“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NIV)
In the blog archives you will find the background for this passage about Sabbath (Sabbath and Sunday School.) Today I want to share the four main cycles in this passage we all need as Christians/churches (which also applies to Sunday School.) The four cycles are: Abide/Remain, Prune, Grow and Bear Fruit. Here are some thoughts to consider about each one as you think about your Sunday School ministry.
Take time each day for God. I am not talking about preparing a SS lesson. We each need some quiet time with God. It does not always have to be in your study. For me it is time while I am pushing a lawn mower, fishing, taking a prayer walk, working in a garden or in other methods while enjoying God’s creation. Whatever energizes you in your relationship with God is appropriate. Though prayer on bended knee is important, so is prayer in other ways each day.
Have a Sabbath day each week. God chose for each of us to have a Sabbath day to rest and abide.
Are there certain habits or areas of your life you need to set aside for God? I know of a church that encouraged all of her members to give up television for a week in order to seek clarity and vision (through prayer and reading during those hours) for their future.
Are there certain traditions that your Sunday School needs to set aside in order to see new ways God may want to move? For those who have opening assembly, set it aside for a month or two. Have all classes join together for breakfast thirty minutes before class starts and start Bible study on time. You still have the fellowship component through breakfast, but will have more time to study and apply God’s Word.
Growth is what happens when a branch gets the nourishment it needs from the vine and the Gardener prunes dead leaves. When we focus on abiding/remaining in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to prune what is not needed, we begin to see inward growth take place in our lives, and a deeper discipling experience. This is not numerical growth. It is a growing in spiritual depth and maturity of class members and growing closer to each other as part of the community of faith. It is seeking training opportunities like we have at Eagle Eyrie on Saturday, May 3rd as part of our Leadership Gathering.
What would spiritual growth look like for you? How would your spiritual growth affect your family…your class…your presence in the workplace and community?
This is outward growth. This is a new sensitivity to persons who are not in Bible study. This is an outward sensitivity and burden for persons out in the community. It is the desire to: build relationships with persons outside of church, start new SS classes for prospects and seeking ways to serve in the community as you share God’s Good News.
In essence, when you have members who are at the stage of fruitfulness, they are ready to be missionaries! They are ready to be a part of a new class that may meet on Sunday morning or another time and day of the week to bring unchurched persons into a community of care and sharing of God’s Word in Bible study.
Are you asking members to be praying about being a part of a missionary movement for Sunday School? Are you calling people out to mentor them in how to teach in order that they might start a new class? Is your class involved in an ongoing service project in the community? This is bearing fruit for the Kingdom!