Did you ever notice that churches tend to follow cycles? It seems to happen everywhere in the world. Churches are planted like seeds. They sprout, and then before you know it, they grow. However, that’s not the end of the life cycle. Most churches enter a season of decline. And, truth be known, most churches eventually die. Christ doesn’t die. Faith doesn’t die. The Christian movement doesn’t die. But the Christian church? It goes through a life cycle, unnecessarily,
Think about John 15 and Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches. Everybody knows how a vine bears fruit. We also know from Scripture that God expects much fruit, the fruit of faith. In other words, God expects results. In other words, “the harvest is large,” and that’s normal for God. But in the vine and the branches analogy, there is this thing called pruning. And that pruning is cutting back, refining, getting back to basics. And, if you’ve ever pruned anything like that, you know that there is an explosion of growth that follows.
But that’s not all Jesus says in John 15. He has something even more dramatic to say. If a branch doesn’t produce fruit, the Creator cuts it off. Yes, that’s right—fruitless churches die. Not just because the neighborhood changes. Not just because times change. Not just because people aren’t interested anymore. Simply because churches refuse pruning. And, as Jesus promises, they are cut off.
In Luke 19:39-40, Jesus rides into Jerusalem. At one point, the Pharisees go after Jesus: “Get control of Your disciples!” Jesus had an interesting response: “If they were kept quiet, the stones would shout praises on their behalf.” True disciples can’t be silenced. Churches of disciples become churches that will take on God’s pruning, because they will do anything to see fruit: eternal fruit among people.
Many churches at different times in history face decline. Perhaps you’re in one of them. Do you have any clue about God’s position concerning your church? The truth is God doesn’t need you. God doesn’t need your church. God doesn’t need your denomination.
No, God doesn’t need anything. He wants you. For your sake, He wants to include you. You know, Scripture says, “All heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents”? It’s pretty exciting for those involved as well! It’s for your sake. He wants you in on the greatest joy, the greatest experience of power, the greatest movement, the greatest blessing, the greatest gift you can bestow on anyone…by sharing your faith in Jesus Christ. It’s for your sake. God doesn’t need you! He wants you. He’s dying to get you.