Thinking Out Loud

November 14, 2013

Christian Conferences: It’s a Man’s World

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:17 am

Rachel Held Evans 2Women of Faith events excepted, for the most part, if you attend a Christian conference, you’re going to find, on average 81% male speakers and 19% female speakers. But the 4% at a recent conference, was too much for Rachel Held Evans, who touched off debate on Twitter even as The Nines was in full swing.  You can read an overview of that here.

Yesterday, Jonathan Merritt, senior columnist for Religion News Service put the whole thing in perspective by running a lot of hard numbers. (It’s him we thank for the 81/19 ratio.) I won’t re-blog his entire list; but I will list a few of the conferences I am more familiar with.  Again this is a partial list; you can read all his data by clicking here.

Catalyst Conference – East (Atlanta, GA): Total speakers: 13 / Female speakers: 3

Cross Conference (Louisville, KY): Total speakers: 10 / Female speakers: 0

Desiring God Conference (Minneapolis, MN): Total speakers: 10 / Female speakers: 0Exponential Conference (Los Angeles, CA): Total speakers: 27 / Female speakers: 3

Global Leadership Summit (Chicago, IL): Total speakers: 13 / Female speakers: 2

Hillsong Conference (Los Angeles, CA): Total speakers: 6 / Female speakers: 2

Kidmin Children’s Ministry Conference (Chicago, IL): Total speakers: 7 / Female speakers: 3

Ligonier National Conference (Orlando, FL): Total speakers: 9 / Female speakers: 0

Love Does (Austin, TX): Total speakers: 11 / Female speakers: 3

Mosaix National Multi-Ethnic Church Conference (Nashville, TN): Total speakers: 50 / Female speakers: 6

National Worship Leaders Conference (Can Juan Capistrano, CA): Total speakers: 9 / Female speakers: 2

National Youth Workers Convention (San Diego, CA): Total speakers: 80 / Female speakers: 20

Orange Conference (Atlanta, GA): Total speakers: 10 / Female speakers: 2

Q (Los Angeles, CA): Total speakers: 35 / Female speakers: 13

Resurgence Conference (Seattle, WA): Total speakers: 6 / Female speakers: 0

Simply Youth Ministry Conference (Columbus, OH): Total speakers: 71 / Female speakers: 11

Story Conference (Chicago, IL): Total speakers: 18 / Female speakers: 5

Together For the Gospel Conference (Louisville, KY): Total speakers: 19 / Female speakers: 0

The Nines (Online): Total speakers: 110 / Female speakers: 4 (this is the conference that started the current discussion)

Thrive Conference (Granite Bay, CA): Total speakers: 6 / Female speakers: 0

Velocity (Cumming, GA): Total speakers: 32 / Female speakers: 3

Wild Goose Festival (Hot Springs, NC): Total speakers: 74 / Female speakers: 44

TOTAL
Total speakers: 805 / 
Female speakers: 159

This is not the complete list, and if you go to read this at source, each conference name is a link taking you to their webpage. Some of the conferences that have “0” women speakers are of the Reformed/Calvinist stripe. That lack of female participation may be the writing on the wall for that movement, at least in this writer’s humble opinion.

I can’t help but remember the story of Anne Graham Lotz:

Early in her ministry career, Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, was snubbed when a group of male pastors turned their chairs around to indicate their objection to being addressed by a female preacher.

She writes about this herself in a Washington Post Story

When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman? While all agree that women are free to help in the kitchen, or in the nursery, or in a secretary’s chair, is it unacceptable for a woman to take a leadership or teaching position?

Is it any wonder her current (and bestselling) book is titled, Wounded By God’s People ?

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3 Comments »

  1. I can think of a couple reasons for the disparity. Simply put, there are not that many exceptional women speakers or women willing to speak. The ones who do, are exceptional.

    Comment by ralph juthman — November 14, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    • That’s not a reason. That’s a couple of questions that need to be seriously addressed. 1) WHY are there not more women willing to speak? 2) WHAT keeps women from becoming “exceptional”– at least in the eyes of Christian conference attendees?

      Comment by Kristen Rosser — November 15, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

      • Hi Kristen. I just read your most recent blog post, your review of Sarah Bessey’s book, and you’ve obviously thought long and hard about this issue. I think that (a) there is usually a man, or men in charge of most conferences, and (b) many men have had past negative experiences with women speakers that they’ve carried forward into the present.

        Many women — my wife is an example — have had so many years (or decades) of being excluded from opportunities that are given to men (like me) that they’ve simply given up trying.

        There are many women who I’ve gotten to know through their blogs that I would gladly pay to hear. I hope that the raising of this issue gets conference organizers looking at their male-to-female ratios.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — November 15, 2013 @ 11:15 pm


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