FEUER report

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Michael says:

We have just returned from the 9th annual FEUER (Fellowship of Evangelists in Universities across EuRope) conference for university evangelists. 100 current and potential evangelists gathered on a hotel boat in the centre of Prague for what was an inspiring weekend of teaching, learning, sharing, praying and dreaming together. Over the last 9 years this network has been responsible for many wonderful initiatives across the continent and a rediscovery of confidence in the public proclamation of the gospel. Nine years ago university mission weeks only took place in the U.K., Germany and Ireland. This year over 200 will take place in at least 35 different countries.


What is it that makes FEUER so special and so effective?


It’s deliberately small.


The number of delegates is limited to 100. This is partly because we couldn’t squeeze any more on to the boat, but there is a deeper reason. By keeping it small there is a real opportunity to get to know most of the other delegates, and also to spend time with the speakers. Normally a conference with a speaking team that includes Os Guinness, John Lennox, Becky Pippert, Michael Green and Lindsay Brown could attract many hundreds, if not thousands. But the aim of FEUER is not to be big but to be effective. None of the speakers spoke more than twice, which meant that they had lots of time to spend over meals chatting to the delegates.


It’s focused.  


FEUER has a clear aim – the public proclamation of the gospel in the universities of Europe. That’s not to say there aren’t other important areas of ministry that others do, but by being focused it means that all the delegates are involved in a similar ministry – making it very useful for networking, sharing and encouraging.


It combines ‘head and heart’.  


Sometimes evangelists can have a reputation for being somewhat superficial and sentimental. The 20th century preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones said that good preaching needs to touch the mind, the emotions, the conscience and the will. He went on to say that the danger of some preachers is to go for the mind and stop there – leading to dry academic sermons that have no impact. The danger for others is that they bypass the mind and go straight for the emotions – leading to emotional but superficial responses.  FEUER aims for both!


One new idea that has been developed over the past two years has been the gathering of an academic network among the FEUER evangelists. The idea is that they can open doors to gain access to speak within the university and work in partnership with other evangelists on mission. This has been especially fruitful in countries where it is very difficult to gain access. We heard a wonderful report of how several academics had been effectively used in this way in one country over the last year.


It encourages creativity in evangelism.


Lindsay Brown, director of the FEUER network, says that one of the big challenges of the church is to learn how to communicate a word-based message in a visually-saturated culture. While FEUER unashamedly exists to train preachers, it also encourages the use of creative elements, such as in music and drama, to supplement the spoken word. Over the weekend we saw many examples of this being being done effectively.


It recognises the value of personal work alongside public proclamation.


A new aspect of the FEUER conference this year was a track with Becky Pippert training people in small group and personal evangelism. This is is vital, both as a lead-in and follow-up to mission weeks. Public proclamation will be blunted where there is not also personal evangelism happening in tandem. It’s been really exciting to see how, through the tool of ‘Uncover’, students in many countries are better-equipped to follow up their friends who come to mission events.


It’s not so much a conference, but a movement.


A key part of the weekend is the sharing of reports from different countries. It’s wonderful to hear of what has happened since last year and how things are growing. This gives the whole weekend a sense of movement and energy. Its purpose is not simply to have a good weekend, but to be a catalyst for mission.


Its goal is the promotion of the gospel, not the promotion of an organisation.


While FEUER is a part of the European IFES movement, the delegates are not just staff of IFES. Many come from other organisations and churches. The need in Europe is so great that we need ‘all hands on deck’ – an appropriate term given that we were meeting on a boat!


It has been a catalyst for national and regional initiatives. 


One exciting area has been the development of several national training programmes for university evangelists. These have begun in Spain, Italy, Ukraine, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. This is important as the vast growth in mission weeks means an even greater need for local evangelists who can speak at them!

There have also been regional FEUER conferences held, that can draw more people together from a particular part of Europe, and focus more deeply on some of the specific challenges in that region. For example, we met over the weekend to plan such a gathering for the Nordic countries.


Praise God for all that he has done as a result of this gathering over the last 9 years, and pray for much more over the coming year and beyond. It is such a privilege to be a part of it.


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So encouraging. My parents and I were praying for this network just this week while we were on a camping holiday in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. I was explaining to them the vision of FEUER and why I pray for it.

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