The family of five was alive and vibrant. As the children grew, learned, and participated in everything, the parents got them to events, attended others, and kept them safe and secure. As they got older, the children simply stayed at home. The longer they stayed, internal dissatisfaction grew. The internal drama increased. Some moved out, but not very far. They still came home most of the time. No one got married. No one had their own home or their own children. Wouldn’t this be odd?
The second family of five was alive and vibrant, too. As the children grew, learned, and participated in everything. At the beginning the parents did most everything, but they started teaching their children their skills at a young age so the children could eventually and increasingly do things on their own. The home was safe and secure, but the parents made it clear that their intention was for them to live on their own, have their own family, and seek to be productive on their own. When that time came, which for some was very young, and for a few was a little later (but not much later), they had their own homes, birthed their own children, and grew them as their parents had demonstrated.
So it is for groups of believers. Some are led by pastors, some teachers, some a combination of leaders. Whatever the leadership looks like, they and the believers with them fall into the same two categories of the families described above. The first result is fairly common, where the leaders grow some believers, participate in everything they do, attend everything they do, and pretty much do everything for them. It’s all happy but gets a little stale. It is the same people, the same environment, and the same leaders doing most everything, the same people satisfied that everything is just fine. The internal drama grows, so a few move on but most of the basic family stays the same and stays at home. It seems like a safe life, but little is produced.
The second group is led with the intention of growing their young believers to live and function on their own. They love “their” believers and keep loving them the same way Jesus Christ loved the disciples — all for the practical purpose that they grow sufficiently to abide in Christ on their own and cause others to abide likewise. Whatever it takes, the leaders see success as their “children” function on their own wherever they are, not requiring their “parents” to keep doing everything for them.
Which kind of family do you have? Which kind of church do you have? It is easy to tell after one or certainly two decades. Real abiding and the love of God have one result: fruitfulness. If there is a lack of fruitfulness, something needs to change.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15:7-10