I’m currently reading a book which spends a chapter describing healthy seasons and times as leaders in ministry. You’ll see a couple of things below, but one thing it likens it to is fruit and I find what it has to say about grapes to be especially interesting. This seems so counter-cultural, counter-intuitive, and counter-productive that it fascinates me! Maybe that’s because it’s the old cliché “Thinking outside of the box.”
Take a few minutes to read and comment with your reactions. (I understand I’m not giving you the context of the whole chapter or book, but I think you are getting a good snapshot of a concept.)
“Since our first experience as created beings with our Creator was a day of rest, we see that in order to fulfill our calling to be fruitful, we must start from a place of rest. Resting in God-abiding in his presence-is the only way we can be successful in what he has called us to do. Yet how many schedule days of rest and relaxation on the calendar before we schedule meetings, conventions, and other days of work? Is this challenging to you?” (Kindle location 1376)
“Fruitfulness happens in stages and seasons: abide, grow, bear fruit, prune, abide…It’s really all about timing. We cannot bear fruit if we do not spend time abiding…Growth is not the same as bearing fruit. Sometimes we mistake spiritual growth for the fruit itself. This is not the case. We must grow before we can see fruit. An apple tree, for instance, does not bear fruit for three years. Grape vines are pruned back and forced not to bear fruit for two to three years so that their root system can be established. Growth must happen before fruit is produced. And growth comes from knowing how to abide.” (Kindle location 1396)
“We need to learn when it is our pruning time. This seems unproductive at first glance. After all, aren’t’ we supposed to be pressing forth with all of our energy to do the work of the kingdom? In a word, no…It is not our energy and determination that impresses God, it is our living in the manner he made us that will produce the fruit he intends for us to bear. Pruning is not automatic for the branch. Left to its own plans, it would continue to grow, increasing in size but decreasing in strength, endurance, and health until it would be unable to hold the fruit it is intended to bear. We need to have times of pruning in our churches, time when most, if not all, activity ceases. Times of rest and abiding. This runs contrary to principles taught in most church growth courses and seminars.” (Kindle location 1409)
Breen, Mike and Steve Cockram. Building A Discipling Culture: How to Release a Missional Movement By Discipling People Like Jesus Did. Pawleys Island: 3 Dimensional Ministries, 2009. Kindle ebook file.
I’d love to hear what you think about this! What are your initial reactions? What about after you spend some time thinking about it?