayley declared from stage, "I'm done with the try hard life". I don't know that there is a message we needed spoken over us more than that in the moment. That morning, we'd decided to add in worship right after our keynote sessions - right in the middle of the morning and I couldn't be more thrilled that we did. I cried, cried, cried worshipping that morning as we sang, "Lord, I need you". My heart was filled with personal burdens and discouragements that left me feeling needy and it was a joy to just be messy and ask Him for help.
A few months ago, we'd decided to add in "revivals" to our schedule. We kept declaring that the medium didn't matter - writing, family, work, instagram, social justice - they were all just mediums to proclaim the gospel. We decided to come together in our various areas and talk and connect and ask God to move in our specific mediums. I walked in to lead the instagram revival, absolutely without a plan, but I think revival happened. I'm not sure how to explain it, except that a room full of women got honest about building God's Kingdom through a picture taking app. And I can't wait to see how He moves out of it.
Friday night we'd added in a two hour member's only session with Lara Casey and like we imagined, walls started crumbling. Fears that women were believing were left on the floor. Roomates became allies as they stood with one another and spoke the gospel over each other. Lara led our women beautifully, in grace and truth. At the end, I said on stage that since our theme for the conference was "It's time to build", it was as if we'd all come to the conference dressed up in our strengths and good works - almost like we were wearing prom dresses to a construction site. Through Hayley's message, our other speakers, worship, and Lara's session - I felt like the Lord graciously stripped us and we were finally ready to build.
Saturday was just a big old blur of gospel and grace. I encouraged our women with "let's get weird" and told them that God hated my kingdom. Beautiful faces popped up beside me in the bathroom and the buffet line at lunch saying, "God hates my kingdom too". I heard Sammy Rhodes brought the tears and the Lord brought the conviction when he reminded our women, "Jesus loves you to death - literally". During worship that night, I think the Lord sealed in a lot of the work that had been done that weekend and I'm incredibly grateful.
Our speakers, I cannot thank them enough. The most loving, humble, passionate people - there is not one of those people I wouldn't have again. Our women? You guys? You MAKE our conference. Literally. When women come up to us throughout the weekend and thank us for putting on the conference, I'm not sure what to say. It is our HONOR and deep PRIVILEGE to lead this community because of how wonderful you ladies are. We cannot wait to grow with you and let the Lord point us where He wants to go.
It's time to build. There is a generation of women right now, with God-given influence, gifts and talents and passions and desires, and I believe our Father wants us to be spurred on and equipped and released to do Isaiah 61 ministry in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, nation, and world. We believe that for such a time as this, God wants to use The Influence Network to fan the flame and labor alongside the local church and community to remind women - you already have influence, right where you are, and you are either building His Kingdom or yours.
Next year we'll meet in Indianapolis, IN again - September 17th through 19th - and hundreds of you have already raised your hands and bought your tickets and said you'll be there. If you haven't gotten a ticket, I can't suggest grabbing one quick enough. Whether you can be there or not, my most sincere ask is that you make sure you join us over on The Influence Network where we get to do this same gathering and equipping all year long. In the next weeks and months, we're going to start stepping into that lighted path that God has given us and we need you with us.
It's time to build.
It's a get to, not a have to.
It's His Kingdom, not ours.
Let's do this.