This interview with Whitney Capps was originally published in the March 2019 issue of HomeLife. Want to read more from Whitney? Check out her 9-session Bible study, We Over Me. If you’d like to see Whitney in person this year, you can see her live at LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum and LifeWay Women Live.
On a recent Saturday night, Whitney Capps finished her speaking engagement, stayed up several more hours, and arrived at the airport at 3 a.m. to fly home to Atlanta. Why? For Whitney, there’s no place quite like church on a Sunday morning with her husband and kids.
“For Chad and me, the church matters because Jesus says it matters, because Jesus died for the church. So, in practical ways, we want our boys to see ministry not as this grand thing that their mom or dad does, but really the everyday stuff of life,” Whitney says. “So we try not to make it a big deal when I travel. They just know I’m telling ladies about Jesus.”
To be clear, this 40-year-old, spunky truth-teller isn’t looking for applause. And although she’s committed to the church, she’ll be the first one to agree that it can be oh-so-hard.
“I tell people all the time in some ways she [the church] has been very much like a bridezilla, and, yet, she’s the bride, and we’re called to love her as the bride,” Whitney says with her Georgia accent coming through.
Her message is a mix of fierce devotion to the things of God and grace for the imperfections of His people. In the same breath, she talks about her affection for her tiny church of 115 people, online shopping, naps, and her kids’ football games.
“There’s the real, human side of life with four boys,” she reveals.
It’s this authenticity that resonates with so many women across the country. Whitney makes a point to stay vulnerable on stage and connect with others as fellow sojourners.
“I want people to walk away and be absolutely convinced that I’m shockingly average, and, yet, this is what the Holy Spirit does with shockingly average people.”
We, Not Me
The newest step in Whitney’s thriving ministry comes this month, as she releases her first Bible study, We Over Me. The 9-week study with video teachings is based on the letters to the churches in Revelation and focuses on the importance of biblical community and seeing the church as Christ’s plan for sharing the gospel.
Her study mirrors the Scriptures as a call to commitment — not just to church buildings, but to the body of Christ — for better or worse.
“It’s choosing ‘we’ over ‘me.’ It’s saying, ‘This isn’t just about me and what I get out of it,’” she shares. “Not only is it countercultural secularly, but it’s countercultural even within the church.”
Her message does stand out in an age where many believers are leaving congregations and growing more disconnected through technology. We Over Me offers a merciful wake-up call to remind us of the relevance of the church and its mission in the world. In Revelation, we find such a wake-up call given to seven churches.
“The beauty of the letters in Revelation is a kind of diagnosis that is corporate, but the prescription is individual,” she explains. “A church can only be successful as its individual members are sanctified.”
Whitney hopes that as groups of women walk through the study together, the letters in Revelation will awaken them to the truth of God’s desire for the body of Christ and their invaluable part in helping the church fulfill her calling.
She playfully likens our role to that of taking care of a bride on her wedding day.
“I remember my bridesmaids — one of them was reapplying my lipstick, one was fluffing my veil, and one was trying to make sure I ate. None of them were tearing at my dress or pointing out that they wouldn’t have picked my veil. We forget that the church is Jesus’ bride, and He loves her deeply,” she says. “We don’t make her righteous; Jesus did that. But, is her veil straight? Is her dress wrinkled?”
She laughs at the imagery, but her point is resolute. It’s our privilege and joy to relearn to cherish the church.
Him, Not Me
Whitney effuses a passion for God’s people and His Word that began as a child, growing up in a household of pastors and seminarians.
“I remember dinner table conversations about theology, Calvinism, Arminianism, and just these things that from a very early age were very interesting to me. They never felt dry; they never felt boring,” she recalls.
In college, she began teaching young girls at her church. Then at Lysa TerKeurst’s invitation, she joined the Proverbs 31 team. God fanned the flame, and she got involved with Bible Study Fellowship, soon becoming a leader. She felt intimidated at first because she didn’t have a dramatic testimony to share with other women.
“I remember saying to God, ‘If You never give me a story, I promise I will only tell Your story,’” she declares. “All I knew was to teach the Bible, but it became this thing that I loved.”
She soon found a close-knit group of mentors and cheerleaders among the speakers at Proverbs 31 Ministries.
“It’s been sweet to be a part of a group of women where it’s genuinely for the name and fame of Jesus, and there’s just no need for competition.” Whitney comes alive sharing the truth of the gospel all over the country and helping women connect their passion with their purpose for the glory of God.
“You don’t have to be a scholar to understand the deep things of God. It really is accessible for every single person, whether you have degrees behind your name or you’re a regular gal from small-town Georgia. That’s my hope — that I inspire other women.”
Her favorite moments are when women come up to her following her speaking events and repeat a phrase she said, telling her that it changed her life. Nine times out of 10, Whitney says she doesn’t think the phrase is something that actually came out of her mouth, but she’s grateful for these humble reminders that God is in control.
“I love those moments when I’m like, ‘Lord, You really do this in spite of me,’” she says. “People ask me if I get nervous when I speak, and I really don’t because I’m just peripheral to what He’s doing. I hope He uses me, but I’m for sure not essential. He’s faithful to His Word.
Them, Not Me
Another way Whitney continually witnesses God’s faithfulness is through the accountability of her local community of believers. They’ve gone through difficult times together, but perseverance has paid off.
She emphasizes our need for others to lovingly show us things we’re missing. Whitney tells her kids it’s like the commercials where one person becomes immune to a bad smell, but everyone else is aware of it.
“You can go nose-blind, but your friends can smell it,” she laughs. “That’s just the beauty of community.”
We Over Me encourages women to push through their desire for acceptance and lean into this need for godly community and accountability in their churches.
“I would hope that some people would say, ‘You know what, I’m going to stick it out,’” she says. “Sometimes people will hurt my feelings, but the beauty of the gospel is that we can fix that. We can have hard conversations. We can go through hard seasons of not growing, struggling in our programming, feeling like people aren’t getting it, or maybe our leaders are really failing. But you know what, God is here.”
She Is You
Her lifelong “love-dislike” relationship with the church lends weight to her message. She’s honest about the reality of trying to serve God alongside messy human beings—both the beauty and the pain—and how it’s always worth it.
“No way am I unaware of all the church’s flaws. The church in America, almost every congregation, is messed up,” she confesses. “But we do have the power to overlook that and say, ‘But this is why she’s still the hope of the gospel. This is why God intends to sustain her, and I want to be a part of that.’”
Why would people want to be a part? They don’t have to, Whitney acknowledges, but back when she was digging into Revelation to prepare for the study, she says a powerful image came to mind that has stuck with her.
In the image, she was standing outside a burning building. Some people were hanging out the windows asking for help, and others were asleep in their beds, unaware of the fire. Whitney says she was on the ground thanking God that her people were out safe.
“That, to me, was the crowning imagery of Revelation. In the church, a lot of us feel like the culture is lost, and we’re just glad we got out, and we’re huddled up on the side,” she explains. “And the call of Revelation is for us to rush back into the burning building.”
God’s people are the ambassadors who can show others the way out, Whitney shares.
“I feel like a lot of the church is standing on the sidelines watching it burn, and it’s convicting to me. I feel a real sense of urgency and passion to say we’ve got to go back in. We’ve got to go back in.”
Courtney Keen specializes in nonprofit communications, with a soft spot for underdogs, ordinaries, and the overlooked. She has reported on international humanitarian efforts in places like Myanmar, Vanuatu, and most notably, Nepal. Her work stateside includes organizations in New York, North Carolina, and Nashville — her beloved hometown. Explore her writing at courtneykeen.com.