Today, we warmly welcome Erica Campbell to “Stories of Discipleship” to talk about the Wonder Girls’ Conference she organized and directed this August.
Kristi: How did you come up with the theme for this year's LifePoint Ministries Girls’ Conference?
Erica: This year's theme, “Wonder,” may be my favorite of the last four years! When I began dreaming and praying about this conference, I kept imagining a lush, beautiful, Disney-inspired, enchanted, green forest. As I thought about this idea, the word “Wonder” came to mind. I believe in our culture, many children lack imagination and most feel the need to grow up quickly, so I wanted to create an atmosphere to challenge our girls to imagine and dream big.
My hope and prayer for the weekend was to give girls space to wonder about the things God has placed in their hearts or discover His dreams for them for the first time. I wanted to do that, though, while also teaching them about the WONDER of who our God is.
I was studying Ephesians at that time of planning, and this verse from chapter 3 confirmed the theme: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." When I thought about myself as a young girl and the dreams I had then, I realized how applicable this verse was to me. I would have never imagined I would be where I am, doing these things I dreamed of, but it’s also been amazing to watch God go beyond what I could have imagined. That's my hope for our girls!
Kristi: Tell me about a personal highlight from the conference.
Erica: Wow! There could be so many, but my favorite highlight is the way we ended. After having breakout sessions throughout the weekend for the specific grades, we came together for the ending. Meredith Light was our highlighted speaker, and she did a phenomenal job bringing it all together by teaching on the Wonder of who God is. This was so important because, throughout the weekend, the sessions were focused more on the girls.
We then moved into a time of worship, and the leaders prayed with each girl. Next, we presented a takeaway piece from the weekend: a small glass bottle with a few beautiful rocks and moss inside and a tag that read, WONDER. I hope this piece will serve as a reminder to the girls that they can "Dream Big," and that God can do far more than they could ever imagine. My illustration was that God was the glass jar, and the beautiful pieces of rock were their dreams. All God asks of us is to place those dreams and desires in His hands and trust in His goodness.
I loved this part so much because these girls needed that individual time of prayer, love, and encouragement. Every year, I've had girls attend who have been abused, taken from their homes, struggling with suicidal thoughts and self-harm, and girls who need to know they are enough and that God loves them. The Father was so faithful to love on His girls and remind them of who He is and what He can do in their lives.
Kristi: What inspired you to start a conference-level girls’ event?
Erica: When I began working for LifePoint Ministries, Girls’ Ministries had been inactive for years. So, of course, my heart's desire was to see an annual event happen. I had the dream of offering this ministry to our girls, and so I presented it to our leadership. Ministry to girls is very important in the Church, and although many cannot offer something each week, we can get creative. I tell many of our local church leaders, it's okay if you can't do something once a week, offer something once a month, once a quarter, or even once a year, and get your girls to any conference/national level events that are offered.
Kristi: This isn’t the first time you’ve hosted a weekend girls’ conference. Could you share a few tips you’ve learned about organizing and running this type of event?
Erica: You can do a lot with a little! My first year as Girls’ Director, I didn't have a budget at all. And although I do have a small one now, registration costs cover a good bit of the total (and my registration fee is only $30). Also, I have partnered with our host, Mountain Gap Church, and they are incredible! I wouldn't be able to do this without them. They donate most of our food items. So, I would say get creative and look for churches who are willing to invest in something like this.
Also, I've learned that the more local church leaders you involve in your event, the quicker they will grab the vision and run with it. I usually have a leader from each attending church teach a breakout session, lead a craft, or help with meal prep. I also encourage our women leaders and moms to come with their girls!
Switch things up! Every year, I have changed the conference. You can always find something you can do better. Change is a good thing! I also follow up with some of my high school girls and ask them what was relatable and what they would like to see in the future. This year, I had a student from Emmanuel who had participated in our conference throughout high school, and I asked her to be a part of the worship team. It is a great way to involve college-aged girls and teach them how to be a leader in something they grew up attending as a young girl.
Finally, be sure you do everything you can to make the event centered on the girls. They need to know you care. If you can do that, they are more willing to open up to you. And you want that trust because at the end of the day your goal is for them to trust you to take them to the Father.
Kristi: You already minister to college students and women. Why add girls’ ministry?
Erica: Discipleship can begin at an early age. Even very young women can impact their school campuses, their churches, and their workplaces for the Kingdom. They have the potential to make disciples if someone invests in them while they’re young. Because I live and work on a college campus, I see the spiritual void many of our young women have. They are longing for mentorship (even if they don't realize it), and so many I encounter have never had someone come beside them and be that for them. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with girls and women of all ages.
More about Erica: Erica Campbell is a young leader in the IPHC and actively ministers through the Awakening, Women’s Ministries, and Girls’ Ministries. She also works at LifePoint Ministries as the Administrative Assistant for Conference Functions.