Today is part three of my discussion “The Vineyard” which was published Monday here https://onetahayes.com/2022/01/04/the-vineyard/ Part two published Tuesday here https://onetahayes.com/2022/01/05/pastoring-the-church/
MAYBE THE PASTOR STARTED with 11 and grew to 100 or started with 400 and grew to 4000. Whatever the size there seems to be a stopping place on the growth. What happened? Wouldn’t it be nice if the reason were that they became a mother church and sent 75 people, piano player included, out to begin in a new location? That does happen on occasion, but I’m afraid more often it is because of a “church split” rather than “church birth.”
MAYBE IT JUST STOPPED GROWING because that was a good size to do what that pastor and his team were capable of doing. Maybe it was because the nursery was not sufficiently staffed! But it might be that God didn’t choose to give a ten talent-job to a five talented man. Nothing wrong with that. In a church growth class at some time I was told that most salvation experiences occur in churches of less than fifty people. It is okay with me if you disagree. It was just what the author of that text said. I can’t vouch for it.
LET ME RELATE AN interesting experience. I talked with a grandmother who was excited about her twenty-something granddaughter going to church. That church of several thousand is well known, and it has all the gadgets available. But I was quite taken aback when my friend said “Janie” came in after church and asked her mother what it meant to be saved, because she had been saved that morning! I didn’t want to be a stick in the mud so I kept my mouth shut and hoped for the best! About a month later, I visited my friend again. She said Janie was doing well. That Janie said she and her boyfriend had gone to a little Baptist church and got saved. She said the preacher was boring, but they were going to attend that church. (Yay for the Baptists; Woe for the Baptists? I’m just reporting the story.—smiling at you, dear Friends.)
PASTORS, WHATEVER SIZE your vineyard, remember that the fruit is what matters! What is going through the winepress? Do you know the chorus about being poured out like wine, broken like bread to feed the hungry, being sold out and being one with Jesus so he can do what he wants. Is your vineyard producing good kinds of fruit? Yes, you say. Probably so. How many branches are bearing fruit? How much do they bear? I guess that will be one of the issues settled when man’s work will be judged by fire (I Cor. 3:13).
IN THE ISAIAH PASSAGE the vineyard owner goes to check his vineyard; he found only bad fruit. Stroll with me through a present day vineyard. Gaze out over the vines. Good vines, bearing much fruit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. This is the display growing in the sun and attached firmly to the vine.
MY PERSONAL NOTE TO YOU, DEAR PASTOR, IS IF YOU HAVE FOLLOWED THE LORD AND ALWAYS HAVE HAD SMALL CHURCHES, TAKE COURAGE – JUST BE ENCOURAGED TO KNOW YOU MAY HAVE HAD THE BEST LITTLE CELL GROUP IN TOWN. 😀 Your vineyard might be small, but it might be making the very best wine to be served at the Master’s table. You have the same chance to hear “Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant” as Paul. IMAGINE THAT!!!