Are You Getting Apples or Apple Trees?

Are You Getting Apples or Apple Trees?
November 11, 2014 CVDaily Editors

In the secular workplace, the key to job security is to be needed because others can’t do the job as well. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a similar mind-set in the church.

When Windows and Mac offered new visual interfaces, suddenly anybody could run a computer. The priesthood of geeks didn’t like this change! It felt better to fix something for people rather than show them how to do it themselves because this helped maintain the mystique that you were special.

It’s been much the same in the church’s recent history. An attitude of confusion about the role of ministers is one of the biggest problems in churches today. The classic illustration is the apple tree. What’s the purpose of an apple tree—to produce apples? No! The purpose of an apple tree is to produce new apple trees. It’s also, for example, not the purpose of a youth minister to minister to all the young people. Rather, it’s the purpose of the youth minister to raise up new ministry leaders who can minister to youth.

This can be a hard ministry concept to accept. After all, isn’t our exclusive position what makes us special? But this attitude is precisely what leads people to believe they don’t need to serve because “that’s your job.” Ministry has now been assigned to the work of the professional church staffer. Instead of disciples, church people now see themselves as consumers. And the church fails to fulfill Christ’s commission to go and make disciples.

So what’s your ministry about? Is it about you and what you know? Or is it about multiplying your impact by teaching others everything you know—scattering the seeds that will become new ministers?

Once you start finding personal joy and fulfillment in the ministry successes of those you’ve raised up, rather than in your own, you’ll find that if feels far better than that exclusive priesthood ever did.


  1. Susan Moon 10 years ago

    Man oh man did your apple hit me on the top of the head! My pastor
    and I have been talking about this for a LONG time, and I have not
    made much progress in building the body of Christ’s disciples. I have
    thought of many, many reasons and some of them are even true (!),
    but unless we let God USE us for his purpose to make disciples we
    end up being discouraged, burnt out and wondering what the plan is
    all about. I am blessed with my pastor’s support and guidance when
    he could have made my job harder. I needed the bonk on the head from the apple to know it’s not only me out here! Thank you.

    • Bob D'Ambrosio 10 years ago

      Susan – thanks for the affirmation. You are not alone…many church leaders were trained to be Apples and are happy to do that to justify their salary. Guess we do need to see the big picture, the full Apple farm that is producing fruit for generations to come. Keep up the work in the Kingdom…I’m sure you are a blessing to your pastor, and the people you lead!

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