Learn Across Cultures at the 2021 European Leadership Forum
The annual church leadership training initiative takes place online this May. Here are three ways you can get involved.
For some years, leaders from FIEC churches have been attending, learning, and serving as part of the European Leadership Forum. It’s an annual initiative to train leaders from across Europe that the church might be strengthened, and bonds of fellowship built across the continent.
I’ve been helping out for just three years, but it’s been a real privilege to serve young leaders from across Europe. I’ve learnt a lot and built up some close friendships.
One great disappointment, however, is that more UK leaders don’t take advantage of the training available. There are all kinds of reasons for that: we are more tribal than many parts of the church in Europe; some (sadly) have a kind of evangelical imperialism that prevents them from learning in these kinds of environments; we may feel there are plenty of UK options to tap into.
This last point is undoubtedly true, but it neglects to take account of the great benefit that learning across cultures and across the continent can bring.
It exposes us to different ways of thinking, different issues, different people. It forces us to think more clearly about our own convictions. It is more likely, dare I say, to reveal our blind spots.
All of these – and more – are good reasons to get involved. Here’s how.
The conference is online this year, rather than in a Polish ski resort, so access is easy. The dates are Saturday 15 – Thursday 20 May.
To attend you must be a church leader and apply to join a network. Each Network is designed for a specific group of Christian leaders who have specific needs and backgrounds which will dictate which track you attend on the Forum.
There’s a Foundation track for those who have not attended before (run by me) and a track for leaders of networks and organisations (run by John Stevens and Jen Charteris). And there are tracks for women in ministry, preachers, church planters, church leaders, revitalisation, evangelism, youth leaders, communication… the list goes on. These could be really good options for someone in your church.
Sponsor a young, European leader
Many European leaders, especially those from the East, don’t have access to funds to attend training.
The local church of which I am part has for some years sponsored a student as part of our mission giving. It’s a really good way to get behind a worthwhile initiative in Europe and build links across the continent. Would you consider it?
Consider a year-round mentoring programme
These programmes are broadly organised into the same categories as the Networks and are an excellent way to get some input over a sustained period. Both John and I (and previously Phil Walter, who used to serve as FIEC’s Revitalisation Co-ordinator) have enjoyed and benefitted from being part of this programme too.
It’s all too easy for us to become parochial and introspective as church leaders, and the pandemic may well have exacerbated that. But God has placed us where we are - including in a particular local, regional, national, and continental geography.
Let’s reflect God's kind providence and get stuck in. It will do us all good.
You can find out more and register for the Forum on the European Leadership Forum website.