Earlier this year, God spoke to us as a community about being an Isaac-spirited community; a community that sowed in famine like Isaac did in Genesis 26. After sowing seed, Isaac opened up some blocked wells that his father had previously dug. He was more governed by well than weather-system. And God caused gave him a hundred-fold yield. We felt that God was calling us beyond survival, but to thrive and even provide in famine.
So as a community we resolved to sow irrespective of the season; to sow financially, to sow in time and service, to sow in prayer. We wanted to liberally scatter Gospel seed in both word and deed, knowing that an All-Sufficient God was a well of resource as we scattered.
And by God's goodness and grace it has been a year of visible and tangible fruit. Its a complicated thing to try and measure 'yield' in a church - so much of what God does is qualitative not just quantitative, but there are a few clear indicators
that include both.
We have welcomed in around 100 people into membership this year. That is crowd becoming community. We have baptized around 30 believers too. This means believers becoming disciples. We have seen a large increase in percentage of people volunteering and attending life groups too. Around 25% increase in percentage attendance. That means consumers are becoming partners. We launched our Porterbrook training course too, which is training 30 people from 3 churches with a view to church planting. This indicates that leaders are becoming planters. We also began our Thrive mentoring initiative where around 25 college age Christians have been intensively mentored by some of our more seasoned saints. This means disciples are making disciples. We also set in 25 deacons, and are about to launch another 5 life groups. This means disciples are becoming leaders.
Financially there has been significant fruit too. By cutting back on spending and an increasing in giving in the community, we have not only been able to pay off the majority of a significant lawyers debt, we have also managed a surplus in our monthly budget the last year. In a year where we have been paying off debt, we have also increased our giving and activity among the needy and in the city. We have not just survived. By God's grace we have provided.
Then there are the less measurable but still tangible evidences of fruit, like people putting their faith in Christ, repenting of sin, getting healed of sickness, marriages being reconciled, the oppressed and addicted finding freedom, people encountering the presence of God and the prophetic, the lonely and broken finding family.
Numerous ministry initiatives have also been started this year that are bearing early fruit already. These include 133, 'laugh your way to a better marriage, lights jnr. high, mommy co, a sexual redemption group, lose to gain, mobile closet, near east/far east and 'men's meat night'. All these are the result of people who have sowed with vision, faith and fervor.
We are an imperfect church, stumbling forwards. But we are a church that has been richly resourced by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we are filled with praise and awe at God's goodness. My point is partly that we recognize with gratitude how much God has done, but also that we understand the seed contained in some of this fruit is seed that needs to be sown again for greater yield, instead of consumed.
A good farmer always leaves some of his crop as seed for the next crop expecting an increase Jesus said, "Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot bear fruit." He was talking about Himself. He was talking about us.
So let's not eat our seed, but rather expect a larger Gospel yield in 2012 as we sow more Gospel seed in both word and deed.
Here we sow again.