Curious, by Jo Hood, is a monthly column. Jo is the Visionary/CEO of mainly Ministries and loves collecting stories of fruitfulness, whānau flourishing, and churches connecting with their community. Even more, she loves sharing stories for others to find common ground and consider their relevance for local ministry. 

The verses from Matthew where Jesus spoke about the light on the hill and the flavour of salt - What does it mean in terms of community-facing connections? I think saltiness is more about ‘us’, whereas fruitfulness is what God brings about. 

Our friends from mainly music and mainly play say when people are salty, they demonstrate it like this: 

>> We act in a way that allows Jesus to be seen. We don’t force an agenda. It’s the provision of a space for people to consider who Jesus is. It’s a matter of both/and 

>> We are willing to pray on the spot for people who express they have a concern, a care, or a celebration. We’re also willing to spend time caring, providing kai/a meal, and being generous. 

>> We prioritise people over tasks. The dishes will wait; they’ll get done a little later than originally anticipated. Generosity is shown in our time spent with people. 

>> We place importance on our personal journey as a follower of Jesus, prioritising time with Him in the scriptures and talking with others about living as a follower. 

>> We are willing to share our experience of God. That experience comes through being a follower of Jesus. 

Without saltiness, I think it’s hard to see fruit that has eternal significance. As I wrote this column, I found stories of mainly Ministries’ partners who had seen significant fruitfulness.  

Like this: Almost every week, I comment about our church. I say in our time together, “James made a comment on Sunday about this verse, and I thought it was something you all might want to know.” Of course, James is the minister and regularly appears at the connecting time. In this group, one mother recently told Deb that she would start coming on a Sunday because Tuesday wasn’t going to work anymore. “Did you realise we don’t do ‘this’ on Sundays? We do church, though, and it looks like this….” Sure enough, Mum has been coming with her tamaiti/child. This team regularly champions each other to be available to whānau/families, both in the session and during the week. 

In another group, Peg says that one Māmā/mother, brought up in a Christian family, found herself disappointed with some actions of a church and, as a result, left. But through her connection in this community-facing group, she now attends church each week with her husband. He is still exploring who Jesus is. Again, Peg regularly links their connection to their church and, as a team, offers to pray with people, attend to the practical needs of whānau/families, and hang out with whānau/families. 

Fruitfulness 

This involves God. In the parable of the farmer, the ground is prepared, and the seed is sown, but the seed’s germination and growth happen through God’s activity. 

>> Low hanging, but still fruit, is observing the growth in tamariki/children. The sessions resourced by mainly Ministries provide a place where they can learn, develop and experience educational concepts. And they grow – in confidence, vocabulary, ability, and social connection – these are tamariki/children who enter school with additional skills to draw on. As a team, you’d want to celebrate more than this fruitfulness.

>> Adults are singing the God songs after previously appearing disengaged. 

>> Adults are speaking about the toughness of life and then being open to prayer. 

>> Adults are asking for prayer. They’re taking trypraying, a booklet that leads people through seven sessions of prayer. People are now generally commenting on prayer.

>> The fruit of the spirit is noticeable in more and more whānau/families. There are changes in the people who attend. They are flourishing.

>> Regular faith conversations are happening. People are asking about who God is, what Jesus has done, and questions are asked in response to something said in the session. 

>> Team members are maturing in their faith and speaking about the activity of God, not only to each other but within their normal conversations with people who are not yet followers of Jesus.

>> Church support is visible because there’s an understanding that ‘people attending on Sunday’ isn’t the main game. The most important outcome is that people are drawn to a relationship with Jesus. Adults love what you are doing, want to get involved, and they regularly ask how the sessions are progressing.

How’s this for fruitfulness? Another story from a partner group: Last year, Mum had elective surgery for a double mastectomy. She had a nominal faith connection, and her husband had never been inside a church building. While recovering from surgery, tamariki/their children were brought to church by Dad. When the oldest turned five, a Bible published for tamariki/children was presented. Mum told our team this year that their whānau/family has started a new tradition. Tamariki/The children are read a Bible story by Dad each night! 

What’s your experience of saltiness and fruitfulness? 


Photo: supplied by mainly Ministries, from iStock 

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