Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12) ...........“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5)
Clearly, Jesus has planned for us to do great things and bear much fruit in our lives as well as our ministries. Fruitfulness is the bottom line. Either we are bearing fruit (showing results) or we are not. If we are not bearing fruit (or showing results) we need to ask ourselves why.
I think some people grow so fond of their systems or practices (i.e., the way we do things) that they begin to see mere activity as the measure of success, rather than the fruit that is being manifested.
Take evangelism & outreach for example. Last year someone left our church because he wanted to find another church that “did more outreach.” I said, “You’ve got to be kidding! We baptized more than forty five people last year, most of them new converts, and many of those same people are now on a spiritual growth track towards discipleship.” Isn’t that the fruit of outreach? Sure it is. Yet this person overlooked this fact and left anyway. I think he was more interested in the “practices” of outreach than the results. I’m certain he is very busy in a small church somewhere doing outreach, but I’m also certain he won’t see the kind of fruit that he was a part of at PCC. There is a difference between simply being busy and being fruitful.
Take small groups as another example. The goal of small groups is not just to have small groups. The goal is to make disciples, experience fellowship, and get connected to a community of faith. So we ask ourselves: “How is that best achieved? Can we bear the same fruit another way?” Has our previous system bore any long lasting fruit?” You get the idea. No matter how cute our mission statements are, no matter how clever our methodology is, and no matter how desperate we are to see our programs work, the goal is to bear fruit. Nothing should be considered a sacred cow if it stands in the way manifesting fruit. In truth, disciples can be made without small groups, fog machines, cool lights, worship bands, and a continental breakfast. All that is needed is a Bible and a godly mentor. On the other hand, if these tools serve has vehicles towards discipleship then they are a good thing.
Consider any other ministry in the church, or all other ministries for that matter. We get used to doing things a certain way and don’t want to change. Andy Stanley says, “We love our plans because we are the ones who implemented them, and we continue to protect them ever after they no longer work.” We have to be more flexible than that.
Companies go out of business all the time because they continue to embrace a failed business strategy, and churches plateau or decline for the same reason…. we love our methods or systems more than we love results.