Last week I finally found the time to knock out some yard work around the house. As you all know, we have been in the process of settling into our house this past month, and for the last several weeks, I have been focusing on the inside of our home. However, last weekend I was able to shift my attention to the outside since most of my indoor projects had been checked off the list. So I spent a few hours outside knocking out small projects from pulling weeds, to trimming hedges, to doing the typical mow/edge/blow lawncare maintenance. But I also made time to plant a small shrub in our backyard. We had brought it with us from Houston in a pot, but I wanted to get it into the ground so we could watch it take root and fully grow at our new home. However, I know that growth will be a process. It will not grow immediately, as it will take time for those roots to adjust to the new soil. But I also know that when it does fully take root, it will certainly bear fruit and flourish in the years to come.
In the Scriptures, Jesus says our church’s growth is likewise contingent on the health of our roots. If we want to see our church grow, we must each independently focus on our own roots in this season. Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” In this famous verse, Jesus gives both a promise and a warning. He promises that if we abide (or root ourselves) in Him, we will bear much fruit. The fruit of the spirit will begin to manifest itself more fully in our individual lives, and the Spirit of God will manifest Himself more clearly in the life of our church. Churches grow when its members are fully committed to the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in their lives. We as a church family then begin to bear fruit. Marriages are healed, children are discipled, sin is broken, and lives are forever changed. That is the kind of fruit that we all want to see at ABC, but it will only come if we daily plant ourselves in Him. As followers of Christ, we can only control the depth of our faith, and He then takes care of the width. As we go deeper in Him, it’s amazing to then watch how He widens our impact for Him.
But I also said the verse comes with a warning. Jesus boldly reminds us that apart from him, “you can do nothing.” If we do not plant ourselves daily in him, we will never see the spiritual fruit we want in our lives. Sin will continue to trip us up, our flesh will fail, and our relationships will begin to hurt. Simply put, we cannot walk in faith without a daily dependence in Him. Likewise, if we do not take root in Him individually, our collective church will never bear the fruit we want to see. It will not grow, lives won’t be changed, the next generation won’t be reached, and the church will not be alive unless we fully devote ourselves to Him. Church growth begins with each of us.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see some amazing fruit in our church. I do believe many of us are planting deep roots, and because of that, God is blessing our church family. We have seen nearly a 40% increase in attendance in the last 8 weeks. Our contemporary service had over 160 people last Sunday, and every week it is averaging more people than it had at this time last year, pre-pandemic. We have multiple baptisms scheduled for this month, and we’ve joined new members the last several weeks. We had over 30 first time visitors fill out cards on campus the past 3 weeks. New staff members have joined our team, dozens of new deacons have been recommended, and giving has been tremendous. I hope you can see that God is moving, and our church is bearing amazing fruit.
But that being said, I don’t want us to lose focus on the cause. Firm roots lead to a fruitful harvest. Commit yourself to be more fully rooted in Him this week than you were last. And if you do, I truly believe the best is yet to come. Invite a friend to join you this Sunday, and I hope to see you in Worship this weekend.