Creating an environment in which members can grow and flourish is the most important thing leaders should do in playing their part in the Kingdom. It’s what Yahweh expects from those He’s called to lead fellowships. In the natural realm we know things grow when the conditions are favourable, depending on what has been planted. Disciples of Yahshua must grow and bear fruit (John 15:5-8). Disciples will bear fruit when the right conditions are in place to ‘stimulate’ and encourage spiritual growth. These conditions must be created and vigorously maintained.
The seed of life is usually planted through this means. Our fellowships, therefore, must consistently preach and teach the Scriptures accurately and to a high standard. The Word must be ministered (sown) in the lives of people so it abides in them (John 15:7; Colossians 3:16), and leads to conversion and transformation. This is essential for fruit bearing.
When gardeners plant seeds they take great care to ensure they have everything they need (water, light, shade and other nutrients) in the early period of the planting to give them the opportunity to germinate, put down roots and gain the strength to sprout. Equally, the new believers need careful nurturing – some individual(s) supporting them as they come to terms with what’s happened to them; slowly and gently explaining things they need to understand in order to become stronger in their faith; introducing them to certain tools or principles that will help them become settled and rooted.
It’s a known fact that people grow best in a meaningful community where they are connected to others, have a sense of belonging, and genuinely love each other. A place where individuals have a common purpose, learn from each other, speak the truth to each other – where they literally share their lives with one another. This kind of community and fellowship is critical for the overall health of the fellowship and it can be realised through vibrant discipleship groups.
At this stage people really begin to find out who they are and what Yahweh has put inside them to benefit others; it’s where members have the chance to explore their gifts, talents and ability through service. Here, their capacity to serve grows and as a result fruit, which is a source of great personal encouragement, is pushed to the surface of their lives.
When these conditions are in place members will grow, develop naturally, and bear fruit. Every person will have their own unique fruit bearing capacity so we shouldn’t look for the same level of fruit in different people. This is borne out in of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23) – some will produce 30, others 60, still others 100 times what was sown.
If you want to see the members of your fellowship consistently producing ‘much fruit’ then you must work hard to put in place the above criteria, securing a sustainable environment for growth.
Our Master never thought of a relationship to him that does not issue in fruitfulness for him.
In the orchard of opportunity, it is better to pick the fruit than to wait for it to fall.
Community is a gift. It is not based on mutual admiration, emotional attraction, or common personalities, but is a result of being drawn together by Yahweh. In community we are often drawn together with the kind of people we would not have chosen to be close with. There is a difference between community and a clique.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teachers demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
Psalm 1:1-3 (HCSB)
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in [Yahweh's] instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
I come to you, Father, knowing that You require Your children to bear fruit in their lives – fruit that will last and honour You. I understand that part of my task as a leader, with Your help, is to create the environment in which Your people can grow, thrive and produce a crop. Please grant me the wisdom, knowledge, strength and ability to do just that, and for it to be maintained.
For just as each of us has one body with many members...