Elizabeth Culhane reports on the recent EFAC Emerging Leaders Conference

So began EFAC Australia’s Emerging Leaders Conference, held in Melbourne from 21-23 September 2014. Twenty-seven young leaders from around the country met to discuss the opportunities and challenges of being Christian leaders and Anglicans in twenty-first century Australia.

In the morning Bible studies, Tim Johnson helped us to consider the gifts and limitations of the two emerging leaders on view in 1 Samuel 9: Saul and Samuel. Our attention was drawn to the fact that it was a servant, not Saul, who consults and relies upon God for wisdom (1Samuel  9:6), foreshadowing the later issues in Saul’s leadership. Saul’s CV would have looked good, Tim remarked, but did he display the godly character required for leadership? Accordingly, do we choose leaders on the latter basis? Tim reminded us that godliness is essential for spiritual leadership (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-13).

The Conference was an excellent mixture of formal content, informal learning, and networking. We visited local churches and glimpsed the many different forms of Anglican ministry within Melbourne.

Andrew Katay spoke on how to think biblically about leadership, challenging us to consider it as broader than preaching and praying alone. Leadership has to move beyond just completing tasks, argued Katay. Instead, we need to consider our theology of church and discipleship, and how best to bring this vision to fruition with God’s help. He highlighted the necessity, for leaders, of reading  books such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, and encouraged us to refrain from referring to the church where we work as “my church”, but rather as “Jesus' church”.

In Adam Lowe’s workshop we listed our views of the opportunities, challenges and sources of encouragement in our local churches and the Anglican Communion as a whole. Adam artfully categorised and graphed the results before we met in groups to discuss the most frequently nominated challenges.

The delegates’ chief local challenges were making and maturing disciples and healthy church communities, whereas our primary sources of encouragement were seeing faith in action, evangelism and mission, and encouraging co-workers. In regards to the Anglican Communion, delegates’ chief concerns were theological heterodoxy and uncertainty about Anglican identity.

Stephen Hale then gave an excellent address on  how to live as an Anglican in the Church’s ‘Cross-Over Era’ from institutional and societal prominence to a more marginal position. [See page 2]

Delegates’ learning was also greatly enriched by evangelist Lindsay Brown’s lecture on the current status of world mission, and by Julie-Anne Laird who encouraged ministers to lead by example in evangelism. In addition, we spent time praying for our churches, Australia, the world, and each other.

The Conference was superbly organised by Adam Cetrangolo, along with Adam Lowe and Stephen Hale. EFAC’s 2014 Emerging Leaders Conference was a resounding success, and I would highly recommend anyone nominated to take up the opportunity to attend next time.

Elizabeth Culhane studies theology at Ridley Melbourne, and enjoys reading, writing and cake-eating.
She tweets at twitter.com/e_culhane