Updated: Nov 14, 2019
By: Russ Johnson
We hear a lot about kingdom movement through Christians loving their neighbors, evangelism, making disciples (discipleship), and the role of church planting networks (house church, micro church, mega, missional or underground church). But what are the actual things people are doing where there's movement happening among the 70% of society uninterested in church?
That was the question that led to a summer of travel and a number of conversations with people who are and are not a part of the Table Network. Some who I chatted with are seeing gospel movement and some are not. After spending some time reflecting on a variety of stories across the states, some helpful insights and common themes began to surface regarding the difference between the two.
Warning: the results will challenge conventional church wisdom.
If your heart is for those who have no interest in church, or those who do but have never truly found freedom in Christ, then this blog/podcast series is for you. We have distilled the findings down to 7 things that seem to make all the difference in connecting with the 70% uninterested in the church.
The first thing that has become evident in every place where we’re seeing movement is this: A point person or leader who isn’t suffering from a gardener complex.
So just what exactly do I mean by a “gardener complex?” It’s a belief or paradigm that people begin to develop once they move into a position of influence. They start out rejoicing in the life Jesus has given them as a fellow “branch” with everyone else who can do “nothing apart from [Jesus],” but then oddly begin thinking that they are somehow the gardener — a task Jesus said belonged to “My Father.” (John 15)
As flawed and foolish people, we don’t have the ability to fix our own lives, much less someone else’s. Branches “bear fruit” by design; they don’t produce it. Trusting in the Vine and Vinedresser for this work is the only thing we add to the equation.
Coming to grips with the limitations of human frailty is good because it keeps us from putting things on people (or ourselves) Jesus never called us to.
First, trusting Jesus to produce fruit in someone’s life is what’s best for them. The last thing anyone needs is a friend, who was called to love them, spending their time trying to fix them. Which is why those who know they are nothing more than a fellow “branch that can do nothing” to produce fruit, gain the influence needed to walk with those uninterested in church.
Second, trusting Jesus to bear fruit in other’s lives is what is best for you. Yes, the “millstone around your neck at the bottom of the ocean” Jesus spoke of in Luke is better than the endless exhaustion that comes from trying to be the gardener of the world. It’s one thing to pursue something you can do, another to give yourself to a task you can never perform. So if it's joy you seek, and it's trust you hope to gain in others lives, then rest in the only One who can bring that fruit.