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  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

Review: The Gathering Project by Yohonna Smith of Girls Talking Life

A few months ago, Yohonna — wonderful, gracious host of the Girls Talking Life (GTL) podcast — asked if I'd like to be part of the test group for a new course she would be launching. The course is The Gathering Project and the aim is to help participants gather, have conversations, create meaningful connections, and build lasting friendships.⠀

It was an easy yes!

Yohonna and I met when she invited me to be a guest on GTL — the first podcast interview I ever did. I was so nervous, I talked a mile a minute. But will be forever grateful to God and Yohonna for the opportunity. More than this though, in following GTL on Instagram, I've been amazed at Yohonna's love for and gifting in building community. So I was game to be a part of the test group, even if I didn't really have any expectations.

As an introvert, it's natural for me to share and connect with others through writing or attending events that others organize. But as I worked through the course, I realized I hadn't ever actually organized an intentional gathering myself.

That's what The Gathering Project is about, by the way. Not just creating a social event but having a prayed-through focus and attendee list.

But don't take it from me, take it from Yohonna!

What is The Gathering Project?

It's a 5-day experience to plan, prep and gather with your girlfriends.

What will we cover in 5 days?

Over the course of 5 days, you will:

  • Define the purpose of your gathering

  • Name the women you'd like to include

  • Choose the type of gathering you'll have

  • Decide where to have it

  • Learn about including elements

  • Receive hostess support

How much is it and what's included?

The course is $17 USD and includes:

  • 5 days of coaching videos to guide you through each step of the Project delivered to your inbox for you to watch at your convenience

  • The Girls Gathering Guide, a 12-page workbook, a companion to the videos, with daily tasks to move your planning and prepping forward

  • Conversation cards, 24 print and cut cards with curated questions and prompts to use at your gathering to take your conversations to the next level

  • Access to a private Facebook group to connect with other participants and receive support, ideas and encouragement

  • The Girls Gathering Checklist, a quick way to keep track of your tasks

  • A customizable menu template, designed by Katie Brown of At The Lane, exclusively for The Gathering Project

So how did I find The Gathering Project?

Because the course is 5 days, it was easy to commit to even during a busy work week. I tended to watch the videos (less than 10 mins, if I remember correctly) in the morning as I was getting ready for work and often completed the workbook task for the day right after as well.

I loved how prayerful the process was. Working through the purpose, invite list, type of gathering, location and so on was much less intimidating when I realized I could just ask God rather than thinking through things myself! (Always learning how to do this more :))

Quite quickly I felt God remind me of conversations I'd had with women in my community regarding waiting for marriage. I thought of two women who were in a similar stage as me and hungry to grow in the Lord — one I knew well, one I didn't but wanted to (a real prayer warrior!). And by the end of the 5 days, I really had planned a gathering, recruited a co-host (the friend I knew well, who invited the friend I wanted to know), and organized a meet-up to discuss next steps.

For our first session, we met on Zoom and I shared with my friends about The Gathering Project and why I thought of them. We all agreed it would be nice to have this group so we could study, learn, share, pray and support each other during this season. One of the tasks for this first meeting was to try and narrow down a book — my friends didn't have many to recommend, while I had apparently accumulated nearly 10 books on the topic over the years! (I like to read / over prepare... haha, anyone else?)

apple, beetroot and carrot juice (ABC juice)
With our apple, beetroot and carrot juice!

About a month later, we had our first proper session: a monthly book study on Tim and Kathy Keller's The Meaning of Marriage, over brunch hosted by my friend A, with discussion led by me (with A leading discussion every other month).

It was fun! I grew in one friendship and made another. And I truly believe it's God's timing.

The day of our first session was a Sunday, and the sermon that day happened to be on marriage. And in the weeks afterwards, our Pastor announced we'd be doing a series on God's order for relationships — family, small group, singleness, dating and so on. It's not a series we've done before and yet I feel the season is ripe for our community to go to God with arms outstretched and letting him prune, heal, lead, love, teach however he wants.

We had to reschedule session 2 as A was in the middle of studying for a medical exam but we will resume in June. And we have seven chapters / monthly gatherings to look forward to. :)

A's amazing brunch spread

TLDR: Here's the testimonial I wrote after completing The Gathering Project.

Highly recommend signing up for The Gathering Project! It was so practical — I really did form the gathering I planned during the course. Would especially recommend it for those who are hosting newbies or consider themselves introverts (like me).

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or feel free to send a DM on Instagram!

The next round of The Gathering Project starts June 14, 2021. Save your spot here.


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