PHOENIX (BP) — Drawing from John 15, Kelly Minter, an author, songwriter and speaker, shared about fruit-bearing — and God’s intentional pruning — in ministry. “I don’t want to just accomplish goals,” she told a sold-out crowd of over 1,000 ministers’ wives at the 2017 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. “I want to bear fruit … that lasts!”
The June 13 event featuring Minter was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.
Minter recently published her fifth Bible study curriculum, “All Things New: A Study of 2 Corinthians,” an addition to her popular Living Room Series. In addition to writing, Minter has recorded several albums, including “Hymns & Hallelujahs,” an acoustic collection of original songs and favorite hymns, some of which are featured on the All Things New teaching videos.
Throughout the program, held in the North Ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center, Minter noted many are impressed by the “appearance of fruit” rather than the actual fruit itself. But God says, “I have chosen you, appointed you, set you apart specifically to go and produce fruit that lasts into eternity,” she said.
Pointing to the many modern-day idols people attach themselves to, Minter admitted she has attached her “branch” to other vines: the music business, her social status, a Pinterest-y kitchen, among others. “I’ve been a vine-hopper over the years,” she said.
The “true” vine
But Jesus is the “true” vine (John 15:1), the “real, genuine vine that can be trusted, that will never fail you,” she said. We bear fruit when we are attached to the true vine, she said, explaining that the “Gardener” or “Vinedresser” has the right to prune us, using sheers to remove unneeded branches (John 15:2).
God prunes in two different ways. He prunes out the sin in our lives (the “bad for the good”) for there to be “more fruit” (John 15:2). He also prunes out the good for the better to produce “much fruit” (John 15:5).
Pruning equals more fruit
We bear “more fruit” when we are surrendered to the Vinedresser, Minter said, sharing some of the ups and downs in her music career, which at one point seemed to be moving in reverse. “I could not turn anything over. I’ve never seen anything NOT WORK this much!” she exclaimed, explaining her realization later that “God was pruning me and getting me ready for what I am doing now.”
It was when she visited the Amazon, at a local pastor’s conference, that God “wrecked my life,” she said. Twenty-six pastors and their wives had traveled days, facing “unbelievable poverty and insecurity,’ capturing their own food, and enduring capsized boats, to attend the event.
“I [felt] so low and unworthy when … with these women,” she said about the Amazonian pastors’ wives. Suddenly, she felt her music industry dreams fading into the reality of true ministry in Christ.
“I wouldn’t have traded that time with them for any money, success, record sales, book deals — absolutely nothing,” she said. “I would have missed it if I had been my own vinedresser.”
“As the Lord takes His gardener shears, He’s never closer to that vine,” she affirmed, urging the ministers’ wives to surrender to and remain in the Vinedresser.
Remaining in Christ equals much fruit
We bear “much fruit” when we remain in Christ (John 15:4-5), Minter stressed. “I am not satisfied with ‘more fruit.’ I want ‘much fruit.'” People in her generation, once on fire to serve the Lord, are dropping out instead of allowing God to prune them, she said. They fell short “because they stopped remaining in Him.”
She told the ministers’ wives, “I want you to remain … no matter how hard it is right now. Continue on, because you have been chosen and appointed to bear much fruit.”
Referring to this year’s theme, “Brave,” based on Proverbs 31:25, Lori Frank, luncheon president, told the ministers’ wives how she and her team has prayed they would step bravely into their calling in their individual communities, be “clothed in strength and dignity,” and bravely “laughing without fear at the future.” “It is not in your power or self-sufficiency,” Frank said. “It’s in the power of the Gospel that ministers to us every day that we can carry into our communities around us.”
In other business, ministers’ wives awarded Ann Iorg the 2017 Willie Turner Dawson Award, which recognizes a minister’s wife for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and for her Christian character and service to others. She is married to Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary (formerly Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) in Ontario, Calif.
In the lobby outside the ballroom, a Pastors’ Wives Expo offered resources to “expose, engage, enlighten and empower ministry wives” through displays for new Bible studies, ministry support and evangelistic tools.
Officers for the 2018 luncheon in Dallas, with the theme “Restored,” based on Psalm 23:3, are Elizabeth Luter of New Orleans, president; Jeana Caton of Allen, Texas, vice president; Lisa George of Rogers, Ark., corresponding secretary, and Karen Green of Jacksonville, Fla., secretary/treasurer.
Next year’s featured speaker for the June 12 luncheon will be author and Bible teacher Lisa Harper.
Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Columbia, Md.