Hours before Jesus was arrested, He gave His disciples—and us—an imperative to glorify God:
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:8)
We can’t always see the fruit that God is bringing about through our witnessing efforts, but we can always remain committed to planting and watering gospel seeds.
We can’t always see the fruit that God is bringing about through our witnessing efforts, but we can always remain committed to planting and watering gospel seeds. Click To Tweet
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Over the years, our church has placed an emphasis on fruit bearing. Our annual Spiritual Leadership Conference is hosted to encourage spiritual, servant, and soulwinning leadership. West Coast Baptist College’s mission statement is “Training Laborers for His Harvest.” (This coming Monday, we’ll graduate our twenty-seventh class from WCBC, and I ask you to pray for them that they will be faithful to the cause of bearing fruit for Christ. If you’re able, join us for the Commencement on May 2.)
In my own life and in our ministry, I have tried to emphasize not only bearing fruit, but, as Jesus further instructed His disciples, bearing fruit that remains.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)
Sometimes churches approach a special day like Easter Sunday as a one-and-done outreach opportunity. They invest tremendous effort into inviting guests and preaching the gospel and then let the day pass with no real follow up.
It’s so important, however, that we engage new converts in ongoing discipleship, biblical preaching, and getting grounded in their faith. I have written before with tips and methods of how our church attempts to do this, but I would like to share here what kind of church maintains this type of focus.
Here are three characteristics that I continually pray for our church to sustain:
1. A Church with a Heart for God
All genuine ministry begins with our personal walk with Christ.All genuine ministry begins with our personal walk with Christ. Click To Tweet
If you are emphasizing the doing of ministry and never the being of Jesus’ disciple, you may bear fruit, but both you and your fruit are likely to be short term.
Before Jesus told His disciples that they could glorify God by bearing fruit that remains, He called them to abide in Him.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
No Christian wants to wash out in their testimony or fruitfulness. But we so easily drift from abiding in Christ. It is only as we purposefully and passionately follow Him that we will bear lifelong fruit for Him.
2. A Church with Heavenly Affection
Our affections are always being pulled in one or another direction. This is why God instructs us to purposefully set our affections above.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1–2)
We all have to fight the idolatry of self. Bearing fruit isn’t about us—how successful we appear to others. It is about Christ—glorifying Him.
A church with heavenly affection labors to please the Lord rather than the world. Churches that are accommodating to a love of self and love for the world have a tendency to adapt the world’s philosophies to their outreach and ministry. Our goal must never be to adapt to the world but to conform to Christ.Our goal must never be to adapt to the world but to conform to Christ. Click To Tweet
3. A Church with a Passion for Christ’s Mission
Jesus made His heart and His mission clear:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
Most of us shared a passion for this mission almost immediately after our salvation. One of the first responses of a new believer to the new birth is to share the gospel with someone else.
Over time, however, it’s easy for our passion to grow cold. It doesn’t matter how great our methods or procedures for bearing fruit are; if we don’t have passion, we won’t faithfully engage in them.It doesn’t matter how great our methods or procedures for bearing fruit are; if we don’t have passion, we won’t faithfully engage in them. Click To Tweet
When the Holy Spirit convicts you that your passion for souls has waned, ask Him for forgiveness and for a renewed heart for Him. Go back to John 15 and to a focus on abiding in Him, and ask Him to revive in you a desire to bear fruit for His glory.