Jesus always seems to say things that hit straight at the heart and make you squirm.
For as long as I can remember, I had been extremely bothered by one of His affirmations: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…”
“Much fruit,” He says.
But does He explain what He means by fruit? Does He tell us what He even means by the puzzling conditional of “remaining” in Him? Does He tell us where to get the fruit?
Not so clearly. Yet He does expect not just “some fruit,” but “much fruit.”
A few verses later, in John 15:8, Jesus will go as far as saying that bearing “much fruit” will serve as a sign of a true disciple because the plentiful harvest will bring much glory to the Father.
A couple years ago I had been pastoring full time for almost a decade and my heart was beginning to feel a deep sense of anxiety. I was awakening to my lack of competency and my scattered focus. I was truly bothered by this lack of “much fruit.”
Don’t misunderstand me. For our small, mainly Mexican, immigrant congregation on Chicago’s west side, we had done well. We love our neighbors and God has granted us a thriving ministry with a truly influential presence in the life flow of our community.
Externally, our church has surfed a constant wave of growth. A couple of times in those ten years we had gone through the cycle of growing our attendance to the capacity of our building, leading us to plant congregations in other areas of Chicago’s southwest side. Over those ten years we’ve baptized an average of 30 people per year. On top of that, together with a couple of other partners, our church has begun to plant congregations in …