As a pastor for 33 years, I often wondered why so many new believers drop out of the Christian “race.” Their conversion is genuine but their endurance is sporadic. It seems to me that as many as 2/3 of the conversions in our churches never connect or fall back into the world. Where are we missing it?
Jesus told the “parable of the sower.” It gives us the secret to our problem. Perhaps we should make this parable into the process by which we help believers to become fruitful disciples:
- The first soil was too hard to germinate. Jesus said these “hearers” did not “understand.” When it comes to the plan of salvation, they didn’t “get it.”
- We have to help a new believer to understand salvation. We must break it down, make it plain, make it simple. “Christian-ese” does not help them. They need milk (simple, basic doctrine). We must answer their questions.
- The second soil had no “roots”: A new believer desperately needs the roots of relationship because Jesus said that tribulation and difficulty WILL come. Redwood trees have shallow roots but can grow huge because they connect with the roots of other redwoods.
- These relationships should be a weekly small group where they can share the burdens, problems, and difficulties they are facing. John Wesley required every Methodist to be in a small group 11 out of 13 weeks every quarter or they lost their membership!
- A third soil was the “weeds” that are sure to gradually come in: temptation, deception, and distraction. A seed cannot compete with a weed.
- The devil stole the first seed. Difficulties steal the second seed. The WORLD steals the third seed through hobbies, money, property, toys, illicit relationships, habits, etc.
- A new believer needs routines. We call this “discipleship” (spiritual discipline). They need to maintain a consistent lifestyle of spiritual growth in these four areas:
- daily prayer,
- daily Bible reading,
- a weekly small group, and
- a weekly church
- The last soil is the jackpot! Once they have “understood” salvation, developed relationships, and developed spiritual habits, they begin to bear FRUIT: “spiritual actions.”
- Every believer needs to know their gifts, their talents, and their passion. They need to:
- “Get plugged in” to their local church, to
- “Serve” on a “dream team” at their church, and
- “Maximize” their spiritual “capacity” (30-fold, 60-fold, or 100-fold)!
“Seed, roots, weeds, then fruit.” These four principles came from the wisdom of the Master Himself.
Where do you stand in your journey? What is your plan to lead your congregation through this process? How could this year be different if you faced these issues head-on?
We have over 300,000 churches in America. What would happen if they were all fruitful?
What have you found is successful in developing the process of spiritual fruitfulness in your life and your church?