The problem with "fruitfulness"

Many UMC members and leaders these days are using the buzzword of fruitfulness. For a number of reasons fruitfulness is attractive language to a church that is in numeric decline. It also has strong biblical support, it is said that we should bear fruit. 

The problem with the emphasis of fruitfulness is that it is results oriented. If we have a tree in the back yard that is not bearing fruit, then we cut the thing down. Because what good is a fruit bearing tree if it bears no fruit?

Likewise, the assumption goes, what good is a fruit bearing church that bears no fruit?

Rather than having an emphasis on fruitfulness, perhaps we could have an emphasis on faithfulness. 

Sometimes a tree will not bear fruit because it is barren. This does not mean the tree is unfaithful (see the story of Sarah who was barren but faithful).

Focusing on faithfulness also is supported in the scriptures. In fact, we are called to be faithful and it is God through the power of the Holy Spirit produces fruit. If we are focused on bearing fruit than are we taking the role of the Holy Spirit? 

Finally, fruitfulness is another word that I tend to associate with the extrovert in all of us. The past two posts has touched on the need to bring balance to the over-valuing being extroverted in our understanding of our faith. I tend to assume that the image of bearing fruit (fruitfulness) is a verb associated with being extroverted. I mean fruit is an outward appearance on the tree.

No one can see the roots that provide for the fruit. Roots are not sexy. Roots are not fun to talk about. Roots are dirty and roots are unseen. Yet, the introvert side of us all might rather talk about the quality of our roots rather than the production of fruit. 

If we tend to our roots we may not be fruitful, but we are faithful.