Is God Pruning His Church?

Yesterday morning in two consecutive and unrelated phone calls, the person on the other end of each call made a reference to God pruning the church. I don’t know about you, but the topic of pruning doesn’t typically come up in my conversations: not daily, weekly, or even monthly! So when it was brought up twice in unrelated conversations within an hour, I figured God just might be trying to get my attention!
Before yesterday, I remember the last time I had a conversation with someone about pruning. In early August, I went to visit my dad in Iowa and he had just finished cutting the dead branches out of a three-story vine that had been left to grow for several years up the entire side of his house. Apparently, a late freeze had killed more than half of the vine, so my dad cut out only the dead branches, leaving all the branches that still showed signs of life. And the vine now looks terrible, so Dad and I discussed pruning even the living branches to promote new growth and to help revitalize the vine.
It seems counter-intuitive to cut back the little bit of life that the vine has left. Even though the growth was uneven and unsightly, it was still life and growth and both Dad and I had a hard time even talking about pruning the living branches. But any experienced gardener knows that the secret to the most beautiful vines is appropriately timed pruning: living branches are cut back to promote healthier, more fruitful growth in the future.
Jesus told his disciples about how God prunes us in John 15. He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”
In reading Jesus’ words, it seems to me that pruning is essential to healthy, fruitful growth of God’s church. Whenever we experience God pruning his church, it will likely seem counter-intuitive to us at first. We may lament what is going on as God cuts out that which is dead and cuts back even that which is alive. Undoubtedly, we experience pain through this process. We may look at ourselves and shudder at the unsightliness of the present state of the church. But God calls us to trust him in what he is doing to bring about healthy, fruit-bearing new growth for the future of his church. After all, it’s his church, his vine … not ours.
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or Like us on Facebook: