Friday, September 15, 2023

Branches and Seeds

One last post on growth, and then we're going to move on.

We've been talking about growth for several days, about church growth and about how we're called to branch out like a family tree. The whole conversation stems from a thing that likes to make its rounds on social media, lamenting how the family seems to 'fall apart' after grandma dies and we all stop going to her house for Christmas. But the truth, as we've seen, is that this is how families grow - and for every generation that mourns the loss of grandma's house, what they often don't realize is that they have become grandma's house for the next generation. And on and on and on it goes. This is how a family tree branches out. 

Yesterday, we looked at the way that encouraging our church members to pursue their passions helps us to establish some really strong, firm, old branches low-hanging on our Christian family tree. And today, I want to expand a little bit on what that looks like. 

For example, take youth ministry. Some churches have youth ministry as a fundamental program in their church. It's something they build themselves around. So much so that many churches believe that youth ministry is not a branch of their family tree; it's part of the trunk. 

But imagine, for a minute, if it was a branch.

If youth ministry is a strong, firm, old low-hanging branch on your church family tree, then it has a lot of time to grow. As it grows, it develops branches of its own - the growth of every single youth your ministry has invested itself in. These smaller branches sprout off the main branch and start filling in the tree. 

Then, every youth your ministry has invested itself in invests in someone or something else - maybe youth ministry of their own, maybe something else. But that branch starts making twigs, which become branches. And those branches make twigs that become branches. And after even just a few generations have passed, you have this really full, well-developed, amazingly beautiful tree that becomes a haven for the birds and the squirrels and the bees and all sorts of other parts of creation that want to come to it for nourishment. It also becomes shade for the weary, who are just trying to get out of the heat of the day for awhile. 

Sticks don't do that. When we grow our churches straight up and try to keep everything as close to the trunk as possible, we don't become that kind of haven. We don't provide shelter or shade or nourishment or a place to rest. We're just...a stick. But branches....oh, branches give life. 

And not only do they give life in what they themselves have to offer, but they give life another way. Because on the ends of those branches, on the tips of their twigs, sprout these little buds that as time goes on, start to bear little seeds. And those little seeds fall onto the ground. Some fall on the ground nearby; others are carried by the wind to faraway places. But no matter where they go, they settle on the ground and start to sprout and to grow their own new thing - their own new thing that carries the DNA of the very old thing that sprouted them to begin with. 

This is church growth. This is exponential growth. This is disciples making disciples making disciples, church family trees planting church family trees. 

This is how it's meant to be. 

And we're using youth ministry as an example here, but it could be any ministry that your church is operating. If you let it become a branch, instead of part of the trunk, you start to see how it grows and multiplies and becomes something more. It's beautiful. 

Aspire for your church to be beautiful. 

And stop worrying so much about what happens when grandma dies. 

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