IF : Local - The Biggest Table
by Jen Hatmaker on October 16th, 2013

IF : Austin sold out Monday during pre-registration in 42 minutes.
 
That is the time it takes to watch two episodes of The Mindy Project with no commercials. Just enough time to eat a sandwich.
 
We thought there was a hunger, we suspected strongly, but we were blown away by the fervent ache to be a part of this new thing. This is actually happening in our generation, this desire for God and kingdom and truth and justice. I’ve been on the verge of ugly crying all week. I feel so connected to you, so proud to run alongside of you for Jesus’ sake.
 
1200 seats were gone in an instant. So very many of you didn’t get one, and I know you’re disappointed. Here is where I tell you something real: In my opinion, IF : Local is actually where it is at. If the content was identical, but I had to pick between a giant conference and a living room of friends, I would pick the latter 100 times out of 100. Truthfully, IF : Local is closer to the heartbeat of the overarching vision than anything else we’re building.
 
We value eye contact, bare feet on couches, coffee mugs in hand. We love small, safe spaces and hours of rich conversation among real-life friends. We absolutely believe in the power of connection, when women listen and get real and wrestle with complicated issues together and share communion. We believe in your neighborhood, your tribe, your local church, and your invaluable role there. We believe in you. A two-day conference in Austin cannot powerfully impact your community like you can.

We need your voice, your leadership, your passion, your skills, your homes, and your gathering spaces. We need your invitations, your mad cooking skills, conversation starters and ice breakers. We need it all. We need your eyes and ears, your prayers, and ultimately, your heart.
 
YOU are the one that will usher in awakening for women in your city. Sure, we’ll livestream from Austin to give an excuse to start this party, but you will be the one that ministers. The one that stands in real life, alongside the sick and hurting, the broken and redeemed on the front lines. And we’ll celebrate with you, we’ll want to hear it all.
 
The kingdom has always come subversively, in small ways, in local places, around dinner tables. Jesus sent his followers out two-by-two. IF : Austin will include just over 1000 women; IF : Local will involve tens of thousands in their actual lives, where women can gather organically and cheer each other on to bravery long after the last session is over. This is the stuff. When I think of thousands of gatherings around the globe, pondering the same content and breaking bread together and creating safe places for each other, well, I.just.cannot.even.handle.it.
 
We are thrilled beyond words for IF : Local. It is as much a part of this as the Austin gathering, I assure you. Even more so. We have some ideas for maximizing IF : Local in your context (and way more to come): Kick your family out and gather your friends in your house for two days, rent a cute house together, meet in your church basement, plan a progressive dinner centered on each session, tuck away in your parents’ lake house, organize several small gatherings then come together for communion at the end. Empty nester? Open your clean quiet home to a group of women for IF : Local. What a gift. This is where it gets real and tangible.
 
Monday, Jennie shot this little video to update you on where the Spirit is leading. Please watch and keep reading:

We’re sure that you have lots of questions. Let us try and answer those for you.
 
What can we expect?
 
In February, we want you to gather with your friends locally and keep it loose, laid back, and simple. We expect to see some stellar menus. Read more here about what to expect in February, including information on the resources we will and will not provide you as leaders. 
 
When should we register?
 
Today! We need your local leadership to begin to build the February gathering.
 
1. Will you register NOW for IF:Local and give $25 or more to help us reach our goal? As with IF : Austin, we refuse to let price be a barrier. If you can give $3 or no dollars or $12.50, super. You are so welcome. (And if you'd rather give $1000, then BY ALL MEANS. Smiley face.)
 
2. Forward this to 15 of your friends and tell them about IF : Local. Encourage them to sign up with you! 
 
3. Post on Facebook and Twitter that your friends should join you for IF : Local. Click here for the link to Facebook.

4. Tweet this: Join @IFGathering by registering for #IFLocal, local gatherings to watch our live webcast Feb 7-8.

This vision is not possible without each of you, and we are so incredibly grateful that this is how God intended it to be. Let's build this. Let's gather our tribe in cabins and living rooms and music halls and church basements and in Austin and Cleveland and Uganda and Mexico City, around tables and couches and patio chairs and meeting halls, with Bibles and coffee and bacon-wrapped dates in our hands, and let's chase after the kingdom together. Let's open our arms wide and beg God to cast a fresh vision over our generation, declaring together that we are hungry and we are His.

May we be obedient and brave and faithful in our time, because we are so loved.

Let's do this together.



The damn broke as I finished this piece. Dripping tears all over my sweatshirt. Please, tell me. Tell me everything. Will you join us? Will you gather in your city? What will you do? Share your ideas with us. Let us share in the thrill of your local gatherings.


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32 Comments

Lori - October 16th, 2013 at 9:25 AM
Jen, I couldn't be more be more excited. I'll admit, I was devestated when I got the "sold out" message after feverishly trying to get a ticket on Monday. Then I felt the calling...welling up deep within...IF:Local. It's amazing the number of local women who are already hungry for it yet they knew nothing about it 48 hours ago. I have registered and am now praying for God to do BIG things here in Southeast Texas. Joining you in prayer. ~Lori Lehrmann
Christy - October 17th, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Lori, when you say Southeast Texas, where exactly do you mean? I would love to do this, but my son's birthday is the 7th, and I committed to speaking at a breakfast on the 8th. If dropping in late is an option, I would be thrilled. I'm about 30 minutes East of Houston in Baytown.
Thanks,
Christy
Aurelia Stratton - October 16th, 2013 at 9:26 AM
Oh Jen! I love this! I so need to email you!
Aurelia - October 16th, 2013 at 9:34 AM
I can't find a place to email you... :( I'm about to bust! But I understand, I can't imagine all the messages you would receive. I am just back from a conference with 100 women in Georgia and it was incredible! God is moving through His girls because we are SO READY for our Groom, Jesus! I KNOW you are on to something so huge here.... beyond that, you are renovating a dilapidated house.... I just bought a dilapidated church in August and we'll begin renovations next year to turn it into a unique location for a unique ministry.... Praying for you! Until I am finally able to meet you ..... xoxo in Christ
Abby Norman - October 16th, 2013 at 10:04 AM
I was in a car accident when the tickets were being sold, otherwise I would have been hitting refresh like a maniac. I was heart broken. I am part of Elora's Story Sessions community and we were all going to rent a house together. But now? Now I am hosting in Atlanta. Come to my house! Bring a snack! Check out the stains on my sofa friends, you don't even have to be embarrassed if you are the one that spills coffee! Let's take our shoes off. Let's be real together.
Angel - October 16th, 2013 at 10:06 AM
When IF:Gathering was first presented, I was interested, but couldn't quite commit because I felt like I would be leaving the amazing women I lead behind. I wanted them with me, to learn with me, to pray with me, to dream with me...so I chose not to register. With the news of IF:Local, I knew. I just knew. This was for me and my tribe in Tucson, AZ. We want to continue to be present in our city, listening and watching for the heart of God, joining Him as He draws our neighbors to Himself.
Alysa - October 16th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
I love your heart, friend. LOVE.
Janet Combes - October 16th, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Very excited about the IF movement. I live in Hixson, Tn and would love to be involved in the local gathering. Janet Combes
Linda - October 21st, 2013 at 6:53 PM
Janet, I am hosting in Chattanooga. Every single day this past week as I've read about if: gathering, without fail, the tears start rolling. My kids think I'm sick. I simply cannot wait. Here's my email if you want to connect: lindatown79@gmail.com
Tricia Najera - October 16th, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Being the "older" member of a new church plant in San Antonio that is full of young twenty and thirty something women, I was thrilled to hear of IF:Local and immediately volunteered my "clean" (ha, ha) empty nester house to gather this community and build unity among us. We are so excited!!! Has a tentative schedule been made yet for session times etc? The wheels are turning...
Star - October 16th, 2013 at 11:20 AM
The fire is catching, its spreading Jen - through individuals, families, faith communities, through HIS church as a whole. We just finished a Women's Breakfast for our church, where I shared my journey through foster-adopting our two sons, and the new passion God has given us for justice in our community. 135 women came and 68 of them signed up that morning to serve in local ministries such as a food pantry, crisis pregnancy center, homeless outreach, after school program and more. In one morning 68 of our women were mobilized. Praise the Lord!
Les Pogue - October 16th, 2013 at 11:25 AM
so ready.....I'll be looking and gathering and hosting in Southeast Oklahoma. My heart is full and I want MORE.
Christa - October 16th, 2013 at 11:31 AM
I love you, girl. I just do. Got my ticket, sister.
~Karrilee~ - October 16th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
I signed up first thing to host... as much as I LOVE love love the idea of Gathering women in my home... all cozy and squeezed in close to fill the space of my living room - I am staying open to other ideas... other (larger) spaces... waiting to see what God will do!(Secretly praying that others in my area will catch the vision and we can meet in smaller groups and then gather together in one larger space for corporate worship and prayer! Aaaah - the best of both worlds - and all right here in my city! Yes, please!)
AnnieLaurie - October 16th, 2013 at 11:51 AM
My 37th birthday is February 12. I am hosting a gathering here in northern VA for my birthday! I am still praying through what it all looks like. My church is working through Multiply by Francis Chan. That plus IF:Local equals more momentum from that Lord than I have felt in a really long time. Thanks for opening it up to all of us.
Laura - January 13th, 2014 at 11:27 AM
If you are open to having an additional guest, I would be interested in joining you. Will you please send me an email?
Megan Hall - October 16th, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Jen,
Practical question. You posted about reaching to the women's prisons, the homeless, the moms with no sitters, and I am ALL IN. But is this conference going to be accessible for both believers and non-believers? I know you want to reach the masses, so I'm guess it's accessible for all. But it'd be good to know when we start prep work for reaching everyone locally. :)
Thanks!
Karen - October 16th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
I believe you meant to say, "The dam broke..." OOPS! Teehee
Jennifer - October 16th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Aloha! I just registered for If: Local & I'm excited about dreaming up what God has in store for the ladies here in Maui...and doing "If" Hawaiian-style :) Praying for Him to enlarge the hope & vision of our lives on this amazing island and beyond.

Question: Will the sessions be recorded to coincide with time differences? We'll be 4 hours behind Texas time..."If" starts at 2pm Friday, then in Hawaii it would be 10am.
Andrea - January 24th, 2014 at 1:06 PM
Jennifer - Do you know if there is an IF gathering in Maui? I will be visiting the island and would love to join%u2026 Thank you! Enjoy Austin - woot woot! - xo
Cathy - October 16th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
I thought I was excited at the idea of joining you all in Austin..UNTIL God said: IF:LOCAL, baby!! Registered! Hungry!
Colleen - October 16th, 2013 at 4:58 PM
For reasons I can't explain - only God's Spirit urging me forward - my heart is thrilled and overflowing with hope for IF:Gathering! I plan to relocate my husband and my son (just for a couple days :) ) and throw open my front door to women in Bend, Oregon who are as hungry for Jesus and His movement among women as I am! Until then, I will wait and pray for those who are planning this. Move, Lord Jesus, move wildly among us for Your glory alone...
Amy E Patton - October 16th, 2013 at 7:59 PM
This is an answer to a deep prayer- reaching women in MY community. Now, I have a way to do it LOCAL. Thank you so very much.
Katie May - October 17th, 2013 at 6:48 AM
I am so incredibly amazed at what God is doing in and around the IF: Gathering, have been since the moment I heard about it. I am in the process of gathering together all the women involved in the Christian medical residency my husband works for...prayerfully hoping for not just the doctors nor just the "doctors' wives," but also the office staff and the medical assistants and nurses. Will you pray with me that God moves in and among these women to join together and ask that question of God and each other: "If God is real, then what?" I am longing for Him to answer that for each of us individually, but also for us as a group!
Delina - October 17th, 2013 at 4:39 PM
I have been following the progress of IF:Gathering since y'all launched...but I am still puzzled. I need more details! What am I signing up for and what would I be inviting friends to? It all seems like one big vague (yet exciting, I admit) vision, but if someone asked me to describe it, I wouldn't be able to. Can someone please articulate the vision in practical and tangible words?
Andrea - October 17th, 2013 at 6:27 PM
Hi Jen! I'm a first time commenter, but have been reading your blog for a while and loving what I read! I just wanted to let you know that I have been feeling the pull - the big pull - to be part of something related to Christian unity, and I just knew that the IF conference was right for me. So I stalked my email on Monday like teenage girl stalks her crush's facebook page, and was able to register for the gathering in February! I will be 7 months pregnant... and representing the Catholic church (gasp!)... and I really, truly couldn't be more excited to be part of what God is doing. I only wish I could be in two places at once and could be leading an IF: Local group at the same time. Best Regards, Andrea
Michelemybelle - October 17th, 2013 at 8:56 PM
This is totally off topic but I made those dates and I couldn't eat them because the looked too much like cockroaches!
Evelyn - October 18th, 2013 at 8:11 PM
God has been stirring my heart all year, causing me to slow down in activities and listen to His still small voice, and connect. When I first heard about the IF:Gathering, something resonated inside of me and there are others in our community that are hungry for God. At breakfast today I was sharing with a couple of friends what information I had about it, but was not able to paint a clear picture of what to expect from a logistical standpoint. I realize that the IF team is probably asking similar questions because this is something new God is doing and there is nothing to gauge it by. However, if you have suggestions on how one could describe the format of the evening to those we invite, that would be helpful. What will we actually be viewing via webcast; a worship and prayer service, inspirational talks, facilitated questions?
Rachel - October 20th, 2013 at 9:49 PM
I have the same question.
Jessica - October 21st, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Can the leadership of the church book us for IF: Local with a small amount of money to begin with and then collect donations from all the ladies who want to attend and send after collection? The initial collection can be and will be before the actual event... kind of like selling tickets but whatever they are willing to pitch in (maybe even have a suggested donation). Then we could even have a jar at the event if women feel led to give more and we could send more after. Would that be ok? I would love to get something in the works at my church to get this started.
Jessica - October 21st, 2013 at 4:49 PM
I want to invite everyone, but I want to host in my home. Perhaps we can split into several homes. I will talk with my husband tonight about my maniacal plans to kick him and our littles out for a few days to spread this vision across our city :)
Reagan - November 3rd, 2013 at 9:34 AM
Registered to host in little, tiny Surry VA!!! This is an absolute answer to prayer! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are ready....
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