One of the problems that hinder the growth of many people and churches is the existence of unproductive members. Unproductive members are those people that do nothing to promote or assist in the development and growth of the church. There are people who have their names on the roll of a church but who are never active in their service to God. These unproductive people may be good people but they are not right with God. They are not right with God because they are failing to grow or to contribute anything to the church as it works to grow and mature, even though they know that the Bible teaches them to grow in such passages as 2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” NKJV. In the parable of the barren fig tree, we can see that people who are unproductive (i.e., fail to grow and produce fruit) are discarded by the Lord – discarded, in the sense of being rejected as useless and unacceptable to God.
Luke 13:6-9 – The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree:
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'” NKJV
One of the interesting thoughts advanced via the parable in Luke 13:6-9 is the fact that even though the fig tree is failing to produce, God says that it is to be cared for a while longer in hopes that it will gain strength and begin to produce – viz. verse 8-9.
The church is made up of a plurality of people, whenever one of the members of the church shows that they are failing to produce good fruit it is time for the rest of the congregation to assist that member in an attempt to get him/her back on track. If the unproductive member cannot be encouraged to participate and contribute to the work and growth of the congregation, the elders are to discipline such a one.
A Christian cannot just quit doing the work which will glorify God, quit encouraging the brethren, quit financially supporting the work, quit visiting the needy and shut-in, quit studying, and quit attending services and still be considered a productive member. Whenever a Christian ceases to be productive in their service to God and to their fellow man, they have surely missed the mark.