Chris Mountford spoke with Lloyd Cooke about a major transformation conference taking place in June

Lloyd Cooke
Lloyd Cooke

On June 25th-27th a major conference will take place in Stoke-on-Trent with Argentinian church leader Ed Silvoso coming to the city as the main speaker at an event which will generate national level interest.

Ed Silvoso is a highly influential and respected leader with a particular emphasis and understanding on how the church can bring about transformation in society through engaging in the marketplace. He is recognised for his ministry and teaching on 'Discipling nations', 'Reclaiming the marketplace', 'Seeing work as worship', 'Using the power of God to overcome evil in everyday situations', and 'Eliminating systemic poverty'.

Chris Mountford spoke with event organiser Lloyd Cooke to find out more.

Chris: Tell me a bit about Transformation and this conference that you're organising.

Lloyd: Transformation is really taking some of the important values that the church has been grappling with over the last 10 or 12 years here in the city and focusing them on this conference. It's really about how the church turns itself inside out. Whilst the church is always concerned about the things it does; its worship, its care, its prayer, the church increasingly is aware of its need to be good news to the city; to be good news to the communities that it serves. This conference is really about reminding the church and Christians of the opportunities that there are to help transform society. In some ways much of the message will be new to some people, but won't be necessarily new to everyone because so many of us are committed to trying to transform our city and our communities.

Chris: Could you sum up how over the last few years you've seen the church try to do that here in Stoke-on-Trent.

Lloyd: I think what's happened is that the church has got confidence to go and be salt and light out in what we might call the marketplace; by marketplace I just mean where people find themselves Monday to Friday. It's not just about church on Sunday, it's about how does the church help and support the business community or the health service or education or politics or law and order. How do Christians go out there and make a difference? How do we support other people of goodwill? This conference, with our guest speaker Dr Ed Silvoso and a number of other important speakers from around the UK will really be about saying, how can we transform our communities? How can we take what many of us have been working at to the next level? This is really a next level conference. We've done well so far, but we're looking for more.

Chris: Tell me a bit about Dr. Ed Silvoso.

Lloyd: He is originally from Argentina and is now based in the US. I remember hearing Ed speak about 20 years ago when he was talking about how we go about reaching men and women with the good news of Jesus. How do we communicate the gospel well? He's since taken that message and he's developed it into a whole focus on trying to transform not just communities and not just towns and cities, but the question could we transform a nation? The great thing that he has is loads of great examples of how other Christians around the world are seeing some significant breakthroughs. How people are seeing business impacted; their local councils impacted; how communities are being changed around the world, because there is some really good news in different continents. We're seeing people coming to faith in numbers never seen before. We're seeing miracles, but we're seeing again the transformation of society. We are inviting him to come and share those stories to inspire us to say it can be done; to challenge us about how we might focus our efforts; but ultimately what I'm hoping, is that there'll almost be what I might call a divine exchange. That it's not just about a message, but it's actually trying to hear from God and hoping that this conference might be something of a tipping point; that out of it we just don't learn some things from a really godly and able teacher, but actually we might receive a blessing from God to actually go and do more and to see more fruit in our towns and cities.

Chris: He's quite influential and very well known in different parts of the world, how is it that he's coming here to Stoke-on-Trent?

Lloyd: He came to the UK 20 years ago and since then has been back from time to time. He was last in the UK a couple of years ago, but hasn't been since. We've been working with his organisation, talking with them; they're really keen on doing a national conference. When we asked the question, where should this national conference be hosted, they'd heard some good things about Stoke-on-Trent and decided that Stoke would be a great place. I'm delighted that the people from around the UK will come to Stoke-on-Trent, but I'm even more delighted that for the church here in the city and in the wider North Staffs conurbation we get the chance to host this premiership conference with this really significant speaker and what will hopefully be a very significant event.

Chris: Do you feel that in terms of the church working inside out and reaching out to its communities that the city has almost been leading the way in terms of this in the nation?

Lloyd: Some people would say that and I think for those of us who live and work here in the city we'd probably be more cautious about that. I know as I travel around the UK people hear stories of Stoke-on-Trent and of some of the things that God has done through Christians, through churches, through Christian organisations like Cross Rhythms and are actually looking to us to say, wow, we're getting some real inspiration from things we see in Stoke. We know that there is a long way to go, but it's always great when other people comment positively on things they see. I'm delighted, I think that it's a great honour that the city hosts this event and if we can help and encourage others then I'm only too delighted to do so.

Chris: Who else is involved as well as Ed Silvoso?