If I were shipwrecked on a deserted island, I’d want to be shipwrecked with Jennie Allen — because sister knows Jesus, knows His Word, knows how to pray & her & I have been flat on our faces before Him, asking Him to show His way for this generation. I’ve slept in her spare bedroom and laughed late with her kids and ate around her table and Jennie is nothing if she’s not a pitcher poured right out for her husband, her children, her Jesus and her sisters down the streets and across the aisle and around the globe. & believes God uses them to heal souls & to reveal Himself to people. Jennie is the founder of IF:Gathering, has a Master’s in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary & I love this woman something fierce & it’s a ridiculous privilege to have Jennie Allen come to the farm’s front porch today:
If you had told me a few years ago that God puts big dreams in the hearts of women, I would have told you that you were right.
But if you’d told me the size of the dream God would put in me?
I would have told you that you shouldn’t talk so crazy and so loudly because I was sitting in the back of the room, trying not to be noticed.
There’s something scary and wild about trusting God with our dreams.
I spent a lot of my life blending in and making very little noise.
These days, with a house full of four catalytic children, an adventurous husband, and this fun little thing called IF:Gathering, we have a whole lot of noise.
And sometimes, I look back at that quieter life before and I think about what has changed.
The prayer that I would do anything for God was certainly a start.
But now, seven years and 145 countries later, IF:Gathering is in full swing, going from dream to reality as we gather, equip and unleash women to live out the dreams God has put in their hearts. We have this little office of 12 or so dreamers and go-getters and it’s so easy to catch a new rhythm and forget that less than a decade ago, I never would have dreamed this big.
I remember having tiny kids at home and going to seminary. I wanted to make sure that I knew God well and that when I did ministry alongside my husband, who was studying to be a pastor, I was giving them the truth about who God is.
I didn’t know what it’d look like.
I didn’t have big dreams.
But as I sat in classes and opened the Word and saw it come to life under incredible professors, I would weep. Because knowing God in this deep way was changing me and making me ache for women who didn’t know Him.
And I knew that if I could leave the legacy of a few people loving God and because of them a few more people loving God, that would be a great way to spend a life.
Learning such moving truths about God, our purposes, and this world made me long to give it all away in simple, creative ways that every person could receive.
Years later, when I was teaching my Chase Bible study before it was even published, with just a few girls in my living room, there was one girl who came and her name was Jenn. She was so wide-eyed, fresh in her faith and eager to learn anything about Jesus.
So I stood there with a whiteboard and a marker in my living room teaching her about the basics of Christianity and she ate it up—hungry for this Jesus she newly loved.
That moment stands out in my mind as one of the most important things I could have ever done.
Not because it was flashy.
Not because it was programmed.
But because this woman met Jesus in this space.
Sometimes, we look in the mirror and we see nothing spectacular.
We see a woman who dreams far beyond her reach.
Who bears scars of a difficult or complicated past. Who sits, week after week, month after month, year after year in church pews but craves more.
And we sense, deep in the dark corners of our hearts that we don’t have anything to bring to the table.
So, we try to blend in.
We look to the right and the left at what everyone else is doing and we just follow suit, setting our dreams aside. I get it. It’s easier that way.
But what would happen if we stopped and listened to the things that God says to us?
What if we paid attention to the dreams He whispers that leave us with a nervous feeling in the pit of our stomachs?
It’s hard to be brave and use our gifts.
It’s hard to take risks and fail.
As I travel around, I see the struggle in your eyes as you tell me you can’t step out from where you are into telling the story of God.
I hear you say you feel inadequate. And you ache to matter but can’t seem to move.
You feel the cost.Sometimes, handing things over to God feels more like loss than worship.
It is a loss–a loss of control.
But with every little bit that we loosen our white-knuckle grip on control, God moves. He isn’t waiting for us to let go and trust so that He can cause needless chaos. He is kind.
He says to us, You know what? I have dreams for you and they are good, but they likely are not what you’ve envisioned.
Years ago? When I was sitting in the back row? The groundwork for IF:Gathering was actually being laid, but not in ways you would suspect. It was being laid through the people who discipled me – the people who caused me to love and know God in deep ways. The groundwork was being laid sitting in seminary classes, with barely an inkling of what teaching the Bible would become in my life today.
What no one sees about my life is that I am simply a product of years and years and countless hours of people depositing God in my life–eye to eye, in living rooms and classrooms and over coffee.
I was in the back row–yes. But I was also in a season of preparation that I didn’t even realize was happening for a time I couldn’t even fathom.
God wants us to start living in that place where calling meets action.
I hesitated before I started that living room Bible study. Only a few months ago, Jenn was killed in a boating accident. I hadn’t seen her for years. In fact, the last time I saw her, I had a marker in my hand, teaching her about how to study her Bible.
And now, years later, standing on stages? You cannot convince me that there was any greater work in the world than standing in that living room that day, eye to eye with a woman freshly discovering her love for Jesus.
I am so glad I didn’t let my hesitations stop me from teaching that Bible study and spending those hours with Jenn.
If you told me all those years ago, that IF:Gathering would be what it is today, I would have never believed you.
This community of women astounds me daily. And the best part? Each one of us is bringing something different and absolutely vital. We sit around this virtual table, and give Him away in our own ways.
For years, I had the tools to teach women like Jenn the Bible, but I wasn’t using them.
And now that I’ve caught a glimpse of what happens when He takes a hold of our lives and our dreams, I don’t want to miss a minute.
Today, the IF:Gathering app is becoming a reality, and it is the culmination of this dream.
Not only are we equipping women in deeper ways, but now everyone can bring their voice, gifts, creativity and display God too, through a myriad of ways: photographs, video, blogs, hand lettering, book recommendations, voice memos or podcasts.
A friend recently said, “It will be a tsunami of creative worship!” We can’t wait.
Disciple a Generation was the dream I felt in my bones so many years ago in the back row and the means of making disciples has not changed.
It is women in their places with their people – giving away what they have been given. We just wanted to build a tool that communicates about God in the language of this generation.
In a world of Facebook reactions and Instagram likes, we can put our energy and creativity into something that inspires and ultimately draws the attention away from us and to the beauty of our Creator.
We get to have a conversation every morning that pulls us from our different contexts and giftings and lets us proclaim who He is. God moves in living rooms with white boards, and He moves in a million other ways, as well.
The hope is that the app will be a place to see that take shape as we build a community around proclaiming truths about Him.
I can’t wait to see how He uses this app to refocus us to His purposes and how He will continue to put dreams in our hearts so that we can tell those stories as they echo through eternity.
IF:Gathering is three years in and I believe we are just getting started. We are starting to become the things we have dreamed about from the beginning.
On one hand, I don’t want to make too big of a deal about launching an app – it’s just a tool.
But on the other, I do not want to minimize the potential power of this tool, if harnessed by a generation of women across the globe, who are unified on a mission to make disciples who make disciples.
Now, it’s your turn.
Your turn to receive and your turn to give.
To tell the stories of the ways that God is moving and to gather together to learn about who He is.
It will take on thousands of forms but trust me – you have no idea what you are missing.
Don’t miss it.
Head over to ifgatheringapp.com to join us.
Join the conversation about God with thousands of women around the world. Bring your gifts, your creativity, and your unique voice to the table. We hope that this safe, deep space allows this generation of women to collectively create a powerful expression to God, for God, and about God. Your comment, your picture, your video, and your voice could possibly be a part of what draws someone to Jesus.
With the launch of the IF:Gathering app, our first study will be called I Believe, A Study of the Nicene Creed. Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? The Nicene Creed will guide us in understanding the beliefs of Christianity. For example, what does it mean that God is the Maker of Earth and All that is Seen? And IF this is true, then how does it apply to our lives? These truths are the foundations of our faith, and thinking about them is worth our time.
We want to put tools in your hands that makes disciples who make disciples. Right now, we have a problem in this generation. Many have passionately come to Jesus but few have been equipped. We want to take the next step in creating deeper content that will be used for holistic discipleship of women in this generation.