Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?
Instant milk. That’s how a Brazilian friend recently portrayed the challenge of how our contemporary church culture often trains, and equips us to think about, and plan for results. We mix the powder with the water and voila – we have instant, pat-yourself-on-the-back results. In our instant-everything society, this is how we approach our lives, including ministry and discipleship. The ‘we need numbers for our next board meeting’ mentality, and our leaders ask the questions which help us formulate our approach: How many prayed the prayer, how many attend your fellowship, how many did you baptize? We’ve taken it so far as to expect it is the responsibility of the institutional Church to go make disciples, rather than the mandate given to each of us. We speak in terms of how wide rather than how deep. If we can’t quickly quantify our efforts, then we cannot justify our budgets, or in certain cases even our cross-cultural existence. The danger is that we focus on a formula to acquire souls and are driven by the fear of not reaching our goal, rather than the Spirit of the living God.
Those listed in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11 were remembered as having walked in faith – even though they all had failures on their journeys, they were counted as faithful. Yet, they walked, never being assured of what they would see, they only had certainty of their call. They couldn’t focus on the daily bumps in the road and twists and turns in their path, which many times led them astray. They had to keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. Jim Elliot and his companions never lived to see the amazing movement in the lives of the Huaorani people, that was in the timing of God’s plan, not man’s. After tireless work, and despite failing health, William Wilberforce only learned three days before his death of the abolition of slavery in England. The Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination, started a continuous 100-year prayer movement that resulted in the first significant wave of Protestant missionaries being sent to the world. The originators of that movement never experienced the incredible fruit that resulted. Read more