What did this word mean earlier this week in Poland?


What one word best describes what happened at the ELF Artist Network?

The word is COMMUNITY. But what does that mean?

C for Creativity – Each of our participants exudes creativity. Some brought their paintings as others played their instruments and sang their songs. We were continually surprised by the depth and richness of the art.

O for Openness – Most of our sessions included several minutes of small group discussions. We were not just interested in filling people’s minds but in learning from one another.

M for Music – Our network room was filled with musicians, so we gave many the chance to engage one another with their talents. On the last day, we all sang “O Happy Day” while 6 pianists lined up and spontaneously played the accompaniments, each revealing their unique styles. And, if you have ever heard Reinis Zarins play piano you know how incredible his late-night concert was.

M for Mentoring – One could say that mentoring is the point of ELF. All of us leaders long to see the next generation not only grasp foundational biblical and theological concepts, but encourage, advise, and disciple one another. As the artists shared about the benefits of this week, the words ‘mentoring’ and ‘gratefulness’ were often used in the same sentence.

U for Understanding – Some of our presenters were specialists in topics few of us are exposed to. For example, Rodica Mocan is a professor in New Media Arts who understands the latest trends of artificial intelligence (AI) and opened our eyes to see what’s to come. Liviu Mocan, a world-renowned sculptor, unpacked the meaning of a 14 th Century sculpture created in Prague: “St. George and the Dragon.” He explained the underlying story and the profound danger that all believers encounter when the dragon (the enemy of our souls) attacks us openly and covertly. Powerful lesson.

N for Networking – Some people attend major conferences to sit in the lecture sessions and seminars and fill their notebooks. But I have always understood that the most important lessons learned, and opportunities presented take place in the breakfast room, hallways, around café tables, and in private conversations. What results can lead to wonderful partnerships, projects, and visionary initiatives.

I for Innovation – Change is another word that implies innovation. Creativity is connected to change at the hip. The late Sir Ken Robinson was quoted by a presenter: “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” Creativity is not only needed in the world of art but in every other category of life. Hence, we were all encouraged to consider how our creativity makes life better for those around us and also in the church and society.

T for Togetherness – Our final prayer illustrated how 25 artists and musicians could joyfully pray with one another. We stood in a circle holding hands and prayed in the manner of some youth groups. It was called alphabet praise. We went around the room and each one was assigned to pray for something beginning with the letters of the alphabet, beginning with ‘a’. I really liked what ensued. Each one prayed with thoughtfulness in a multiplicity of languages: Slovenian, Romanian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Bosnia, Serbian, Swedish, and Polish. It was beautiful. Guess what happened when the person who was supposed to pray for something started with ‘z’? He couldn’t think of anything and finally blurted out praise to God for the Zulus!

Y for Youthfulness – One of the great ministry leadership ministry challenges of our day is successfully engaging the next generation. Hurray!!! Most of our artists were new to ELF and about half of them were in their 20s or 30s. And they were eager, all saying they want to participate again next year.

What does COMMUNITY MEAN? It means everything above and so much, much more.