In the past two weeks I have been in Vienna twice to participate in two EBF conferences.
The first of these was the EBF Younger Leaders’ Programme TRANSFORM held from 15-18 March. Present were six men and five women who had been identified by their Baptist Unions or Conventions as having gifts and potential to exercise leadership in a wider setting with an international dimension. The focus of this gathering was on discipleship and I contributed around themes of: less conventional biblical images of discipleship as leadership, the communal nature of discipleship, and the practices of discipleship. Perhaps a key theme which emerged through all of this was how we deal with and respect different cultural contexts which influence biblical interpretation.
After a few days back in Amsterdam I returned for the joint conference of EBF Mission and Evangelism Commission and Youth and Children Workers.
At this conference I had the task of ‘re-imagining’ discipleship, the Church, and mission. Of course whether what I offered was a re-imagining would depend upon how people imagined these things in the first place! On this again, contextual, cultural, and hermeneutical come into play. This said, I would suggest that re-imagining these issues begins by us not separating these issues, or arguing which one has priority, but rather by viewing them as integrated in the call, challenge, and grace of Jesus Christ which takes priority. In so far as we can talk about them separately I drew upon the work of the late Athol Gill to offer the biblical images of…Following Jesus, Friends for the Journey, and Engaging the Powers as perspectives from which to view discipleship, Church, and mission respectively. In viewing each on in this way one cannot really talk about them without reference to the others.
Part of the pleasure in being in Vienna was to see the great and developmental work being carried out by the Baptist Church there under the leadership of Walter Klimt and his team. To be honest they are embodying what I was talking about in a clear way. Below is Walter beginning the Conference speaking about Luke 4.