Out on a walk around my neighborhood this weekend, I saw this pitiful lemon tree in my neighbor’s front yard and I took this photo. Somebody should just pull this dumb lemon tree out of the ground and throw it in the green recycle bin. I mean just look at it! There’s only one ridiculous, lonely, lemon on the entire tree. It’s truly a sorry excuse to even be called a “lemon tree.” I say this because everyone knows that a tree needs to be much bigger, and have a whole lot more lemons hanging from it. To be a real lemon tree you have to be bigger and have more – right? Of course all of you would probably tell me, “Man, Andy you sure woke up on the wrong side of the bed today! What’s your problem!? That cute little lemon tree is showcasing the full reality of how alive it really is. It’s producing fruit! Who cares how big it is and how many lemons are hanging on it? It is alive, and because it is alive it is showcasing it’s life by generating that one beautiful lemon.”
Why am I talking about this lemon tree? Because it is a parable of how so many Christian’s in North America view churches. We tend to look at small churches in the same way I described this lemon tree. We think of small churches as “pitiful” with only “one ridiculous, lonely” aspect of fruit. There is this prevailing belief that “everyone knows that a church needs to be much bigger, and have a whole lot more programs, bodies, buildings, and bucks. To be a real church you have to be bigger and have more – right?” Wrong. Jesus asks His church to produce fruit, and as much as we North American’s like to live in the mythology of our control, we’re really not in control of the scale of the fruit we produce. There are all kinds of churches of all kinds of sizes and types and fruitfulness. They are all legitimate when they contain a “pure and simple devotion to Jesus Christ” that produces some fruitfulness of more and better followers of Jesus – regardless of the size and scale.