Pastors Conference: Manhood, the Church, and Growing Leaders

Day two of Desiring God ministry's annual conference continued at the Minneapolis Convention Center Tuesday with author and speaker Darrin Patrick, who spoke about building and training men for local missions, in a culture where many males are stuck in arrested development.

Patrick's book Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission explores how in today's society a growing number of males prolong their adolescence, choosing instead to live between childhood and adulthood.

The theme of his book tied in to that of the conference, which is exploring the leadership role of men in both ministry and culture, titled: "God, Manhood & Ministry – Building Men for the Body of Christ."

Patrick used the book of Galatians as the context for his talk on manhood and how the church can go about building leaders. The Apostle Paul writes in chapter five that, "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free." The question men are asking these days, Patrick said, is: "How can I be free?"

The answer is that "spiritual fruit equals spiritual freedom, and spiritual freedom equals biblical masculinity," he said.

But often men who are searching for this spiritual freedom look for it in the wrong places. They think if they just obey their heart they will be free. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, they believe if they just do their best, and follow the rules that will set them free, Patrick noted.

This type of legalism is wrong, and "undercuts justification and sanctification," he explained. Instead, men must understand the idea that God changes us as we obey Him. The fact that He "wants to produce something through us is the most masculine thing in the Bible," and that is the answer to freedom.

But this growth, and producing fruit, "comes in counterintuitive ways," the lead pastor of The Journey further outlined. Fruit grows very painfully because there is a "civil war going on inside of us. We want to please God and obey, but we fall short."

Many Christians have told him, "I hate it that I don't change faster, why can't I change?"

To which Patrick replies, "Welcome to Christianity. It is a struggle. You desire, but you come up short. There is conviction and repentance. That is a sign you are a believer. It is a sign of the Spirit's presence in your life."

While fruit grows painfully, it also grows gradually. He told pastors in the audience that they are sometimes too hard on themselves, that they should be focused on sin and getting rid of it in their lives, but they should also focus on being "joy-filled with the work of God in your life."

"Fruit grows communally" even if it does grow slowly. It is only in an environment of brotherhood, where people are bearing each other's burdens, that growth will happen, he stressed.

Men have to have other guys around "that aren't impressed with you. Guys that know your junk," he told fellow pastors. But they also have to be "men who are surgeons, not butchers. There is a carefulness to it (accountability)."

"You are going to grow by following Jesus with others. You belong to Christ, and you will crucify your flesh once you understand what Paul is talking about" in Galatians.

The conference continued Wednesday with a talk from Ramez Atallah, as well as a panel discussion from all of the featured speakers at the event. Doug Wilson and John Piper are ending the conference with a talk on "The Supremacy of Christ in All of Life: The Pastor and His Worldview." All the talks can be seen via a live webcast at