This past week, I attended the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland-Delaware. I was so encouraged that our state convention has a vision to plant new churches and strengthen existing churches. I was pleased to see pastors of our local Susquehanna Association in key positions of responsibility and taking on leadership roles in our convention. I was humbled to be asked to serve in leadership so quickly and was amazed to be elected as the President of the Pastor’s Conference for 2011. What this means is that I’ll be involved in planning the Pastor’s meeting on Monday of the convention that year. One of the guest preachers, a fellow named Ron Sylvia from Florida challenged our convention with a question that has bugged me almost non-stop since he asked it. He had someone ask this of him related to his church years ago and it bugged him also. The question is this: “If Calvary Baptist Church ceased to exist tomorrow, would the community (in our case Bel Air and Harford County) notice it was gone?”
Of course we’d all miss it, the other churches around would notice, the association and state convention would notice because of our giving; but what he means is, would the pagan lost people in Harford County notice we were gone? What a challenging question that is! For those of us who want to make a difference for the kingdom of God, I hope it will bug you like it has me. I think at this point in our history, the answer would be yes and no. I think things like our care night food ministry would be something people would take notice of. I think the AARP who uses our facility for tax consultation would miss us. There are probably some other areas people would miss us. The thing that bugs me primarily is most of the “missing” would be due to our facility usage. People shouldn’t miss us because of our buildings, they should miss us because of the people, the people who are so in love with Jesus, they are showing God’s love to a lost and dying world which is consumed with pursuing every form of pleasure and entertainment trying to fill a God sized hole in their lives. They should miss us because we were responsible to introduce them to the Savior. Does this mean we’re failing? I do not believe so. I think we have much on the ball and that we are making a difference, but this question challenges me to what else we can do. I wish I could tell you I have it all figured out. I don’t.
Having had this question rolling around in my head now for a couple of days since I heard it Sunday night, I’ve been talking to the Lord about this. This morning in my quiet time, I was reading in John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jesus goes on to answer the question for us in vs. 7-8 “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”
By abiding in Christ and in His Word, Jesus promised when we ask Him to help us become fruit producers, it will happen, it will bring glory to the Father when we bear much fruit. Isn’t that awesome? That God wants us, the people of Calvary to produce much fruit in the form of lives that He wants to change and transform. In this same passage, Jesus talks of pruning dead wood so the tree will begin to produce fruit again. We need to evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. What’s not producing fruit, we need to prune and even what is, sometimes needs pruning so it will be more effective. I love my mom’s strawberry jelly she’s made for years. I’ve watched dad mow down her strawberry patch, but boy does it produce strawberries next year!
I’ve said and continue to believe that some of the best and most effective ministries Calvary will ever have haven’t even been started yet. But God wants to do something great and mighty in and through you, the people of Calvary. He wants us to bear much fruit – not just so the community would weep if we weren’t here. The point is that we would bear fruit that lasts for eternity to the glory of God. The next question is, “what about me, am I bearing fruit for Jesus?” If not, ask what do I need to prune to begin producing fruit? Ask yourself if you’re abiding in Christ and asking him to make you fruitful. Something to think about from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church