Becoming Fine Wine
I have learned to appreciate fine wine. This past week I visited two wineries in Sonoma County. The First was Nicholson's Ranch. Nicholson's has won a number of gold medals in distinguished wine tasting events in recent years. They're 100% organic. They practice sustainable farming, they purposefully keep things small. They store everything in barrels of oak, not steel. They add minimal sulfites to their wines. They do zero marketing. They trust they will sell their wine via word of mouth. They pride themselves in being artisans and developing the highest quality of wines possible. They love what they do and they create amazing wines. The second winery was Francis Coppola's ranch. They are one of the biggest wine makers in the valley. It was like going to Disney World. The first part of the tour was an exploration in memorabilia from the Godfather; a rare Tucker car, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. We were wowed by how they could fill 200 bottles of wine in a minute, the beauty of the labels, the packaging, and the mass production capacity. The wine is stored in steel containers, for the most part, with oak chips thrown in. The level of sulfites was much higher than Nicholson's. The wine was not nearly as good.
Nicholson's makes a much better wine, but you can't buy it at the local liquor store. Coppola's wine is not nearly as good, but you can buy it almost anywhere.
All of this has me wondering about what kind of church we are becoming at Restoration. As followers of Jesus, we are to become like a great wine (John 15). We are to keep innovating in our efforts to go deeper and wider with the gospel (Matthew 9:17). We will be judged by the quantity of disciples we make as well as the quality (Matthew 25; Matthew 5:16).
Where have my prayerful musings on the quantity/quality tension and my recent experience of two wine ranches taken me? I believe God wants Restoration to produce great disciples, not average ones. We are to be discipleship artisans. We are to be excellent at spiritual formation. We are also to reach as many people with the gospel as we possibly can. We must live in the tension of making better disciples and making more disciples at the same time. The danger is in choosing quantity over quality or the other way around.
We must depend on God to help us become artisans of discipleship while being accessible to as many people as possible. Working together in being artisans of developing the highest quality of disciples is much like the process of becoming fine wine.