About Fourth Year Ministries

Fourth Year Ministries exists to raise awareness of the biblical function of evangelists in the local church.

Fourth Year Ministries is a ministry of Howell Bible Church. So where does the name "Fourth Year Ministries" come from? It is based on a parable Jesus told in Luke 13:6-9, which unfolds like this:
Then Jesus told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the worker who tended the vineyard, 'For three years now, I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and each time I inspect it I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue to deplete the soil?' But the worker answered him, 'Sir, leave it alone this year too, until I dig around it and put fertilizer on it. Then if it bears fruit next year, very well, but if not, you can cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9, NET)
The point is that the landowner expects fruit. When he doesn't find any he wants the tree cut down. We recognize that this language is very similar to the language Jesus uses in the letters to the churches found in Revelation where he threatens unrepentant churches that fail to produce fruit. It should be relatively uncontroversial to say that God expects fruit - both from individual Christians and from local churches.

We also make the following observations from this parable in Luke 13:

  1. The landowner is patient in searching for fruit but his patience will not last forever.
  2. The decision to remove the tree is not simply because of the lack of fruit. A fruitless tree is not only worthless on its own but it becomes a detriment to its surroundings. In the parable, the landowner didn't want the tree to deplete the soil for other plants growing in his vineyard. Lack of fruit in our individual lives and in our local churches does not just affect ourselves - it affects those around us, too!
  3. The worker's response demonstrates he was not afraid of working toward a solution and turning the situation around. He is hopeful that working toward producing fruit will yield reward. He also knows that the tree itself must be prompted to bring forth fruit - he can't simply hang some fruit on the branches and celebrate his accomplishment!
  4. The hopeful worker first plans to dig around the tree. He seeks to remove anything that may be choking out fruitfulness from the surroundings.
  5. The hopeful worker then intends to provide proper nourishment for the tree in the form of fertilizer. This response demonstrates that the worker understands that he cannot make the tree bring forth fruit, but he can encourage the tree to do what its nature intends for it to do by removing hindrances and providing healthy stimulus.
  6. Finally, the hopeful worker says that if this effort is done and still no fruit is produced, then it is right to cut it down. If the tree bears no fruit under these circumstances then the tree is beyond hope.
We are like that hopeful worker - we recognize that we cannot bring forth fruit by external means. Therefore, we do not sell a program or claim to be able to come and produce fruit for a fee. Instead, we seek to help remove hindrances and promote health primarily by focusing on the church leadership design given by Jesus for his church as revealed to the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians.

We encourage removing the hindrances of man-made leadership designs which glorify our human institutions and leaders. We encourage the healthy stimulus of moving toward Jesus' leadership design. We focus on glorifying God, edifying the saints, and evangelizing the world. With this foundation rightly laid fruitfulness is inevitable.

We are unified with all who hold to the biblical gospel and who trust in Christ alone. We are eager to work and pray with you about how we can bring forth more fruit in our own lives and our local congregations for the glory of our God.

Our co-founder, Joe Kohler, has written two books on the church and on church leadership that we encourage you to check out. If you have further questions, please contact us or check out our frequently asked questions page!

Don't forget to like us on Facebook (facebook.com/fourthyearministries)!

Contact us by email: joe@howellbible.org

Mailing Address:
Fourth Year Ministries
C/O Howell Bible Church
1871 N. Eager Rd.
Howell, MI 48855

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:36, NET)