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Welcome to coffeepot conversations about congregations being fruitful

Welcome to coffeepot conversations about congregations being fruitful

 I’m thinking of these entries as coffeepot conversations -- like you might have with a colleague standing around the coffee pot in the break room at work or at a Starbucks when you run into a friend from church while getting an afternoon pick-me-up.  You chat for a couple minutes and then keep thinking about it as you climb back in your car or walk down the hall to your office.  Maybe the conversation sparks a new insight or gives you a new resource to explore.  Maybe it helps you put something into perspective for the first time – or rethink something you thought had long ago been settled.  My prayer is that these conversations will serve one purpose: assist you as a lay or clergy leader to be better equipped to help your congregation minister more fruitfully with God in your community.

The idea came to me not long ago when by the coffeepot in the conference building I had a conversation with someone who asked, “Do you really think Jesus expects congregations to be fruitful?”  I replied, “Well, yea. Don’t you?” I kept pondering the quizzical look on her face as I rode the elevator back upstairs with my afternoon coffee. For so long we have focused on institutional strength: paying our apportionments and property & casualty insurance. Isn’t that enough? Now we are clearly saying it isn’t, because a congregation can be institutionally strong and missionally fruitless. And missional ineffectiveness isn’t okay.

Jesus expects our ministry to bear fruit:  “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.  He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.  And every branch that is grape bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. . . . You didn’t choose me, remember, I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil.”  (John 15: 1-2, 16 The Message)

So what is the fruitfulness that Jesus wants his Body to bear as we collaborate with him in ministry to the world?  How you answer that question determines where you focus attention, time, energy and resources in your congregation.  After a lot of thought, study and prayer, here is where I’ve come out.  Jesus wants his congregations to bear fruit in four main ways: (1) new persons welcomed into discipleship, (2) and learning to be part of a Biblically functioning congregation, (3) where followers are growing in Christ-like character and (4) having a Kingdom impact in their community through participation is ministries of mercy and justice.  In short: converts, ekklesia, Christ-like character and Kingdom impact.  When you think about these four types of fruitfulness, how is your congregation doing?

If you are interested in exploring more what it means to be a fruitful congregation, click on “What do fruitful congregations do?” on our new website:

Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Office of Congregational Transformation