What an amazing conference last week in Eger, Hungary – The European Leadership Forum. It was the brainchild of a handful of Christian leaders 6 or 7 years ago and has developed into quite a movement. Around 300 people gathered from across the continent, all committed to Christian ministry in all its forms – meeting in various ‘networks’ for all kinds of walks of life: Apologetics, Politics, Counselling, Pastors, Scientists, Artists etc etc. This was the little group of Pastors (we definitely need to do better at recruitment next year) that we met with (ie Jonathan Lamb and me, operating the Pastors network as reps of Langham Partnership). Despite our small size, we had a great time and a remarkable spread of guys: Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Serbia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain and Sweden: 4 from the ‘east’, 4 from the ‘west’.
But the vision of the conference goes far beyond the actual annual gathering in Hungary. The idea is to help people to meet others in similar fields from across the continent, and thereby share ideas, mutual encouragement and resources. This creates real synergy (one of steering committee member Richard Cunningham’s FAVOURITE words). A brilliant example is the website – which contains a HUGE resource in itself – many of the talks and lectures from the last few years are online and free to download: ELF Resources. You can get a sense of the diversity of interests and thought just by looking at the Topics list. 2007 talks will be added soon. The key in all this is to help people gain confidence in the fact that we can have sensible things to say as Christians about anything and everything. This is not to say that Christians always do have sensible things to say about anything and everything. In fact more often than not, i find myself cringing when we Christians try to say things for they are far from sensible. [NB I’m certainly not claiming for myself perfect sensibility, let alone sense] So anyway, Jonathan & I were there to help a little in thinking about preaching, not just sensibly, but faithfully, clearly and relevantly, not as experts, but as fellow travellers. We had a laugh and got a lot out of the week, even if the guys didn’t much!