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Photo: European Leadership Forum

Over 500 representatives of evangelical churches and organizations gathered in Poland for the 20th annual European Leadership Forum. The invitation-only forum was held in the town of Wisla on May 21-26, 2022.

After two years of online Forums due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Christian leaders from 41 countries met once again in person for a series of specialized training, mentorship and networking, reports Evangelical Focus.

The mission of the European Leadership (ELF) is to unite, equip, and resource Evangelical leaders to renew the biblical church and evangelize Europe. The six-day gathering was filled with activities designed to meet the various needs of participants that will be helpful in their home countries.

ELF offers a community for like-minded leaders to network, engage with one another and get practical tools for growth in ministry. —Wojciech Kowalewski, President of Golden Apple Institute in Poland

Attendees were grouped into 25 small learning communities called Networks, which focused on a wide variety of areas including Bible teaching, youth ministry, church planting, arts, and fundraising. Networks were designed to address issues of specific groups of Christian leaders.

ELF encourages building friendships and creating a network among Evangelical leaders. The organizers provided a multitude of opportunities for participants to meet old and new friends and discuss issues among fellow believers. There was an Expo that connected attendees with Christian organizations and universities, and Culture Night that celebrated God through art, music, and performance. Experts from various fields of study led more than 300 sessions and workshops focused on Bible teaching, faith in the time of science, and other topics relevant in evangelization.

Speakers at ELF included Jamie Rasmussen, Senior Pastor of Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, AZ; John Stevens, National Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches; and Daryl McCarthy, Director of the European Academic Network and the Cambridge Scholars Network.

Peter J. Williams, Principal and CEO of Tyndale House, Cambridge, emphasized the importance of ELF. “We’re all short of time. We’re all short of resources. It’s madness for us not to share our best practices and to get to know each other.” He added, “It’s crazy that on such a small continent we wouldn’t be sharing the knowledge, the relationships, the personal connections that we have. The Forum encourages that better than anything else I know.”

War on Ukraine
The war on Ukraine was discussed during the first night of the forum. Jaroslaw Lukasik, leader of the Eastern European Leadership Forum, shared the efforts being done in support of Ukrainians. In an interview with Stefan Gustavsson, member of the ELF steering committee, Lukasik revealed that churches in Ukraine are active in helping those affected by the war. “Many Christians help evacuate people from dangerous places. Churches have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

Reports say 14 million people are displaced from Ukraine and many have crossed the borders in neighbor countries—Poland has taken in at least 2.8 million refugees. “At the beginning of the war, churches functioned as hospitals. It is also a great opportunity to give spiritual help to people, because people really want to pray now. War is a situation where you face evil, and then you need love,” Lukasik affirmed.

Experiences
Participants welcomed the chance to discuss issues and engage in conversations with others. After two years of seeing fellow believers only on the screen, the 2022 Forum was a revitalizing change in strengthening faith and relationships.

Wojciech Kowalewski, President of Golden Apple Institute in Poland, said, “It is always good to come to ELF. It is so much more than just an excellent conference. ELF offers a community for like-minded leaders to network, engage with one another and get practical tools for growth in ministry.”

Timo Heimlich, leader of Church Planting Catalyst in Germany, was grateful for the teachings and fellowship at ELF. “Long talks in the evenings, meals and worship together, meeting not only new people but also their friends and colleagues – this is all something that has been missing for some years. While I appreciate the quality content from experienced trainers now as much as during the online ELFs, it was definitely good to again feel part of the three-dimensional body of Christ in Europe.”

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