Faithfulness, Fruitfulness and Furtickness
It is good of Todd to come back to me about fruitfulness (there's not been enough back and forth on Ref 21 for a while) and I appreciate that if you start caring about fruitfulness too much you might end up like Steve Furtick. I'm not sure the slippery slope, thin end of the wedge logic is completely watertight but we reformed folk have used it to great effect in many other areas so why stop using it here? I'll never forget being told if you start singing Graham Kendrick you're bound to end up charismatic, plus once you stop using the Authorised version it's not long till you're part of the occult.
I suspect there is a danger we are talking past each other with regards to fruitfulness, but having borrowed a copy of Center Church. I think Keller's approach is quite helpful. He states that there are three models for evaluation of ministry--success (looking at numbers) faithfulness (looking at doctrinal soundness) and fruitfulness (using the term Biblically, meaning sanctification and conversions.) He quotes Spurgeon (old school or new school?) who said that many good men are doctrinally sound and zealous and passionate but so unskilful in preaching and pastoring that "nothing comes of it all", namely their people don't grow in sanctification and there are no conversions.
Now of course these can't be absolutised, in the same way that Proverbs can't be turned into a universal law. There are occasions when the fruit isn't seen for generations to come but just because we can't absolutise something does not mean that we shouldn't use it. Ordinarily, however, there will be fruit from a faithful ministry and we should expect that.
An unhealthy obsession with unbiblical success, which is what Todd had in the mega church, is different from fruitfulness. In the life of any church, and particularly in Presbytery, judgement calls have to be made regarding fruitfulness. There's no way round that. Both Todd and Rick will have to make judgement calls on fruitfulness of ministry. That's just the nature of the job.