Before becoming a pastor, I managed an automobile dealership which involved spending a good portion of my time training and leading sales people. At least once a week, there was a sales meeting with demonstrations, stories, times of sharing and teaching moments. I always wanted the meeting to be motivational and stimulating but…
The meeting itself could never be the end of my job. No sales transactions took place during a meeting. The real work of selling automobiles was in what happened next. If sales did not consistently happen, no matter how successful the meeting, the ultimate result was failure.
You may be tempted to raise your hand at this point and say, “Wait a minute! Are you trying to compare your sales meetings with church attendance? No way! Church should never be thought of as a sales meeting or a business.” Absolutely true!
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we attend church to help us better connect with God and that in itself is vitally important… but.
God designed us for a purpose, for a mission. We also attend church worship services, join Bible studies and small groups to discover God’s purpose for our lives and receive the teaching, encouragement and God given stimulation we need to carry out that purpose and fulfill our mission.
What if nothing happens? What if we still don’t know our mission? What if after years of attending worship services and Bible studies, we are still the same people as before with little spiritual growth or passion for serving the God who gave us a purpose?
Then it shouldn’t be surprising if we are unable to convince others to join us in attending the same worship services and Bible studies that seem to outsiders to have no impact, produce no visible change or offer no helpful answers to the problems they face.
Why would someone want to attend a church where “nothing much” happens?
Ouch! This hurts! As my mother often said before a spanking: “It hurts me worse than you!”
Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) This is an important command and promise. The command is to first focus on deepening your relationship with Jesus Christ followed by a promise that you will bear much fruit.
But in verse 16, Jesus explains what it means to bear fruit: “You didn’t choose me. Remember; I chose you and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.” (John 15:16)
“You didn’t choose me, I chose you…” Teaches about the sovereignty of God.
“I put you in the world to bear fruit…” Speaks to our purpose, our mission.
“…fruit that won’t spoil.” A promise that our purpose and mission is eternal.
“As fruit bearers, whatever you ask…” Reminder of the potential power backing us up.
We were chosen by God with a purpose to bear fruit, fruit that will be everlasting and will never spoil. We serve a God who backs us up in the midst of struggles and provides what is needed for our mission.
As a sales manager and trainer, I learned that the meeting itself could never be the end. The real work was in what happened next. Knowing this….
Our worship services, Bible studies, small groups and other church related activities should both strengthen our connection with God and help us discover our purpose; to provide the guidance and motivation we need to enable us in fulfilling our mission and bearing much fruit, fruit that will never spoil.
In other words, the real work of the church is in what happens next.
Next week: Church: Searching for Purpose and Bearing Fruit