Fruit without Soil

What a sad, but enlightening statement. . This came to me in an email last week. I know not ever congregation is like this, but way too many are:

So, that brings us to now: we are both at a point where we are really realizing the emptiness of the church we are in. We have not heard one sermon in our 4 years of being there about the heart of God, the character of Jesus, abiding in Christ, or really walking in Him and the life that can be found in Him. It’s all about how we can change our world, impact those around us, the need to walk in the spiritual disciplines, etc…

(These are) all good things, but it’s like asking a tree to produce fruit with no root and soil.

So for two firstborn, overachievers, more performance-based preaching actually feels like weed killer on the little seeds God is trying to grow in our hearts. But we’ve had a hard time making the break from the church, and at times feel a bit crazy for even thinking about doing so, because of the friends and involvement we’ve had. However, what we keep coming back to is the joy, life, and love we’ve both been experiencing in a way that 20 years of living in the Christian community has never brought us and that our effort to follow Jesus with all our hearts has never brought us.

Staying for friends is one of the best motives for hanging in there. But if the seeds of your hear are being consumed by the performance-based environment, then that isn’t even a good way to love them. In time it only traps people in the same emptiness. But find your life in him, and there’s no telling where he might lead you and you can keep on loving your friends in the meantime and still seek out relational time with them.

The problem with institutionalizing life, is that the life gets killed. I love that people are finding the courage to look beyond the emptiness of religion and making the choice to find life instead of staying safe. It is a choice we all have faced or will face in time.

Share this Post!

Related post

8 Comments
  1. mark brown March 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I’m glad that you made it “safely home” (into Sarah’s arms?) Wayne! But it makes me pray for those who are not in physical safety in the land you visited… in so many ways, this world is not our home.

    Re: the family in the above post… we can so relate!

    For our family, who are still somewhat “connected” in relationships with those attending services, I have seen the Lord love us all in ways that we might not have known if we’d have quickly said “Soyanora” (I apologize for probable horrendous Japanese sp.).

    We no longer see ourselves as traditional missionaries to the “un-churched” or the “churched”. Now, instead of thinking of ourselves as specially annointed ones sent by God to make converts… to a different way of “doing church”, and then attempting to plant/start diff. churches… we once again remember that somewhere we have been called to make disciples… teaching them what Jesus is teaching us – Love (abide in Him, lay down our lives for others,…). We now endeavor to walk deeper into the Son (Life and freedom) to live loved and loving our brethren wherever He has us.

    Ah yes, sermons. I have long ago been set free from placing any hope (whatsoever?) in another man to guide me into all truth. There is no doubt that “iron sharpens iron” and we learn most completely from the Spirit of truth in his whole body… but we certainly don’t receive that from one insecure man monologing week after week. In letting go of that former hope, I have been set free to love the sermonizer… and to see that I am still very much like him; I would be not too different in his position… it is apparent that “the position” is the problem; even for a man after God’s own heart!

    know the blessings you already have in Christ, M.

  2. mark brown March 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I’m glad that you made it “safely home” (into Sarah’s arms?) Wayne! But it makes me pray for those who are not in physical safety in the land you visited… in so many ways, this world is not our home.

    Re: the family in the above post… we can so relate!

    For our family, who are still somewhat “connected” in relationships with those attending services, I have seen the Lord love us all in ways that we might not have known if we’d have quickly said “Soyanora” (I apologize for probable horrendous Japanese sp.).

    We no longer see ourselves as traditional missionaries to the “un-churched” or the “churched”. Now, instead of thinking of ourselves as specially annointed ones sent by God to make converts… to a different way of “doing church”, and then attempting to plant/start diff. churches… we once again remember that somewhere we have been called to make disciples… teaching them what Jesus is teaching us – Love (abide in Him, lay down our lives for others,…). We now endeavor to walk deeper into the Son (Life and freedom) to live loved and loving our brethren wherever He has us.

    Ah yes, sermons. I have long ago been set free from placing any hope (whatsoever?) in another man to guide me into all truth. There is no doubt that “iron sharpens iron” and we learn most completely from the Spirit of truth in his whole body… but we certainly don’t receive that from one insecure man monologing week after week. In letting go of that former hope, I have been set free to love the sermonizer… and to see that I am still very much like him; I would be not too different in his position… it is apparent that “the position” is the problem; even for a man after God’s own heart!

    know the blessings you already have in Christ, M.

  3. Joel Brueseke March 10, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I was listening to Paul Anderson-Walsh speak a few years ago, and he commented Psalm 92. His words have stuck with me.

    Excerpt from Psalm 92:
    “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
    Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
    They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…”

    Paul brought up something about palm trees. He said something like, “Did you know that palm trees don’t bear fruit during their first ten years?” He went on to basically say that a palm tree spends that time getting its roots deeply and firmly established in the soil. If you look at the branches and leaves, the palm tree appears to simply be in a “Godward gaze.” (Paul was speaking with Steve McVey, and that’s a reference to Steve’s book, Godward Gaze).

    What I get out of this is that the palm tree’s focus isn’t bearing fruit, but rather the focus is getting established and rooted in the soil, and simply staring in the face of God. But sadly indeed, the church today is focused on fruit, fruit, fruit, apart from the soil of God’s unconditional love and pure grace. What they “bear” ends up being nothing more than the plastic bowl of fruit that sits on kitchen tables.

  4. Dwain Wheeler March 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    My wife and I left a similar church situation two years ago. However, we did not stop participating in a home group started by that church. Now, though we attend very small church, who’s pastor is firmly on the “journey,” we still enjoy fellowship with that group. I know now that I’m free from the “system” and can enjoy God’s love, still enjoy the company of my friends, yet be free to seek God’s will for me.

  5. Joel Brueseke March 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I was listening to Paul Anderson-Walsh speak a few years ago, and he commented Psalm 92. His words have stuck with me.

    Excerpt from Psalm 92:
    “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
    Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
    They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…”

    Paul brought up something about palm trees. He said something like, “Did you know that palm trees don’t bear fruit during their first ten years?” He went on to basically say that a palm tree spends that time getting its roots deeply and firmly established in the soil. If you look at the branches and leaves, the palm tree appears to simply be in a “Godward gaze.” (Paul was speaking with Steve McVey, and that’s a reference to Steve’s book, Godward Gaze).

    What I get out of this is that the palm tree’s focus isn’t bearing fruit, but rather the focus is getting established and rooted in the soil, and simply staring in the face of God. But sadly indeed, the church today is focused on fruit, fruit, fruit, apart from the soil of God’s unconditional love and pure grace. What they “bear” ends up being nothing more than the plastic bowl of fruit that sits on kitchen tables.

  6. Dwain Wheeler March 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    My wife and I left a similar church situation two years ago. However, we did not stop participating in a home group started by that church. Now, though we attend very small church, who’s pastor is firmly on the “journey,” we still enjoy fellowship with that group. I know now that I’m free from the “system” and can enjoy God’s love, still enjoy the company of my friends, yet be free to seek God’s will for me.

  7. Fran March 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    We also go to a place kind of like that. I like talking to people to find out how they’re doing. I am disappointed when the lights go down, the band starts playing and singers start clapping. We get one other opportunity (meet and greet) to talk before the how to do it sermon starts. After that’s done then people rush off to the rest of their day. We are blessed to have a smaller venue that has been in place for over thirty years; a group of friends that have attended that same church. But even that sometimes gets sidetracked by the larger gathering’s agenda. My husband and I make a practive of wandering around to other fellowships where we know people to make connections. We are thought of as strange for that but at least our friends are used to it by now. And it’s fun to bring people from different congregations together to talk together. They have more in common than they know!

  8. Fran March 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    We also go to a place kind of like that. I like talking to people to find out how they’re doing. I am disappointed when the lights go down, the band starts playing and singers start clapping. We get one other opportunity (meet and greet) to talk before the how to do it sermon starts. After that’s done then people rush off to the rest of their day. We are blessed to have a smaller venue that has been in place for over thirty years; a group of friends that have attended that same church. But even that sometimes gets sidetracked by the larger gathering’s agenda. My husband and I make a practive of wandering around to other fellowships where we know people to make connections. We are thought of as strange for that but at least our friends are used to it by now. And it’s fun to bring people from different congregations together to talk together. They have more in common than they know!

Comments are closed.