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Jesus is giving His disciples final instructions before His arrest, with a view toward abiding fruit in ministry. The Holy Spirit is the primary Helper in this next phase of ministry. But what does the abiding fruit of ministry look like? It's not so much growth in numbers. It's growth in character.
Sure, it involves multiple people; numbers of people are not irrelevant! But the point of, say, Pentecost is not just that 3,000 people expressed faith, but that 3,000 people began a journey toward real fruit that remains—transformation in love, joy, peace, endurance and strength under control in the image of God. Thousands of people came forward that day, but that wasn't the ultimate fruitful goal.
It was their transformation into God's image—the long-term work of discipleship and growth. That's the fruit that remains. Big events can give a jump-start to fruit that remains. They can identify people who are thirsty, and they can equip people with basic tools to further their journey of growth. But they are not, in and of themselves, the fruit that remains.
As women after God's heart who long to minister in His name, I encourage you to be watchful for the individual woman who longs for someone to speak grace and truth into her life. Take her to coffee and listen to her heart. Ask follow-up questions, and point her to the God who has worked in your life. And please do not let women who seem to have big public ministries weigh you down or cause you to undervalue the power of one-on-one conversation.
Women have discipled me privately, and their investment over coffee or lunch has ministered great grace to me, drawing me toward greater love, peace and gentleness in the Lord. And I now, in turn, invest as well, believing deeply in this work of ministry—over coffee, over a meal or at a playground while corralling little ones. These small moments of sowing seeds are powerful long-term as God brings lasting fruit in His name.
Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books including By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.