By Rachel Sinclair
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. — “As we pursue Christ together, we will conquer the trials and difficulties that come our way,” said Ruth Chou Simons, one of the speakers at the first in-person Lifeway Women Live event since 2019 on Saturday, April 17.
Nearly 20,000 participants across 49 states and nine countries livestreamed the event. At the spacious Long Hollow Baptist Church, located just outside of Nashville, Tenn., 375 women gathered in person.
After music from Austin Stone Worship and a warm welcome from author and emcee Angie Smith, Bible teacher Kristi McLelland took the stage.
McLelland, who has been guiding biblical study trips to Israel for 14 years, spoke about Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda, painting a realistic picture of the story’s setting and cultural context. She emphasized Jesus’ question, “Do you want to get well?” and asked the audience to consider the same, inviting women to approach the day from a place of humility, expectation, and desire to change.
Next, artist, entrepreneur and author Ruth Chou Simons spoke from Colossians about how being filled with the Word is foundational for encouraging other believers and pursuing unity.
“The number one thing the world needs to see is believers who are in love with Jesus,” said Simons. “Believers who have done the work in their private lives, behind closed doors, off of social media […] where they turn to the Word of God and say, ‘Lord, I’m desperate for you.’”
Simons said that harmony in the church, in the world, and in individual hearts begins with an all-consuming desire for God’s presence and His Word.
Following Simons, author and teacher Kelly Minter shared a countercultural call to submit to Jesus, His plans, and His ways, even when it is difficult to understand.
“We want to create what we want to create, then we’ll add Jesus into it. But that’s not how this works,” she said. “He is the King of Kings and Lords of Lords. When we find Him in His narrative and follow Him in His story, according to His will and on His terms, that is when we find the abundant life.”
Rounding out the morning’s speakers was the GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning vocal group, Point of Grace. The trio performed several of their classic hits, including “Circle of Friends,” “How You Live (Turn Up the Music),” and “Keep the Candle Burning.”
In addition, the women shared personal stories of brokenness, including stories of anxiety, fighting perfectionism, and repentance from sexual sin. They reminded the audience that no one is too far from God’s grace, and they can find strength in following Him by relying on fellow sisters in Christ.
After a recess for lunch, author and Bible teacher Lisa Harper brought a compelling message that denounced the world’s glamorization of self-sufficiency and called for women to come together in pursuit of God’s purpose.
Harper said she was “tired of fake,” challenging women to be honest with themselves about the status of their walk with the Lord. “Do you have peace with God? Do you have a passionate, vibrant, in-love relationship with Jesus?”
She prompted women to examine their life’s purpose and their commitment to sharing the gospel, especially with the next generation of women. “We are called to be ambassadors of the covenant […] to share the hope that lies within us, who is Jesus.”
Her session concluded with a powerful time of prayer for women who needed peace with God, who felt called to step forward in obedience, and who wanted to accept salvation.
Author and podcast host Jamie Ivey was originally scheduled to speak. However, Ivey shared via video that she was recovering from COVID-19, and while improving in health, could not attend the conference. She shared a brief message from John 13 and Jesus’ command to love one another.
Stepping in for Ivey was Nancy Guthrie, the author of multiple books including her most recent, “Even Better Than Eden.” Guthrie discussed different marriages in the Bible and how they ultimately point to the true and perfect marriage between Jesus and His church, the bride of Christ.
The day concluded with teaching from Jackie Hill Perry, an author, poet, and hip-hop artist. Perry spoke on James 3, focusing on the power of words and the serious responsibility of Christian teachers.
“The way we talk about people says a lot about what we believe about God,” she said. “Perhaps we have forgotten that our speech toward Him and each other are both forms of worship. That it is inconsistent to sing, ‘I love you Lord’ and to say, ‘I hate my neighbor.’”
She later summarized, “The issue then is not only controlling our tongue but dealing with our hearts.”
Perry called for the church to confess and repent for using words to tear down instead of building up—particularly in the midst of a culturally divisive season. She noted that “there has been beautiful, God-honoring speech, [but] there has been even more destructive language.”
Perry acknowledged that in the same way words can hurt, they can also bring healing. She concluded with a serious and encouraging challenge, “Your words have the power of death, but they also have the power of life. Use them wisely.”
Rachel Sinclair is a freelance writer based in Franklin, Tennessee.
About Lifeway Christian Resources
In operation since 1891, Lifeway Christian Resources is one of the leading providers of Christian resources, including Bibles, books, Bible studies, Christian music and movies, VBS, and church supplies, as well as camps and events for all ages. Lifeway is the world’s largest provider of Spanish Bibles. Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Lifeway receives no denominational funding and operates as a self-supporting nonprofit.