Along with Pete and Sarah Benton, Kat and I had the privilege of attending this year’s New Ground European Young Leader’s Conference held in Melun, France (a town roughly an hour by train south of Paris). With the conference beginning on Friday evening, we decided to travel to Paris a day early to take in some of the city as none of us had visited before. I have to say – it’s a fantastic city! We stayed in a small but lovely apartment very close to Montmartre, and managed to visit the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur Basilica, The Louvre (only the grounds), Notre Dame, Institut de Monde Arabe, along with taking some time out to relax and eat a few Crêpes!

When the time came for us to head outside of Paris for the conference, we were treated to free rail travel (due to the excess pollution in the city) which was unexpected but very welcome! We were picked up from the station by a friendly man named John, who was one of the many people there who were bilingual. The traffic around Paris was absolute turmoil, meaning that many were late for the start of the first meeting – a shame for them as we began with great worship (sung in French and English), some fun ‘ice-breaker’ type games (which Pete WON!) and Dave Holden speaking brilliantly and urging us to ‘keep our bags packed’.

After a well-received sleep, Day Two kicked off with a continental breakfast (they drink coffee out of bowls in France!!) followed by session two, in which we heard from Sam Rolland (in French – interpreted into English) who leads La Recontre Church in Rennes. He spoke fantastically on listening to God’s calling for our lives, then acting on it. One of many (strong) coffee breaks followed (this time out of cups, not bowls) and we then heard from Nathan Lambert (who is currently based in Sidcup with Dave Holden) on what Radical Leadership looks like (being a leader before God rather than before men).

In the afternoon we had some free time, then a Q & A session with 3 couples who were involved in leading the conference: Dave & Liz Holden, Nathan & Beki Lambert, Sam & Emma Rolland plus Chris Taylor (who leads Redeemer International Church in The Hague).They answered questions across a wide range of topics, but many were centred around Church Planting. Our evening meeting was lead by Chris Taylor (aka Gerard Butler), who brought a fantastic sermon on Leadership, looking at the Father’s heart and being a steward/servant. Although all the speakers were great, I personally found Chris’ message incredibly powerful and thought provoking. Some ministry time followed, in which we prayed for each other; specifically on issues that hold us back from stepping into opportunities to lead.

Before our trip home on Sunday evening, there was still time to hear a final message from Dave on Calling in Leadership, and to pray for the nations. It was so great to hear his encouraging and equipping words, and was an excellent finish to an awesome weekend.

A BIG thank you to Nathan and team who organised and lead the conference. And an equally big thank you to the folks at JCC for enabling us to attend!

Ricky Gunter

Paris Gunter