|(Pear tree, in my neighbor's back yard.)|
Americans measure success metrically. Churches that have conformed to American culture do the same. The American success questions are:
How big is your building?
How many attend on Sunday mornings?
How large is your budget?
Many pastors evaluate their ministry metrically. At times, I've succumbed to that too.
The problem with this is: metrics do not indicate the real strength of a church. Remember the early church. No buildings. Small group meetings in homes. Virtually no budget. Little infrastructure to maintain. Non-programmatic. Costs no money to be a disciple. A band of praying people who have learned to abide in Christ. Think of the church, today, in China.
In John 14-16 Jesus tells his disciples that the key to his ministry is that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. He instructs them to live in him. To abide, to dwell, to "remain" (Greek meno) in him. To be like a branch that is constantly attached to Jesus, the Vine. Then, and only then, will they "bear much fruit."
The indicator of church strength is its fruit-bearing capacity.
Disconnected branches bear no fruit. (Jesus says this.)
The real strength of a church is its connected branches.
My task, as a pastor, is to equip God's people for the works of ministry. The beginning of this is helping people get connected. Without that, bad things happen (no real fruit). Jesus says, "Toss those branches into the bonfire."
Pastors - would you rather have a small group of connected branches, or a pile of disconnected people? Maybe just twelve? Twelve connected branches could change the world, right? They could change your community.