It was one of those serendipitous meetings this week. I was asked to meet with a ministry leader from another organization and he told me an intriguing story.
At a gathering of their leaders last year - about thirty of them - they sat around a table and did a study of the term "fruit" in the New Testament. They came to the conclusion that ministry fruit - ministry results were far more important to God than to them. That God's expectation was far higher than theirs. It was one of those "a ha" moments that groups can have.
This led them to ask what I think is an amazing question and one which I think every ministry should ask. "What would it take for us to double the fruit of our ministry?" A simple question - with profound implications.
Now this is a well established ministry overseas. With well established programs. It is a healthy ministry. They started to look at where they were spending their time and energy and what they were getting in the various endeavors for their efforts.
But the question, coming out of a conviction that God desired more fruit than they were seeing caused them to re-evaluate their programs and ministries. And they did something radical. Some programs they shut down to retool. Others they put on hold and they are trying new things and spending a year thinking strategically about how they can double the results of their ministries without changing the number of staff or the size of their budget.
I give this ministry high marks for asking the question. I think all of us who lead ministries or parts of ministries could benefit from asking that question. We might be surprised with what God shows us. And it fits with those who have a sense of urgency. We know that ultimately God is the one who brings fruit. We also know He wants us to be fruitful and there are things we can do that can make the soil better - including robust prayer strategies which often get lost in our activity.
Often the answer is just doing things more strategically in a more focused manner. Periodically we need to think about what we do and how we do it, especially as the ministry environment around us has changed. A few major changes can radically change ministry fruit.
What would it take in your ministry to double the fruit you see? It does, after all go to the heart of what God wants for us (John 15).