Feb 11, 2021
Until 100 years ago, the only fertilizer available was animal manure. Farmers across the globe used it generously to increase the yield of their crops. In other words, there was always a moment in the harvest cycle when things got smelly. Have you ever felt like you were stuck in one of those smelly seasons? Have you felt like your church has been sitting in some fertilizer lately? It might not be as bad as it feels.
#JesusStories: In Luke 13, Jesus tells a parable about a tree in a garden that was not producing fruit. The owner of the garden became frustrated and asked the gardener to cut it down. But the gardener appealed to the owner: “Sir, let it alone this year until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that, you can cut it down.” We don’t know the ending to this story precisely because Jesus wanted to focus on the process of turning dormant lives into fruitful lives. He wanted us to know that when we get a shovel full of manure poured all over our lives, it is designed to make us more fruitful. And when our church suddenly find themselves sitting in smelly circumstances, that too is call to prepare for greater fruitfulness.
If this Pandemic has done anything, it has dumped a truck load of issues all over our lives. Shutdowns have led to massive business closures, and heated debates about reopening schools have erupted all around there land. The courts have become filled with charges and counter-charges about orders and regulations. Just this past week alone, two supreme courts have struck down governors’ orders to continue to shutter churches in their States for reason of constitutional overreach. Yes, our governmental leaders at every level have struggled to find balance: Vaccines, no vaccines, masks, double-masks, indoor distancing, outdoors distancing, no church, no more than 25 people in church, and if you go – no singing in church. Yes, the smelly circumstances continue to press in all around us. AND YET, the Lord is doing something important! Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, is using this particular version of manure to ready his people and his Church for an upcoming season of fruitfulness. If we focus on the fertilizer, we will feel hopeless. But if we focus on the forthcoming harvest, we will find our spirits saying, “Lord, do in me and my church what you need to do. We want to be at our best come harvest time.”
#DinnerChurchQuotes: The Great San Francisco earthquake, WWI, the communist revolution in Russia, The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, and the Great Depression all contributed to the rise of America’s Great Awakening that started at Azusa Street. -Daniel Tomberlin
#PracticalStuff: This is a great time to prepare for the forthcoming harvest by doing dinner Church training with your team and your church family. Might I recommend my book, “Welcome to Dinner Church”, as a training tool. It is a small book that is priced so that a leader can grab one for each of their people, purchase one video companion for the entire group, read one chapter at at time, answer the questions in the back, come together once a week, play a 10-minute segment from the video, and use the remaining 50 minutes for discussion. In this way you can help your people, who were discipled in a traditional church, learn how to become effective at a Jesus Table Church. This is the season to get ready for something great. And if your church has already been delving into training – GET OUT THERE! Even if your State disallows indoor gatherings, set up a canopy tent on the sidewalk and serve up the New Passover from there. Our neighbors are struggling; they need us now.
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.