In their 2011 book, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results, Lovett Weems (Founding Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership in Washington DC) and Tom Berlin (Senior Pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon) describe, “The two most important words for fruitful leadership: so that.” (Page 19.)
They point out that the Bible has many examples of the importance of these two simple words: “so that.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)
Tom and Lovett insist that we (both individual followers of Jesus and congregations) who are sent into the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, need to have clear “so that” statements — so that we stay focused on our mission and purpose and accomplish the outcomes God intends.
In other words, it’s not enough to “do church” or even “do church” well. We “do church” so that the people we serve have life-changing encounters with the love and saving grace of God, so that they will love God, grow in faith, and serve Christ, so that they will become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
I’ll be honest, I’m both inspired and convicted by the way Tom and Lovett challenge us to think about who we are and what we do. I need a regular reminder that my life will bear fruit, and our lives together will bear fruit in ministry, when we “transform activities into outcomes using so that.” (From Bearing Fruit, page 24.)
My challenge for you, as we begin to emerge from the cloud of the pandemic, is to spend some time with the activities of your life — especially church activities — and work on a so that statement. I believe that if you do, your life will bear much fruit.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)