Phew! It’s finished, all that planning, all that effort, the multitude of resource-draining Christmas ‘outreach’ activities (with exhortations to invite a friend), Carol Services (with exhortations to invite a friend), Gingerbread Houses (with exhortations to invite a friend), Beach Missions (with exhortations to come along to help). Thank goodness, it’s now time to have a break before the new ministry year starts and all the regular ministries ramp up again.
One thing it is said that the ‘Church’ is generally not good at is ‘Shooting the Dead Horse’, that is closing resource-using ministries that produce very little or even no Kingdom fruit and have not done so for a long time, even though “we like them”. Another way of putting it is that we continually refuse to put the axe to ‘The (Christmas) Fig Tree’ (with reference to Jesus parable in Luke 13:7-9) i.e. our range of Christmas ‘outreach events’, even when year after year there is little to no fruit in terms of additions to our fellowship.
‘Event evangelism’, Christmas or otherwise, has not produced significant fruit for a long time. Yes, there are always exceptions, and we thank God for them, but they are nowhere near enough to justify their continuation when the resources could be redirected to new missional strategies appropriate for 21st century Australian culture, ones that are potentially more fruitful.
Event evangelism activities were more fruitful when the spiritual background radiation of Christendom was still relatively strong in Australian (western) society but now it is now so weak as to be almost undetectable. So, this time should be used for some critical examination the ‘Christmas Figtree’ in regard to the fruit to resource ratio. If we seriously do that for the sake of more effective missional resource use, I would suggest we will be hearing the sound of bullets being fired, and axes being wielded!
Jesus could not have made it clearer that God expects maximum fruit. So unfruitful branches must be removed (John 15); Tenants of the vineyard from which the owner receives no fruit must be thrown out (Luke 21); the unfruitful fig tree must be cut down (Luke 13); the soil God wants is that which produces a crop vastly greater than the seed sown Mark 4).
Should it be then, that at the start of 2017 we will be prepared to take a good hard look at our ‘event evangelism’ activities with the difficult intent of biting some serous bullets for the sake of greater missional fruitfulness and the eternal destiny of the lost, and for God’s Glory.