Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Women of Faith 2011

Women of Faith 2011: Over the Top
Rating: 3.5 stars

The time has come and gone, and the Women of Faith conference I attended over the weekend in Spokane is over. I would like to graciously thank Booksneeze and Women of Faith for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and share my experience!

Now...let's get down to business.

The conference ran all day Friday and all day Saturday, with a rather large break on Friday for dinner and whatnot. This year's theme for Spokane was Over the Top and we were graced with the presence of some incredible ladies (and one incredible guy) including Patsy Clairmont, Lisa Whelchel, Marilyn Meberg, Brenda Warner, Mandisa, Andy Andrews, Deborah Joy Winans, Sandy Patti, and Amy Grant. 

The worship team was also phenomenal and really rocked the house; they had people up on their feet, singing along, and people were definitely participating! We were treated to mini-concerts by Mandisa on Friday night and Amy Grant on Saturday, and both were incredibly enthusiastic about the mission of Women of Faith and seemed happy to be a part of it. Deborah Joy did several skits over the weekend that all had a message and pertained to difficulties women and mommies might have; overall I really enjoyed her skits, particularly the last skit which was about an "invisible woman", and no matter how much people do NOT seem to notice us and the things we do, God is always watching and our work is important to Him. 

Wanting to give a full review, I chose to purchase some Women of Faith merchandise. I was disappointed at the prices, as they seemed *extremely* high. However, they did redeem themselves (to a degree) with the packages that were available. These packages were a phenomenal deal, and with the purchase of $100, you got $15 off your total purchase. This worked conveniently well with the $85 package of 2 books, your choice of bag, a gift, and 2 CD's. I chose to purchase an additional $15 book which brought my total to $100, making the book essentially free. I found this to be an incredible value, especially given the prices of individual items! The ONE issue I had with the packages was the limited selection of books available in the packages. Sure, you could purchase a two-pack of other Women of Faith devotionals and whatnot for around $25, but the package I mentioned above only had the option of selecting books from the speakers at the event. I was disappointed; I wanted some other Women of Faith selections! This is my first WOF conference, so I imagine this is typical, but I wish they would give more options for book selection in their packages.

Most of the messages seemed to center around personal experiences in the speakers' lives, and they also surrounded the ideals of community, support, and prayer. 

Here's my issue with the conference...I suppose maybe I was expecting too much, but there were very few moments where I felt God was speaking or that the conference was even God-led. I may be more of a traditionalist and not such a "contemporary" Christian, but as much fun as some of the stories may have been, I found myself wondering "Okay, let's get to the GOD part". This left me disappointed in the entire conference. Yes, the worship team sang songs about God and His love and glory, but I felt that the entire conference was lacking in the God department. There were very few mentions of Scripture, and that really bothered me. There was maybe two or three prayers that were said. Very frustrating for a girl who went to learn about God and how he has worked in the lives of others. As long as I'm being completely honest...I was not the only one who was bothered by the 40-ish minute presentation on World Vision. I (and several others around me) found the World Vision advertisement on Friday night to be a little...awkward. It seemed a little bit like a late-night infomercial, and I would have rather they done a quick introduction to what it is, and then had us refer to our bags or the booths for more information rather than show videos and advertisements for it on Friday AND Saturday. I understand that every conference has to pay homage to their sponsors (here I am ASSUMING that World Vision is a sponsor...), but this was just irritating. I do have to give credit to World Vision and their volunteers at the event, though. For just $35 per month you can sponsor a child, and $.85 of every dollar goes to the child...this is a relatively high amount compared to some other charities that only use sometimes as low as $.07 per dollar to the actual cause! 

Although my "negative" experiences with the conference were relatively few and far between and I generally enjoyed myself, they were a large factor in my rating of only 3.5 out of 5 stars for the conference. I really enjoyed the worship team, the music, and hearing Mandisa and Amy Grant sing, and I really did love hearing all of the fun stories from the contributors, I wish it felt a little more God-centered. I could see the messages in their stories, but I just wish it was better conveyed to the audience...at times I felt the message got lost in the story. 

Would I attend another Women of Faith conference if I had the chance? Absolutely! I would love to compare experiences and I'd like to plan to attend their "Celebrate" themed conference in Spokane August 17-18, 2012.