Sparrow Conference 2017 is quickly approaching and we are so excited to hear from the women who will be teaching and encouraging us from the Book of James all weekend long! Jen Wilkin graciously answered a few questions as we prepare to gather, learn, and ask the Lord to move through our time next weekend.
Please tell us about yourself!
I'm an author and Bible teacher, and I've led studies in home, church, and parachurch contexts over the past 20 years. I work at The Village Church, overseeing adult classes for men and women at our five campuses. I'm a wife and mom, married to Jeff for 24 years, with four kids between the ages of 21 and 17. I have two pugs, and I like cooking and gardening (so, basically, I live my life on the edge).
How did you become passionate about studying God’s word and teaching it to others?
I grew up in church, or more accurately, in churches - by the time I went to college I had spent time in seven different denominations and sat under all kinds of teaching. I began to realize that first-hand knowledge of the Bible was essential to being able to discern between truth and error. I taught my first Bible study in college to whoever would come. Shortly after my first child was born, I started participating in the studies at my church. Over time, my awareness grew of how deeply illiterate most of us are of our sacred text. That's not our fault, it's just a symptom of other things taking greater precedence in the life of the church over the past several decades. But with the sands of culture shifting around us, the need for us to know the Bible is greater than ever. I'm seeing a greater awareness of that need, and I'm so excited for what is ahead.
What concerns you and what makes you hopeful about this generation of young women?
It concerns me that so many young women ask little more of their faith than that it give them an experience. We have this generation of bright, capable women who bring their sharp minds into every room they enter, except for the church. For some reason, they have absorbed the message that faith is about "all the feels". We need a feeling faith. We should feel deeply for God, but those feelings cannot grow and be trained without knowing the scriptures. I'm praying young women will bring their minds to church, so that their feelings will be regulated by the fact of who God reveals himself to be.
But when I consider this generation, my overwhelming sense is one of hope. I find that, once these bright young women combine their love of social justice, deep community, authenticity, and sacrificial living with a love of God's Word, they're an unstoppable force for the Kingdom. They don't care about a lot of the trappings of being a "good Christian" that weighed down my contemporaries. They travel light, and they are not afraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to serving in the name of Christ.
What advice do you have for young women who desire to honor the Lord with their lives?
Love God by loving God's Word. And when I say love it, I mean make it your business to know it. The heart cannot love what the mind does not know. Resist the urge to seek a "fresh word from the Lord" - we have 66 precious books of timeless truth that we will never exhaust in this lifetime. Spend your life worshiping the God the Bible reveals.
What is your hope for women at Sparrow Conference this year?
I hope it will be a time for all of us to set aside the distraction of the everyday and enjoy time shared with other believing women. Knowing that we're spending time sitting at the feet of James, my hope for each woman is that she would understand the beauty of faith manifesting itself in works, that the natural response of saving faith is joyful obedience to the God of our salvation.