August 13, 2014

The Importance of Spiritual Pruning for Growing Healthy Churches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1)

At Niddrie, we are having our annual ‘prune’ as we review our ministry across the board. Every year in August, we reassess all of our ministries and training programmes. What has been good this year? What has been bad? What has worked? What hasn’t? Where have we seen growth? Are there any dead parts that need to be pruned? We find that this keeps momentum going and the ministry fresh rather than just wandering along in maintenance mode because everything appears to be going okay. We like to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to ministry. In my opinion, many churches can trace the beginning of their decline from their inability to self-assess and make the necessary changes. Comfort sets in, tradition can take over, and before long, stagnancy becomes the new normal.

This is what makes church planting attractive to this generation. In a new plant, there are no real sacred cows to slaughter and there are no traditions that are hands off when it comes to change. However, smugness, self-reliance and lethargy can still creep in if we don’t establish a culture of continual assessment and spiritual pruning on a yearly basis. Here are some of the key questions we ask ourselves as a team.

  • What is our mission statement? In what ways have we succeeded in hitting it and in what ways have we failed?
  • What structures do we need to dispense with because they have been unhelpful to our mission?
  • What ministries are just not working and how will we address this?

At Niddrie, we like to see people grow in three areas: Bible knowledge, godly character & practical service. How have our trainees (across the board) hit those targets? Where have we helped them and where have we failed them? What changes do we need to make in order to improve? How can we better train/disciple each individual in our care?

Who do we need to move on so that we can give others a chance? How and what do we move these people on to?

What kinds of areas do we want to see growth in this coming year (in knowledge, character, and service)?

These are just some of the key questions we work through as our ministry evolves over the years. How is your church doing in these areas? Do you have any better questions or ideas to help us in being more productive for the kingdom of God?


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