I have been reflecting the last week or so how great God is. For one of my course research papers I read Willow Creek’s REVEAL: Where Are You? by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. The focus of this post is not to defend or criticize Willow Creek methodology. Those that know me, already know where I stand and the blogosphere is already bursting with commentary on it. I want to focus on what God has been showing me. Hawkins writes:
“If you’re like me, you would do what church leaders have been doing for generations: design and fund an assortment of church activities and programs that you sincerely believe will help people grow spiritually. Then you’d encourage as many people as possible to get involved in those activities and programs, believing that increased participation means the lost are being reached and believers are growing…conversely, decreased participation means people aren’t being reached and aren’t growing. But let’s stop and really think that through. Does increased attendance in ministry programs automatically equate to spiritual growth? To be brutally honest: it does not.” (bold mine, pg 12-13)
I think Hawkins is on to something. It is very easy to measure success by sheer numbers. He does go on to say that numbers has its place, such as to help gauge whether or not people “like” what you are doing, but what about looking past the numbers to gauge the heart? Don’t get me wrong, I have a sense of satisfaction when people come out and enjoy whatever we are doing, but I am more satisfied when I see the Holy Spirit grab a hold of someone and do the greatest manifestation of His presence, turn a heart rebellious and hostile towards God, to a heart that loves, adores and treasures the Lord before anything else.
As a youth group we started our series on Colossians. Last Friday was the first time we spoke on it. We began with Colossians 1:1-14. One sentence keeps repeating over and over in my mind as I pray for myself and those that God has blessed me to minister to.
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:9–10)
I keep thinking about “bearing fruit.” There is an outward visible sign of an inward transformation of the heart. That is what I want to tap into. I don’t want to focus on attendance, but transformation. I have been so blessed lately to see God bringing fruit not only into my life, but the lives of those around me. I see young people starting to take seriously their faith in Christ. I see others who have lived apathetically and now God has called them to Himself and there is a fire burning within them. I am privileged to meet with young men early in the morning to study God’s Word and help them study it for themselves. Even tonight, I listened as a young man shared a bit of his heart, a heart that is yearning to be with the Father. The numbers are their, but the heart is what matters, and fruit will show the health of not just any ministry, but any person.
May we see more fruit in our lives and those that we have been called to minister to. May we be honest with ourselves and ask if there is fruit truly growing, or are we just going through the motions?