Three Cheers for a Bit of Back and Forth

Actually, I was sort of hoping Paul and I would disagree so sharply that a series of angry and increasingly sarcastic posts would follow, thus upping our readership. Alas, it does not appear that such a deep disagreement has occurred. But there is always time my friends.

I am not quite as sanguine about "Center Church" as is Paul. It's not that I dislike the book. Some of it is helpful. But I am not sure I know how to practically distinguish between Keller's categories of "success" and "fruitfulness." It's not that I don't understand the categories as Keller describes them. I am just not convinced that we are good at telling the difference between the two in practical terms. In other words, how do we know when we are measuring one and not the other? When does counting conversions become dangerous for my soul? If there are a great many conversions then I can understand why I would want to count them--and make sure you know the score as well. But what of the many laborers who faithfully toil in the fields of the Lord only to see meager fruit? Should they be judged as failures? Have they been unfruitful? Is God displeased with them?

As I write I am wondering if perhaps the heart of my problem is that measuring fruitfulness too easily becomes boasting in success.

I certainly am sensitive to the reality Paul points to in the Spurgeon (definitely new school) quote. God help us if we ever become so smug in our faithfulness to sound doctrine and practice that we no longer cry out for the conversion of sinners and the sanctity of the saints. I certainly do not want to emulate one brother who praises Lutherans precisely because no one knows they are around.

Perhaps my hesitancy is due to the fact that I know my own heart well enough that I, like King David, desire to number the people (converts, disciples, etc) that I might glory in my own kingdom.

Whatever the case, for me at least, faithfulness is the key. It is where I must remain focused. And an indispensable component of that faithfulness is to labor and pray for what God surely desires: a great harvest of souls for God's glory and the gladness of His church.