One of the things that is clear from scripture is that The Lord looks for fruitfulness. In John 15:5 Jesus tells his disciples, 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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” 

Clearly Jesus expects there to be fruit.

Evidently, fruitfulness shows you are a disciple.

This is easy for an American to understand. In our culture where money is the bottom line and results (or lack of results) can cost you your job, bearing fruit is an easy concept to get. Produce. Or else. And even though we give lip service to “remaining in the vine” much of our effort in “churchworld” can become manipulated to manufacture results for our boards or direct reports. I am all for accountability, but something I have learned doing years of street ministry is, some fruit takes time to come to fruition. 

Peaches can take up to three years to ripen and some apple trees can take up to four or five years to produce it’s first crop. There are even parables where the farmer allows for the fact that it may take a while to bear fruit (Luke 13:6-9). And although it is very clear that God looks for and even demands fruitfulness, it is also clear that sometimes patience is needed when looking for fruit.

I cannot tell you how many different friends in the streets have taken months, even years, to show any kind of maturing in Christ. Our lead street minister on the east side of Kalamazoo showed no fruit at all for almost two years while we ministered to him and his friends. The lead pastor of one of our partner churches, who is the former gang leader of the main gang in that neighborhood, appeared to be ignoring us for almost five years. If we were judging fruitfulness by what was visible we would have given up hope and missed the fruit they both began to bear which is now giving glory to the Father.

I do believe that cutting ties with people is sometimes necessary. We believe God can use even that to shake them up and bring them to Himself. But sometimes when it comes to “Kingdom of God Farming,” patiently waiting on the Lord to do what only His Holy Spirit can do is the best ministry we can do. This is countercultural to us Americans but then again isn’t that like the Lord?

Happy harvesting!

Invest in patience.