I was blessed enough to attend the Acts 29 Healthy Leaders Conference in Dallas over the weekend. It was a very encouraging and thought-provoking experience. Because of the faithful leaders invited to speak and teach, I was able to walk away reminded of three key principles that protect and propel healthy church leaders.
Healthy leaders need a heart-shattering and sober understanding of sin
The reality is this: broken and sinful people (that is — all people) severely need the gospel. It is the difference between life and death. Either people are left dead in their sins or they are, by God’s grace, made alive in Jesus. Either their desires end them or Jesus performs a heart transplant. Either people perish or they bear fruit. This means that leaders called by God are not suggested to participate in his mission to crush sin and reconcile all things to himself, but are explicitly commanded to bleed black that mission day in and day out. They are not permitted to feel indifferent about the very poison that infects and kills those created in God’s image. They are not to coddle that which ultimately brought death to His son. Rather, healthy leaders are to be ferociously heartbroken over the fallenness of this world — laboring unapologetically to preach Jesus, make disciples, and plant gospel saturated churches for the glory of God and the good of his people.
Healthy leaders need a radical trust in the sovereignty of God
Without a robust understanding of Gods sovereignty, we cannot confidently go where God has called us to go. We cannot face the sin that perverts and destroys our lives and the lives of our people. If we don’t understand that God holds all things in his hand, we are attempting to survive high-risk missions without firearms and medical supplies. We are helpless. God creates the heart change, God grows the Church and kills the church, God gives life and takes it away. God is in control and he is outrageously good. This realization is what drove Doug Logan, a church planter in one of the most dangerous cities in America, to exclaim with authority, “If you get hit with a bullet, trust that it’s God’s bullet!” God’s mission is to make much of His son Jesus, and he invites us to play ball. He doesn’t need us, but in his loving and undeserving grace, he wants us!
Healthy leaders need other healthy leaders
“If there was one sin that would undo you, disqualify you from ministry, what would it be?”, a church planter asked in one of our break out sessions, “name it and talk about it with a brother sitting next you”. This was a profound and heart-wrenching question. We were asked to identify a potential moral failing and reverse engineer our lives based on that moral failing. This was emboldening in many ways, and also very scary. It was emboldening because this church planting organization encouraged transparency, understood the weight of our sin, and wasn’t afraid to confront us as men desiring to plant churches to God’s glory. It was scary because I had to face the reality that I am a broken sinner in need of Gods grace just like everyone else. I say all of that to say, healthy leaders need a community of people around them willing to fight with them and for them.