Remain in Me

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”

These disciples did remain in Christ, and God used them beyond their wildest imagination.

What is happening in this church?

This coming June, Tina and I look forward to visit her parents in the Florida town where Tina grew up. During our annual visits we typically attend a small church there. It’s the church where we were married nearly forty years ago. Today the church building sits in a declining neighborhood; most passersby don’t even know it’s there.The church’s pastor is a local. God delivered him from alcohol abuse, transformed his life, and called him into ministry. He doesn’t have much formal education. On Sunday mornings, he opens his bible, reads a few verses of Scripture, and explains it to the congregation. When time runs out, he closes his Bible. The next Sunday he opens his Bible and explains the next verses. His sermons are simple. The church music is anything but hip. There are no strobe lights, no big screen projections.

But the pastor’s leadership has impacted the church people and community. Most of the congregants are septuagenarians (or older) who have remained flexible to the twists and turns of God’s leading. They radiate the joy of Christ and unyielding submission to God’s Word. They live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. They reach out to neighbors who have nothing to give in return. They engage in evangelism, church planting, and leadership development among the world’s unreached people.

It certainly isn’t technique. Over the years this church has survived a split, decades of dysfunction, and near extinction. There isn’t really any reason to explain why they should continue to thrive.

Except one: Through their ups and downs, the pastor and congregation continue to remain in Jesus.

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