‘The Gospels were written for both men and women' | Candi's story
Candi Thorpe is a staff member at Calvary Baptist Church, Burlington in Ontario. Candi has been involved with Christianity Explored at her church since 2014.
In 2017, Candi was preparing to lead her first course on her own when something unexpected happened. “We hadn't advertised it as a women's ministry event, but when we got to the first night and realised it was all women, it was really cool!" Candi knew that this group was of "divine design" so the few male leaders and table leaders for the course stepped back and let the group continue as an all-women's course.
I asked Candi what her experience of leading Christianity Explored for the first time and with all women was like. "We had some more extroverted women who wanted to talk about everything. All at once. Overlapping! But the introverted women, whether they were wrestling with a question or just didn't know what to think, they had no time or space to process."
Candi knew she had to make a change. In the second week of the course, she adjusted how she introduced a new discussion question. "I'd tell the group, 'In a couple of minutes, I'm going to ask this certain question.' Then I'd pose the question and we'd go on to discuss other things. By the time we returned to the original question, we found that this delay tempered the extroverted woman who wanted to jump right in and gave the introverted woman the chance to process a little bit."
After that week, Candi said things took off. "We really became quite a cohesive group after that. We ended up with this richer experience in the long run because we were actually listening to each other. From a relational perspective and for me leading, it was a huge win for the group."
A woman's approach to the Gospel
I asked Candi how the conversations around the content and themes in Christianity Explored were different from other courses she has been a part of.
"Certainly, the relational aspects of the Gospel stood out more," Candi said. "We were really able to process and be vulnerable about how the intimacy of the relational components of the Gospel, as well as the videos, really touched us.
"The Gospels were written for both men and women. And we know that something special happens when women get together, study God, and study Scripture. We bring a different perspective to it, and we share from our own experiences. If Scripture is correct that we 'comfort one another with the comfort we ourselves have received,' then the places where I am grieving are the ways God is going to use me to bring relief to someone else's sadness." (2 Corinth. 1:4)
At the end of their course, one woman renewed her commitment to Christ, and another gave her life to Christ for the first time. Both were baptised within the following months. Of the first woman, Candi said, "Her zeal for what she rediscovered was tangible." The second woman is now a "serving, giving, loving" member of the church and helps out with the women's ministry. For everyone else, Candi says God used the time to deepen their relationships with one another.