She Speaks Q&A

Today I’m joining Lysa TerKeurst and some others from Proverbs 31 Ministries in a Q&A; about She Speaks, our annual conference for women who feel called as speakers, writers and women’s ministry leaders. This year we also have some special sessions for bloggers!

I’m answering some questions below that were posted on her blog yesterday.

How many people attend this conference?
Last year we had right at 400 and were sold out. This year we are planning for around the same number.

How large are the breakout sessions, and is there time to ask questions and talk to the speakers?
The break-out sessions range in size from 20 -100. Many of the speakers allow time for Q&A; and/or they stay after the session to answer questions. Also, all of us as speakers are available in the hallways, at meals and during small group time for questions. We try to be as available as we possibly can.

Is it always in June? Is it always in NC?
We host the conference in early summer for several reasons. It’s a time when churches have scaled back event schedules so leaders can get away more easily. It also allows them time to meet speakers that might be a good fit for the next year’s events. It’s also the best time for us as a staff and speaker team since there are significantly less engagements during this time of year. It’s also usually before most of us and our attendees start our summer vacations.

We host the conference in NC because it’s so much easier on us as a ministry to do something of this magnitude in/near our home office. It’s also much more cost effective because we don’t have to cover the travel expenses of so many of our conference staff/volunteers and speakers. We have been invited and encouraged by others to bring She Speaks on the road. We hope to be able to do that one day. It’s all in God’s timing and through His provision, so pray with us that He’ll make that possible

I live about 45 min to an hour away from where the conference is being held, is it possible to commute back and forth, or do you need to stay there to get the full effect?
That is a hard question because you’ be driving 1.5 hour each day to get there and back. If you were closer I think it might be easier. A lot of connecting with other women and having down time with God alone is a powerful part of the conference, as well as the sessions. I’d just hate for you to miss the full experience. But if it’s what God is leading you to do and it would make it possible to attend, I know He’ll make sure you get the most out of it.

I’m praying about which track to follow- writing or speaking? Is it possible to do both?
Our break-out sessions are a la carte – choose any type you want. Then we have sessions based on track chose in the evenings when we meet in groups for writer’s topics and peer feedback, women’s ministry sessions and networking, or speaker evaluation groups. You will be placed in a group based on the track you choose. So, basically you choose where you want to connect with others, get feedback and additional training during the evenings. You do have to stay within your track group during those time frames..

If am interested in writing and speaking, would you recommend following the track of my greater strength or where I most need work? You can take both writing and speaking workshops, but I would choose the track where you feel God calling you to get more feedback because that is where you will benefit during those times. (see above)

How do you decide between a speaking or writing ministry? Are they related? Which came first for you? I have gone back and forth between writing and speaking. For me they are very interrelated. Writing came first for me (see next question).

All of my messages are birthed from my journals where I write about my everyday life lessons and deep truths God is teaching me. Sometimes that is as far as my writing goes. But I keep writing for an audience of One, and eventually He uses what I’ve written in my journals to develop the messages He is calling me to speak on.

In late 2003 some doors were opening for me to write a parenting book with Focus on the Family based on my Mining for Gold in the heart of your Child character chart and parenting series. But in early 2004, I felt God calling me to lay down any plans of writing a book so I could be fully available for my family, for speaking and for my leadership role in at P31. It’s been four years and boy has He filled my speaking schedule, my family calendar and my plate at P31.

During this season, I have had little time to write devotions which has been hard, but God had assignments for me to help others build their ministries. He was also preparing me behind the scenes by leading me to help write radio shows for Lysa in 2006. Two years into my writing pause, He called me to oversee, write and record radio with Lysa. It has been great training because you have to be very focused and succinct in writing radio shows. The hard part is that it limits me because I can say very little in one minute, and I can’t go deep, which is my passion. But it’s been an incredible blessing and once again, preparation.

Just last summer I sensed God calling me to start writing again so I started this blog, began writing devotions and now I’m praying and waiting to see what He has planned for a book.

I want you to know that I have struggled with intense doubt as a writer. I have a very critical internal editor, me. The enemy also used to beat me up with negative thoughts when I tried to write. Now that God has called me to start again, that is not nearly as intense. In fact it’s the opposite now. Writing for me is no longer about whether I have something valuable to say, it’s about expressing the heart of God in me and the hand of God in my life. If one person benefits, I am blessed. But if not, I am still blessed because when I write I feel God’s pleasure! I am worshiping Him with my Words.

How did you get started?
My speaking ministry was birthed from my writing. It actually all started with a thank you note to a leader in our women’s ministry who loved what I wrote in the note. (I’ll post that story Monday). In 1999, after the thank you note, my women’s ministry leader asked me to write a study guide to give to 1000 women after a dinner series my church was doing. The topics were chosen by the speaker (my pastor’s wife) and her outlines were given to me to structure it. But I was encouraged to share my own journey woven in with her message. Women loved it because they had something to take home that would help them apply the messages.

The next year my women’s ministry leader asked me to teach a series on Weds nights for women who wanted to go through the study guide together. I thought 10 women might show up. We had over 30 the first night! Eventually I wrote more study guides and taught more classes. I was asked to start a ministry and we ended up with session reaching attendance of over 100 women. That is where my speaking ministry started – in my church..

Well, I better stop writing and get to work on messages for my speaking events in the coming weeks. I will write more when I finish the assignments He has for me this weekend. I will definitely share how I have learned to discern when it’s me or God. I want to pray about that one so I can put it into words. It’s a growing process for sure!

Thanks for joining me. I hope you’ll come back Monday for my story about the thank you note that launched my speaking ministry, and Tuesday to hear how God took my speaking beyond the walls of my church. Thanks for joining me!

Please click here to find a list of other blogs with more questions and answers from different perspectives of women just like you.

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for taking time to answer questions. I was wondering about the number of attendees. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the full experience of attending. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks Renee. I eagerly await direction for where God wants me to be and do.

  3. Wow Renee – thank for sharing so much of your journey. What an incredible encouragement it is for me to read all the ways God has led you. My writing has been birthed from writing notes and letters and journalling, so I see such a parallel in the truths you’ve shared. I will continue to write for my audience of One and trust Him to guide and direct. My heart beats with yours when you wrote, “Writing for me is no longer about whether I have something valuable to say, it’s about expressing the heart of God in me and the hand of God in my life”. I love that and am discovering that myself.

    I can’t wait to read your Monday and Tuesday posts….anticipation is making me wait…
    Thanks for answering so many questions.
    Learning to open my heart,
    Joy
    PS. Praying for you as you’re preparing for future speaking events.

  4. Thanks Renee for answering my question! I’m still praying about the conference, I am now convinced that if I am able to attend I will be staying there as well. It’s truly in His hands right now, if He wants me there He will provide. I loved reading how you got started! I can’t wait to hear more! You know I had always thought I would one day write fiction, but God has taught me so much through personal experiences and I have seen His hand in using those to help others. I have been sooo blessed in your sharing your journey and God’s hand in the midst, I had been so dry for so long(and didn’t even realize it)and God has used you and other precious P31 women to pour into my heart and awaken my passion for Him and for what He has called me to do. I thank God for you! God bless! April

  5. Thanks Renee! I appreciate your input.

    I never did hear back about NIU, so perhaps God is protecting my heart. But I will still be praying for them. Can’t imagine . . . .

    I finished my Princess or Stray series. 🙂 I’d never done a series of posts related to each other. That was fun to do today. And then I’ve been reading all the answers to the questions left on Lysa’s site. Good stuff.

    Take care.

  6. It is really neat to read on how you got started. Thank you for sharing, can’t wait to read more.
    I feel God has called me to speak about the hurt of the secert sin of abortion. It is hard at times to be still and wait upon the Lord to open the doors. Again thank you for your willing to share.

    Tammy

  7. Thank you for answering these questions. Your blog site is beautiful!
    In His Graces~Pamela

  8. Thanks for the answers to those questions. God bless you.

  9. Thank you for sharing and for taking time out of your weekend to do so. Very good food for thought.

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