Conference urges leaders to regain spiritual passion

“If we’re going to develop spiritual leaders, we need to be deeply in love with Jesus,” Chuck Lawless said.

He urged participants in the KNCSB Normative Church Conference to regain their passion for Jesus.

The Normative Church Conference is designed for leaders in smaller-membership churches. It was held April 22-23 at Webster Conference Center, Salina, Kan.

Lawless was the featured speaker for the event. He is vice president of Graduate Studies and Ministries at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. Visit his Web site

The meeting also featured a special appearance by Gracia Burnham. She and her husband, Martin, were held captive in the Philippines for more than a year in the early 2000s. Martin died in the firefight that resulted in Gracia’s release.

Gracia Burnham is a member of Metro East Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan. To learn more about her ministry, visit her Web site

“Developing Spiritual Leaders” was the retreat theme. Lawless spoke from the Gospel of Mark which shows patterns in God’s work:

  • “Jesus shows up.
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  • “He teaches like no one has ever taught.
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  • As a result, “people are astonished.”
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  • “People talk about Him and spread His fame.”


Part of his emphasis during the retreat was to help church leaders regain their passion for Christ so they can develop spiritual leaders.

“Our job is to go speak about Jesus even if our names are never recorded in the story,” Lawless said.

Lawless offered these tips for developing spiritual leaders:

  • Know people. “You’re not going to raise up leaders in your church unless you know your people.”
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  • Recruit potential leaders face to face.
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  • Work with a few people. Follow Jesus’ example as he worked with his 12 disciples.
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  • Keep a strong passion for Christ. Pastors need such a strong passion for Christ that “people want to be on board.”
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  • Remember you’re a sinner and work with sinners.


During his final teaching session Lawless spoke from Mark 9 on “Living between the Mountain and the Valley. Jesus took Peter, James and John up on a high mountain to pray, and He was transfigured.

“When was the last time you took a few of your leaders and all you did was pray?” Lawless asked. “Prayer puts us in a position for God to work in us.”

He also emphasized the need to pray constantly instead of waiting until tough times come.

“What we must learn to do is to pray proactively, not reactively.”

Spiritual leaders need to keep going to the mountaintop in order to minister effectively in the valley, Lawless continued.

“If you stay in the valley long enough you will lose the power of God in your life.

“To get back to the mountain, don’t do it alone.” Find someone to hold you accountable and ask people to pray for you regularly.