I was updating a blog post when I came across a previous post that got me thinking. The post was entitled What Is the Fruit of a Sunday School Class or Small Group?. In that post I stated the following:
Why does an orange tree produce fruit? An orange tree does not produce fruit so you and I can enjoy eating an orange. An orange tree produces oranges so it can produce seeds that will grow into more orange trees. It produces oranges to continue the species. God made it that way. So the real fruit of an orange tree is an orange tree….
What is the fruit of a Sunday School class or a Bible study small group? The answer I get most frequently is more Bible knowledge, and that is a small part of it. Some say fellowship and assimilation. Application of the Word surely must be part of it. Certainly, some of the fruit involves changed lives, touching individuals in the community, and fellowship around the Word. Leading the class to tell others about Jesus flows naturally as fruit of a class or group….
But what is the purpose of a class or group producing fruit? All of the previous paragraph is to prepare the class to start another class. The fruit of a class or group is to produce another class or group that will also produce fruit. It is, like the orange tree, to multiply and continue the species.
Without more sheep pens, we cannot disciple and care for more sheep. Without new wineskins, we tend to lose new wine. If classes and groups stop multiplying, there will be fewer disciples–not more. When a fruit tree stops producing fruit, it is no longer useful. Rededicate your class or group this year to being fruitful.
The most fruit-bearing classes I know are those who regularly send out teachers for other groups and regularly send out seed groups to launch new groups. They use the spiritual growth and numerical growth gained to reach, care for, develop, and send out even more people. They launch more classes who launch more classes. They send out more harvesters.
The teacher is the key to a fruit-bearing Sunday School class. When he/she invests in an apprentice, the class takes seriously the effort to launch a new class. When the teacher models and encourages expectancy about birthing a new class, the class becomes expectant. They pray, invite, and serve in preparation for the launch of the new group. They are more willing to leave friends. They grow more as disciples.
What do you need to do to lead your class to take steps toward bearing fruit? What do you need to do prepare the class to start another class? Are you intentionally apprenticing anyone? Have you asked your class to pray with you about it? Have you asked class leaders to begin apprenticing people in preparation for needing more leaders in the second class? Pray. Apprentice. Encourage. Prepare. Launch. Be fruitful. Be revolutionary!