I am so thankful for the many online resources provided by women who hold God and His Word in high regard. Allison Burr is one of those women. I have had the opportunity to follow her ministry for several months and was so excited to hear of her upcoming webinar series for moms like you and me.
I thought it would be great for you as my readers to catch a glimpse of her heart and passion for other women and theology so I contacted her with a few questions.
I am a homeschooling mother to 4 children, ages 11 down to 3. I have been married to Chris for 16 years, and last year we relocated our family from Minneapolis to Franklin, TN, so we are most decidedly northern transplants to the South.
The Lord, in his gracious providence, converted me to Christianity at the age of 27, a mere 6 weeks after I had given birth to my first child. Mercifully, my husband was subsequently converted a few months later. Our journey has been difficult and grace-filled, full of beauty and brokenness all at the same time.
Recently, I heard a seminary professor use this definition of theology, and I think it is spot-on for this conversation: “All theology is the application of God’s word, by persons, to all areas of life. Therefore, all theology must be pastoral.” He went on to say that theology is implicitly personal, comprehensive, intellectual, volitional, and emotional.
Working from that definition, we can see that our knowledge and understanding of God’s word as revealed to us through the Bible is practical; it has meaning and application to every single area of our lives, our minds, our wills, and our emotions. So we are working out our theology every waking hour of our day. The way we think about current events, feel towards our husbands, act towards our melting-down children, organize our schedules and homes, create our family culture, discipline our children, communicate with other women, control our wayward emotions — each of these reflects an outworking of what we believe to be true about God, and to whom our allegiance lies.
There is certainly a place for theologians in the pulpit and in the seminary classroom. But just as critical to the Church (the redeemed people of God) are faithful theologians in the home — i.e., domestic theologians. In many ways, I think, we have greater influence within the Church. Our pastors (whom I love and thank God for) have direct access to my family 2 hours a week. I, on the other hand, have direct access to my children 24 hours a day. As such, my husband and I are their primary influencers. What a glorious and humbling role He has given us within the home!
If you walk into any Christian bookstore (which I don’t often recommend), you will find a whole lot of sentimentalism and borderline heresy. Sadly, much of it is specifically geared towards women. Somehow femininity has gotten all tangled up with a rubbish heap of soft-pedaled prosperity theology, with a sugary layer of sentimentalism as the pink bow. Now, praise God that there is a small but growing number of female Bible teachers who are faithful to expositing the word of God in substantial and significant ways. But far too much of what is advertised specifically toward women (and therefore, what women are buying) is unhelpful at best and damaging at worst. We don’t need self-help; we need a Savior. And that Savior is found in the richness of the scriptures — not in someone’s 10 steps to a happier week.
Related to that major stumbling block, I think, is a widespread reluctance by women to read books and listen to sermons and lectures by (male) pastors and theologians. My joke is: Dr. Sinclair Ferguson (a favorite Scottish theologian) speaks half as quickly as I do and yet dispenses twice as much wisdom in every phrase. So why listen to Allison Burr, when you can listen to someone who has spent a lifetime mining the riches of God’s word and meditating on the person and work of Jesus Christ?
What I am trying to say is: just because you’re a woman (and I’m in the same camp here) doesn’t meant that we can only learn from other women. I have joked that RC Sproul has taught me far more about homemaking than anyone else. And has he ever specifically addressed the topic of homemaking? Nope. Yes, Titus 2-style mentoring and teaching is critical for us as women. But there is so much more Bible to study, and God has created the office of pastor/elder to feed his flock. Let’s not neglect the importance of sitting under the preaching of your pastor every Sunday morning, and perhaps hunting down a great series or two on the internet to have queued up on your iPod for the next early morning walk.
First and foremost, I love, love teaching biblical truths and their wide application to my own children. I am privileged to do that 7 days a week. And there are always heap-loads of kisses and hugs and snuggles involved in the midst of it. What could be better than that?
Secondly, I love to take hold of my status as a sub-creator (as JRR Tolkein puts it), and as fully participating in my status as a trinitarian creator (as Dorothy Sayers puts it) in my own home. Don’t think there is value in creating a functional and beautiful mud room? Think again! You are creating, bringing forth, and applying the glories of a smooth schedule and organizational structure that brings beauty and order to the lives of your children.
Hesitant about trying to implement some habit-building amongst your crazy crew? Don’t be! You will be giving them life, and life in abundance, when they learn to take hold of practices and habits that will help shape their childhood and their adult lives. We mothers wield tremendous influence and power — let’s not waste it.
Last summer, I launched 3 podcasts: Cultivating the Kingdom (theology for women); The Straight Stick(practical application into family life); and Melody, Mystery & Mayhem (a family-oriented podcast full of stories, silliness, and songs).
In an effort to streamline my efforts, I converted The Straight Stick to a 60-second video-podcast, hosted on my Instagram feed and on my website. This has given me the chance to include my kids in all the recordings and to learn how to speak “on point” in a much more efficient manner (something I will probably struggle with until I meet Jesus face-to-face!).
Just this week, we began recording new segments for Season 2 of Melody, Mystery & Mayhem podcast (to release the last week of August). The Lord has graciously provided some very talented folks to help our family with this aspect of ministry for our 2nd season, and we are humbled and delighted to be working alongside some folks who will be new to the Melody, Mystery & Mayhem crowd!
As for Cultivating the Kingdom, I decided to push pause on interviewing theologians for a bit, and instead will be teaching live, online webinars. I am offering 3 new webinars on 3 different theological topics. I am exceedingly nervous and excited, and am continually praying that the Lord would grow me as a lifelong student of the Bible, and as a teacher who is ever faithful to the word of God.
As I just mentioned, each webinar course will address an entirely different topic. The first course in September is “The Liturgical Home,” and I am using as a foundation the first half of James K.A. Smith’s book: You Are What You Love. (You don’t have to read the book to take the course). This 4-session webinar will look at the Augustinian view of affection-forming (ordo amoris), how our habits shape our desires, what types of liturgies might already be present in your home, and how we as mothers have the gift of creating and implementing new liturgies that reflect the realities of the Kingdom of God. And you might just want to take the course to find out what I mean by the word liturgy! 🙂
The second course will run 4 sessions in October and is called “Building Foundations: Our Calling for the Younger Years.” This is what I wish an older, wiser homeschooling Christian mother had told me 11 years ago, when I was a brand-new mother and a brand-new believer. I knew nothing about everything, and so much of those early years were a disaster or much harder than they had to be. My oldest is now 11 1/2, and my 4th child is 3 1/2, and so I am still in the thick of (imperfectly) implementing my theology in this area of child-rearing, but sometimes wisdom wrought the hard way is still worth sharing!
The third is a 3-part webinar entitled “Fear & Motherhood: Identity and Remembrances in Times of Crisis.” Quite providentially, I scheduled this to land in the first weeks of November, in the midst of our upcoming presidential elections. I have been asked countless times about handling fear as a mother (particularly as it relates to the cultural and political environment in which we find ourselves). So I decided to dig deep into some long-dead theologians, and the book of Romans, in order to exhort my own soul — and the souls of any others who want to join me — about what it is we need to know, trust, and remember when our world seems like it is falling apart.
**The cost for each course is $15, but if you elect to sign up for all 3, there is a $10 bundle discount.
TruthBeautyGoodness.net is the umbrella for all our other ministry endeavors. You can find all the details there about podcasts, webinars, and any other resources I have created.
I’m so thankful for Allison and her heart for the gospel! Sign up for the Fall 2016 Classes HERE. You’ll be so glad you did!