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Taylor Turkington: We have this conviction that God has gifted his whole church. He’s gifted men, and he’s gifted women, and those gifts need to be rooted in the Word of God. They need to use the Scriptures to inform their gifts, whatever their gifts are. It seems like God is doing something equipping women in this age right now, right? It’s not just us. We’re just like a slice of this pie. But God is doing something through multiple people. Through your training, Nancy, through other trainings we see with Simeon Trust, and it’s beautiful to get to be a piece of what he’s doing.
Nancy Guthrie: Welcome to “Help Me Teach the Bible.” I’m Nancy Guthrie. “Help Me Teach the Bible” is a production of The Gospel Coalition sponsored by Crossway, a not-for-profit publisher of the ESV Bible, Christian books, and tracks. Learn more at crossway.org. I have two guests with me today. Not very often I’ve talked to two guests. And they are two of my favorite people. Two of my favorite compadres in this life of seeking to always be getting better at teaching the Bible. My friend Taylor Turkington. Taylor, glad to have you.
Turkington: Great to be here, Nancy.
Guthrie: Taylor serves as the director of the Women’s Training Network for the Gospel Coalition. She’s got an M.A. and a D.Min. from Western Seminary in Portland. And then also my friend Courtney Doctor. Courtney, love having you here to talk to you today.
Courtney Doctor: Love any chance to be with you, Nancy.
Guthrie: Courtney has an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary, and she’s serving as coordinator of the Women’s Training and Content at the Gospel Coalition. Both of these women teach the Bible themselves and play a big role in helping to train other women teach the Bible. And so, I’d like to start by just hearing from each of you a little bit about how that came about in your life. How did you a love for the Bible and then a desire to become equipped to teach other people the Bible become a big part of your life? I’ll start with you, Taylor.
Turkington: You know, Nancy, I think I saw a love of the Bible modeled in my life by teachers around me, even high school teachers who loved being in the Bible and then some people on my campus when I went to college. And so, I just realized that the Bible was something that was incredible and I just remember voraciously reading it, but really not understanding a lot of it. “Why are we talking about this tent that seems to be important in the Old Testament? What is this building called the temple?” But I got that Jesus was central and I desperately needed him and to the point that… And I just knew that the Scriptures needed to be shared. So, I started sharing them over and over again, even though I probably didn’t really know what I was talking about often other than that Jesus was great. So, I began teaching the Bible in college because I was spending so much time studying and reading other books about it long before I probably should have been teaching in all honesty. But by God’s kindness, women began to pour into me and train me, many from campus ministry. And I joined Cru and started working for them overseas. And then it was really…after a few years of ministry, coming back to seminary.
And it was in seminary where some really kind professors taught me in their classes, but also poured into me as I came to know them and their offices and they invited me to know their families, and we talked about teaching. And that influenced a lot of how I began to teach and thinking about homiletics and thinking about what it looks like to structure our messages rooted in the Scriptures. And then being able to teach at a local church consistently for many years was a good gift. That led to conferences and training women and now being able to do this with Courtney and others.
Guthrie: Yeah. Okay. How about you Courtney?
Doctor: Well, I didn’t grow up with the Bible as something beautiful or wonderful. It was a rule book that was kind of kept on the shelf. It was a little bit of a mystery. And in my early 20s, when the Lord called me to himself, really, one of the first things that he did was give me a very insatiable hunger for the Word. I had so many questions, and I knew that I was able to go to the Word and find out. And so, I was reading, I was reading the Bible, I was reading about the Bible. And when I was 28, my pastor, it was actually an associate pastor at a church where we were, he asked me to teach. And he asked me to teach, it was a very large class, and I have no idea why he asked me to do that. But there’s something, as I’ve looked back, and I see women who can testify to pastors recognizing something in them, creating space for them, and then encouraging them in it, the very first time. So, he co-taught with me. That was sort of his way of helping me. And so, the very first class that we taught together, he said, “Courtney, just go ahead and prepare whatever you want. You teach as long as you want and then I’ll just pick up when you leave off.” He was obviously a very experienced teacher. So, I prepared and prepared and prepared, and I stood up, and it lasted about four minutes, and I sat down.
Guthrie: Seriously? You must be exaggerating.
Doctor: No, I’m not. And the look on his face was like, “Alrighty then. We’re gonna pick up, and I’m gonna finish this class.” But that just led to more teaching opportunities, and I don’t think…I didn’t have a philosophy of teaching or a theological understanding of what was happening in teaching. And the Lord actually called me to homeschool my kids for five years. And I think it’s there that I started developing a love of what communication is, what education is, how to communicate things in a way that they’re teachable, and understandable, and transferable. And so, it actually was really teaching second, third, fourth, fifth-grade children upstairs above my garage, I think that I started understanding a little bit more about teaching itself. And in 2010, the Lord allowed my husband and I to go to seminary together and…
Guthrie: Which is so cool.
Doctor: Which is so cool and so crazy. It was all of it, all at once. I mean, he carried my backpack, we had gone through undergrad together. And so, here we are two decades plus later going to seminary together, and we did all of our classes together. And so, it was wonderful, and crazy, and hard, and good, all at the same time.
Guthrie: Whenever I’ve gone and done a seminary class on campus, David always is like, “You think you’ll find somebody to carry your books?”
Doctor: I did. I just took him with me. Yeah.
Guthrie: He’ll say, “Do you think you’ll make any friends? Will there be anybody to sit with in the lunch room?” All right. So, you went to seminary together. And so, how has your own personal teaching ministry expanded from that?
Doctor: Well, I wanna be clear that you don’t need a seminary degree to teach the Word, right? We are formally and informally educated, and so that is not a necessary requirement. It was helpful for me. It helped shape some of my theological frameworks. Obviously biblical theology, which you and I love to talk about. All three of us do. And it gave me a paradigm. It gave me a framework and to submit myself to the wisdom and the expertise of my professors and then try ideas out through papers, and through tests, and through exams, and then get their feedback. You know, it tweaked some things in my understanding. So, I’m just grateful for that.
Guthrie: Yeah. All right. So, what is this thing, this Women’s Training Network? Why don’t you tell us what it is and then we’ll go back to telling… You can tell us why you think it’s even needed. So, tell us what it is.
Turkington: Yeah. Nancy, the Women’s Training Network is a new thing that we’re doing through The Gospel Coalition. We’re wanting to equip women to use the Scriptures well. That’s something TGC has been doing for a long time. But this time we’re doing regional events that are called “Two-Day Intensives.” And these events come to an area where we bring women together to be able to learn and some couple of keynote sessions, but really spend most of the time and those two days in workshops, where they’re spending time learning about Bible interpretation and then how to use the Bible to serve other people. And so, there’s multiple tracks that run simultaneously at different levels of Bible knowledge or experience. So, women at different experiences in ministry, as well as Bible literacy, can come and learn from where they’re at and grow to understand and use the Scriptures better.
Guthrie: So, who should come to these?
Turkington: Oh man. I would say you. All women, we would love to come. We have a track for women that we would say everyone could follow. Women who have not read their Bible very much or women who are helping other women who haven’t read the Bible very much learn to read the Bible. It’s just, we call it Bible interpretation. It’s a great track that we feel like anyone could fit into.
Guthrie: So, that’s not necessarily for someone who is teaching or preparing to teach, but just anyone who wants to get to know their Bible better.
Turkington: Yes. Exactly. And then we also have a track and we call it “Advanced Bible Topics,” that’s designed for women who are teaching the Bible, and it’s really going deep into a specific genre. So, if we’re doing prophets, we’re talking about, okay, like, “How do we understand the book of The Twelve and how it fits together?” And if you’re teaching this book, “What do you think about within context, literary context as well as historical context.” Or if we’re in the epistles for that track, we might be talking about, “How do these books use the Old Testament. What is the use of the Old and the New in this book?” So, we’re going deeper and really hoping to equip women to teach this genre well.
Guthrie: So, you’re doing them in various cities?
Turkington: We are.
Guthrie: At local churches, I assume?
Turkington: Yes. So, we can partner with a local church or a local seminary that brings us in, and they’re able to tell us more about that area and help us choose the right tracks to bring and then to help us… Just really want to serve the women well.
Guthrie: So, are these events… Are these a circle of 20 women, is it 100 women? Is it 1,000 women?
Doctor: So, for these particular events, which it’s not the only thing that WTN is doing, but these are sort of the hallmark of what we’re doing and they’re called “Two-Day Intensives.” And they tend to be between 350 and 500 women gathering for the plenary session. So, there are three key note addresses, and then each person who registers will sign up for a track, and that track will contain four workshops. And that sort of what Taylor was just talking about, that you choose your track. Do you want the “Story of Scripture” track, or do you want “Advanced Interpretation” track, or “Ministry Practicals” track? But those then we’ll break into their… And that’s a smaller group. That’s 75 to 125 women in the workshop. And that’s… You’ll go through those four workshops with the same 75 to 125 women. And so, you develop a relationship with those women, you do work at the table together, you start processing and talking and discussing together. So, there is a larger group setting, and then there are some smaller group settings.
Guthrie: Well, for you all to be pouring, as much as I know, you are pouring into creating the curriculum and promoting them and getting teachers trained for them, you must believe it’s because there’s a need. And so, I just wonder, what have you seen that’s made you decide that there’s a need for this?
Doctor: Well, it’s exciting, isn’t it? Because I know you see it too. First of all, none of us, nobody arrives in our ability to understand. I mean, that’s the beauty of the Word of God, right? We never mine the depths of the riches of his wisdom and knowledge. It is unsearchable. It is inscrutable, as Paul said, and it’s beautiful. And so, we all need to continue to be further equipped and to understand the beauty of the depth of the story of Scripture. And so, it’s a privilege to be able to participate in this and to fulfill Ephesians 4:11-12 that we get to be a part of equipping the saints for the work of ministry. So, the need is there, and the need will always be there for everybody throughout their entire life as they walk with the Lord. But some of the responses have been tremendous. People are hungry for it, they’re eager for it. The events are selling out so quickly because it’s evidence of the hunger for it. But some of the feedback that we’ve received from the event that we just finished doing that was just so encouraging to keep on keeping on. Several women said, “I feel so much stronger in studying and in helping others study the Bible and interpret.” And that’s, that’s what we want.
Guthrie: That’s the goal. Did you just hit…the bell rang? That’s what we were going for.
Doctor: I know. Exactly. Because we want them to go back and multiply this training and do what… Come learn and then go take it back to your local church and teach. It’s not just for you. I had a professor say one time, you’re not the end of your own education. And that’s so true. So, even true for these, for the women who come. We had many women say, you know, “I learned so much. It gave me very practical things to go home and do. One of the most valuable events I’ve ever attended.” I’m just reading some of the feedback, you know, “Tremendously helpful for me personally, but the tools I gained and the encouragement I received will impact the women in my sphere of influence as I share what I have learned with them.” And so, that was so encouraging to hear women get it, not just be personally edified and encouraged, but then be excited to go back and take these tools back to their local church and continue the multiplication effect.
Turkington: Part of the reason I think we think this is needed is, we have this conviction that God has gifted his whole church. He’s gifted men, and He’s gifted women. And those gifts need to be rooted in the Word of God. They need to use The Scriptures to inform their gifts, whatever their gifts are. And we also believe that God has commanded all his people to encourage, to exhort, to instruct. And we need to do those things grounded in The Scriptures. And so, all women need to use those and understand that they’re called to speak it. Not everyone will stand in front of a group and teach, and that is good and okay, but everybody will encourage and disciple someone else. Everyone, we hope, will sit across the table and help them understand how to follow Jesus and hopefully doing that from The Word of God. And so, that’s why we believe that this is needed is because all of us, like Courtney said, need to continue to grow and that everyone can think through, “What is the Lord calling me to do next with his Word?” And it might be leading a Bible study at their work, it might be serving in a Sunday school at their church or teaching their children at home. All of these things are good things to be doing. It seems like God is doing something, equipping women in this age right now, right? It’s not just us, we’re just like a slice of this pie. But God is doing something through multiple people, through your training, Nancy, through other trainings we see with Simeon Trust. And it’s beautiful to get to be a piece of what he’s doing.
Guthrie: Absolutely. So, tell me who’s teaching at these and then maybe more broadly, you could talk about what are you looking for in those who are going to teach at these events?
Doctor: We’re so excited about the people who are coming alongside and joining us in this. So, Taylor teaches, I teach. At the one, we just had in Charlotte, Kathleen Nielsen, and Kori Porter, and Melissa Kruger all came and joined us, Mallie Taylor.
Guthrie: Wow. What a wealth of teachers.
Doctor: Exactly. Exactly. And we have Colleen McFadden and Rebecca McLaughlin, and coming up at the one, and you can even add some more names. But we also want women in… Because we look at regions, we want to really go multiple places and hit different areas of the country, and we also want to raise up women in those areas to come alongside and help us teach because that will strengthen that area too. And so, we have a variety of women teaching, and equipping, and coming in their areas of strength and expertise. I know in Austin we have Jackie Hill Perry and Irene Sun. And I know I’m forgetting so many, but just…
Turkington: Mary Beth.
Doctor: Mary Beth McGreevy. We just have really been blessed with gifted, godly women who have a heart for equipping others to do the same.
Guthrie: So, you mentioned regions. Maybe you could tell us, where all are you gonna be? Where are some of these scheduled coming up that people could get in on?
Turkington: Yes. So, next week is Portland, Oregon, which is my home city. So, I’m excited for that one.
Guthrie: Where will that be in Portland?
Turkington: Well, it’s Portland Metro. So, it’s actually gonna be in Vancouver, which is right across the river at Northwest Gospel Church. It is closed. The registration is closed. We have sold out.
Guthrie: So, how many will you have here?
Turkington: I think we capped it at 430.
Guthrie: Taylor, that’s incredible.
Turkington: Yeah, we have a waiting list that I feel bad for because I wanna get those women in. I’m totally the kind of like, “We’ll just squish them in,” but we can’t this time. And then we have one in Austin. The registration is already open. That’s gonna be June 28th and 29th. It is already over half full. And so, if you are in the Austin area or want to go to that one, you should think about registering. And then we have one in September, I think it’s the 27th and 28th, that is in Philadelphia. That’s the one that Courtney was talking about as we have Colleen McFadden and Mary Willson is gonna be teaching there, and Blair Lynn, and Rebecca McLaughlin, and Rachel Gilson, a great group. And then in November, we have Sacramento, November 1st and 2nd, which we are really excited about. Again, Kathleen will be there, and Courtney and I will be there as well as Adrienne Lawrence.
Guthrie: Oh, those are…
Doctor: And we’re getting the 2020 locations set now. So, we’re talking to churches. If anybody is interested in hosting, go to our website. There is a form you can fill out to possibly host one of these events.
Guthrie: And where do they go to register?
Turkington: That website again. And the website is tgc.org/wtn.
Guthrie: WTN, Women’s Training Network.
Turkington: That’s right.
Guthrie: Do these cost very much?
Turkington: You know, it is our desire to keep the costs as low as possible. So, we’re… Right now they cost around…there’s a range because we have to talk to the church about what helps them cover their costs as well.
Guthrie: Yeah. And you offer meal. You know, that’s part of that cost.
Turkington: Yes. Yeah. And so, it’s around $80. Between $80 and $100 is where it can be depending on the location. And some locations have more than one meal that the church is wanting to offer. So, we have to think about that as well.
Doctor: Well, and I’ll put a plug in right now. If any women would like to support this ministry, one way you can do it is by contributing to a scholarship fund where we scholarship women to come. And so, yeah, that’s just a beautiful way to help other women get equipped.
Guthrie: : Yeah. Well, let’s just spend a few minutes. I wonder if you can talk about a couple of these tracks that you offer. Let me just list them, and you tell me if I’m missing any. “Bible Interpretation.” You talked about that a little bit, and I assume that’s just reading the text and trying to get at the Holy Spirit-intended meaning of the text.
Turkington: Yeah. That track covers a quick story of scripture as well as a quick understanding of genre. And then what questions do we ask of a text to get to what the main point of the author is.
Guthrie: Okay. “Ministry Practicals.” Is that ministry in general? Is that leading women’s ministry? What is that?
Doctor: It predominantly helps equip women to step into leadership roles in their local church. So, how do you lead a Bible study? How do you pick curriculum? Something you and I have talked about before. How do you form a discipleship ministry? So, it’s really feet on the ground in the local church. How do you actually implement these things?
Guthrie: That’s helpful. “The Story of Scripture in your Ministries.” What’s the difference between just “The Story of Scripture,” and “in your Ministry?” How does that come together?
Doctor: Well, I love this one. So, the first session in that, the first workshop is “The Story of Scripture.” And so we look at sort of the pieces and parts of the story and then go through the story. And then we look at, “How does the story of scripture impact discipleship, and how does the story of scripture impact evangelism, and how does the story of scripture impact teaching?” So, it’s looking at… You will hear the story four different times. Obviously, after the first one, it’s a truncated version. You know, they know you’ve gone through the first workshop. But then how do you… Actually, how does that impact, how does that influence those different areas of ministry?
Guthrie: I think I might need to come to that one. “Advanced Bible Topics.” That sounds harder.
Turkington: Oh, it’s so fun, Nancy. This is where we get a bunch of Bible teachers in the room, and we talk about, “Okay, how do we teach this book?” So, someone might… So, each workshop is usually kind of focused on a different book, but we’re taking one principle of Bible interpretation and modeling in that Book. Courtney taught recently in context and then showed how important all these different kinds of contexts are as you teach in a specific book. I think she’s going to do it in 1 & 2 Kings up in Austin. And I’m gonna talk about Biblical theological themes coming out of Ruth. And it’s just gonna be really fun to think, “How do we think about this thing, this Biblical principle of interpretation in this book, but make that transferrable to other books of the Bible.” Oh, we get excited doing that one.
Guthrie: Now, this one seems a lot more personal. “Where Scripture Meets your Suffering.” So, it sounds more personal.
Turkington: Yeah. Yeah. So, some of our tracks are training specifically how to use the Bible. And then some of them are modeling how do we go to the Bible to understand a certain topic. And so, that one is talking about suffering and how we understand the theology of suffering from The Scriptures, but then also how that actually applies to our life, meets your and my suffering, not just abstractly.
Guthrie: This one kind of surprises me that you have this in this group of workshops. What, was it that prompted you to include this?
Turkington: Yeah. And I think some of that was because we’ve seen women not know how to interpret their Bible on that topic. When it came to suffering, they didn’t know what to do with their scriptures. And so, a couple of the topics that we do are because of that. There’s another track in there called “Unity and Dignity.” And “Unity and Dignity” is a track where we talk about people and how we think about people, how we think about people of different ethnicities, people of different ages, how we think about how each of these people and their value and their dignity looking at the Scriptures. So, we need to really be impacted by how God used people.
Guthrie: Those both sound really helpful. “Making Disciples.”
Turkington: Yeah. So, this is another track that’s really focusing on discipleship. The practicals of how do we use the scriptures to walk one on one with someone in discipleship.
Guthrie: So, like “One-to-One Bible Reading?”
Turkington: Yes. That’s a fantastic book that we do use in a specific workshop. But also thinking more broadly, like, “Okay. How do I even start a discipleship relationship? What do I do other than reading the Bible? And how do I think about different issues of different ages of women?” And perhaps, “How do I encourage others in my church to step into discipleship? What are the things that I can do?”
Guthrie: : And then finally, “Christ-like Leadership.”
Turkington: Man, I really love this track. As we think about… All of us have power in our lives that we use in one way or another. And what does it look like to really use power like Christ? Because it is not like the world uses power. And even as women who are not gonna be elders in our churches, we still have authority. We have authority in friendships, we have authority of our children, we have authority when we lead different things. And so, what does it look like for us to be servants? And we look at different passages of scripture and then we get kind of practical about people who lay ourselves down that rather leadership is coming underneath people to serve them rather than hovering over others.
Guthrie: Well, as we close, ladies, I want you to think about, like, looking into the future. You guys are both so busy. Taylor, you have what? How old is your daughter? 16 months, 14?
Turkington: She’s 11 months.
Guthrie: Just 11? Okay.
Turkington: She turns one in a couple of weeks.
Guthrie: Okay. So, you got a one-year-old. Courtney, you have kids in college, you’ve got this new grandbaby, and you’ve got a husband who’s a busy pastor. So much creativity, education, organization has gone into doing these. So, you’re pouring a lot of yourself into these. Let’s say you could look into the future, let’s say maybe a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, what would be your great joy that you would think, “Okay, this has been the result of all that we have poured into that?” What would that look like for both of you?
Doctor: Well, I’ll say that Taylor is the visionary in this. She is so gifted in that. And so, this is just a real thrill for me to kind of be a part of getting to catch this vision that she has seen so clearly and so beautifully. But as I have caught that from her, I can dream, and I can think, and I can see this equipping, the way it’s already impacting women, not just in the States but all over the world. The women from Latin America that came for a training, they’ve already had 12 or 15 events. They’ve taken it back and multiplied the training, and it’s so beautiful. And we do have a global vision for this. And women around the world are hungry for this. And so, as I look into the future and I see women equipped to use the scriptures well, like Taylor was saying, not just teaching, but in discipleship. How do you sit with another woman while she’s suffering? So, not just the theology of your own suffering, but how has your theology of suffering shaped so that you can sit in a hospital or in a chemo chair with somebody while they’re suffering or walk through hard things? Or how do you take the scriptures and use them in one on one discipleship? You know, I love discipleship and at the age now that I get to walk with younger women and it’s such a privilege. And so as I dream and think about that happening across the United States, women better able to use their scriptures in relational ministry as well as teaching ministries, and then thinking about that around the world. What a privilege. So, that is what I see, that is what I hope for, that is what I pray for. And that is absolutely what compels me to be a part of this.
Turkington: Yeah. I think that that is exactly the vision that we’re really praying for, Nancy. We don’t think that WTN is gonna become great, that this is gonna be the thing that everyone has heard of and that everyone has necessarily attended. Though we want everyone to come, but we pray that as we teach women to continue to use their Scriptures well and then to be able to speak them to others, use and serve with their Scriptures, that it spreads. That everything we teach is transferable, and so that the woman that comes goes and teaches it to several a women in her living room, who teach it to several others, and that the women of the local churches feel more comfortable and confident using their Bibles to love and serve other people. And then we pray that that spreads as we train women in other parts of the world. We trained several women in Latin America who we were just honored to know, but that we were grateful to just support and further help them as they set forward to teach these things. And there’s a couple other continents that have asked us to come, and we just wanna support and encourage those Bible teachers to do the same thing. We pray the Lord would be glorified and that more people will come to Christ and grow in their love of him in his Word.
Guthrie: Well, what a beautiful thing you’re investing yourselves in and you have a champion and cheerleader in me.
Turkington: Thank you, Nancy.
Guthrie: Well, thank you for talking with me today about the Women’s Training Network. Before we close, I wanna tell you about another opportunity for women. It is for women in the pews who sometimes find that they have little desire to read their Bibles because when they do, they feel like there is something underneath the surface of what they’re reading that would help them to grasp what is being presented, but they can’t seem to get to it. And so often, we find that frustrating and defeating. And when this is the case, if we even do persevere in reading our Bibles, we’re likely to always be jumping too quickly from, “What does this text mean?” to, “What does it mean to me?” We can very easily try to figure out how to make the Bible about us instead of seeing how most profoundly it’s about Christ. And so, to help women grow in their ability to see Christ in all the Scriptures, I am launching a series of workshops that will run from the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020. I’m going to be presenting “Biblical Theology Workshops for Women.” They’re currently scheduled in 15 cities around the country. These workshops are going to be hosted by churches and seminaries who have a heart for women from all over their area to come and to learn together over three sessions, three sessions that I’m planning to be very energetic and interactive, and I hope, actually, lots of fun.
And so, if you are interested in getting to know your Bible better, or you know someone who is, or a pastor. If there’s a woman in your church who is hungry to know the Bible better, I hope you will check out the “Biblical Theology Workshops for Women.” You can do that by going to my website, nancyguthrie.com and you will find the dates and the list of cities there. Maybe it’ll be the kind of thing that you’ll talk to a friend and say, “Hey, they’re not doing one in our city, but let’s roadtrip and let’s go to one of these.” I hope you will register and I look forward to seeing you at the “Biblical Theology Workshop for Women” sometime in the fall of 2019 or the spring of 2020.
You’ve been listening to “Help Me Teach the Bible” with Nancy Guthrie, a production of The Gospel Coalition, sponsored by Crossway. Crossway is a not-for-profit publisher of the ESV Bible, Christian books, and tracks. Learn more about Crossway’s gospel-centered resources at crossway.org.