Acts 29 is a single issue network, to be “churches who plant churches”. The longer I am in ministry the more I am convinced that in order to plant healthy churches we must first have healthy leaders who are planting healthy groups. Healthy groups are a microcosm of a healthy church. It is planting churches on a smaller level. It is where I believe leaders can grow, be developed and sent out to plant healthy churches. So, what then does it take to be a strong leader of a group? My encouragement to all current or aspiring leaders is to BE YOU and BE CONVICTED.
To become a strong leader, you must Be You. Most leaders who are stepping into a new leadership role, especially young leaders, attempt to be like a previous, successful leader. Though it isn’t wrong to be emulate practices of a successful leader, pressing into who God has made you to be will be crucial in your strength as a leader. Being you is when the Spirit of God moves, trust is built with those you are leading and you will allow others to be who they are created to be.
Leadership is birthed out of conviction. Part of being formed into the image of Christ is to have Jesus’ convictions become your convictions. The formation of the Spirit will happen around our convictions and it is important to be intentional with them. I am convinced that strong leaders will grow strong groups when a leader is convicted to lead others, convicted to empower others, and finally and most importantly convicted about Jesus.
CONVICTED TO LEAD: Out of insecurity, many people are willing to take the title of leader but not willing to lead. A person who is convicted to lead will risk going ahead of those they are leading, be vulnerable, and take responsibility for themselves and those they lead. It isn’t easy to truly lead. It is often lonely. You are quickly criticized for your weaknesses. A healthy group needs a leader who is convicted to lead.
CONVICTED TO EMPOWER OTHERS: Jesus entrusted God’s mission to God’s people. We must do the same. It is often easier to have a safe group that revolves around a good conversation about the Bible. Groups (and churches for that matter) that revolve around one person are not healthy. Over time I have seen though that Jesus wasn’t about immediate fruit. He was about the mission of God over time reaching the ends of the earth. This happened through empowering others. As leaders we must trust the people of God with the mission of God, and empower other people to be who God made them to be. As difficult and messy as this is, you will grow as a leader and grow other leaders.
CONVICTED ABOUT JESUS: Finally leaders must be convicted about Jesus. The ironic part of Christian leadership is that when the pressure starts we rely on self over Jesus. We are tempted to pull it all together in an effort to lead God’s people. If we can do the hard work, having Jesus continually at the forefront of our lives and leadership, we will see change. And yet we may (no, we will!) still fail sometimes, and when we do, we can either work hard to try to recover our image or we can make Jesus great in our lives. It is only when we are convicted about Jesus will we be able to have the strength to make Him great.
Jason presented this material at Engage 2017, Acts 29 US West’s annual conference. You can read posts from other speakers at Engage on our blog.