Having just returned from the HTB Leadership Conference in London my heart is full from the experience of being there. I think it’s the breadth of diversity combined with a consistent ability to deliver at the highest level that is so impressive. And the venue of course helps – the Royal Albert Hall has to be amongst the most prestigious of our national venues. That said, the same Conference in any setting would work for me and here’s why – it delivers substance over style in bucket loads

But what of the diversity. The range of talks speaks volumes of the organisers intention to work at cultivating unity across the Church. Roman Catholic Cardinals speak alongside Pentecostal Preachers and all come with an openness to learn from each other. There is humility that is deeper than simple lip service. Equally, they are not afraid to bring in the best educators in their field and will happily draw from the market place when required as noted by an exceptional talk from Simon Sinek who has the third most listened to TED talk with over 23 million views.

Marcus Mumford’s interview of two remarkable women working for reconciliation and forgiveness in contexts beyond horrific not only highlighted Mumford’s heart as a Christ follower but also his passion to walk the pathway of Jesus into some of the most broken places in our world. He is skilled as a communicator and gifted as a musician but his desire to walk amongst suffering showed that fame can be used in a positive manner when held in the right hands.

HTB is of course the home of Alpha – the single most used mission resource of a generation and it keeps getting stronger. It’s recently been re branded and styled so as to be released for a changing world and shaped to fit easily into the format of our culture. Topical, contemporary and familiar its working at every level with over 9000 churches in the UK alone having used it as a tool of mission but its reach is far wider. From the many nations represented Alpha is truly a global tool in the hands of local churches internationally.

The two days passed at a pace with some frantic note taking along the way and not a few coffees shared amongst the six of us who attended from Hope! But it wasn’t the notes that I came away with but the spirit of the gathering that left the greatest impression which was well captured by many of the speakers and most succinctly in the words of Bear Grylls on the Alpha promotional video reminding us of both the heart and vision behind Christian Leadership – ‘If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.’