The Bible is full of farming references and I’m not sure if it’s because we are getting ready for the York Fair, my Missouri farm roots, or the fact we are planting a church, but I can’t stop thinking about farming metaphors lately. The great thing about using farming as metaphor for starting and “growing” a church is that although the technology and methods have changed since “bible times”, the principles of farming are still the same. No matter how much equipment or technology you have, you still have to plant seeds, wait for them to grow,cultivate, depend on God for the weather and conditions, and harvest…just like in Jesus’s day!
Using that analogy we are truly in the season of “planting” actionchurch. Here’s a couple of things I’ve been thinking about planting.
- You have to get out in the fields to plant. You can’t plant from the farmhouse or from the barn. You have to get out in the “dirty” “rough” ground of the fields to plant seeds.
- Planting is risky. Nothing is more risky for a farmer than taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, seed, and fuel out into a field and “risking” them in the soil. There are no guarantees in planting. Sometimes you get a huge crop, sometimes you get washed out…it’s up to God.
- Planting is a “numbers” game. You have to plant a lot of seed, for some of it to come up, for even less of it to truly flourish and be “profitable”. Jesus talked about this principle in the Parable of the Sower.
- Planting must be repeated! If you plant a crop and harvest it and don’t replant the field, the next year a few straggling plants will come up on their own…farmers call them “volunteer crops”. Farmers know you have to plant every year because you certainly can’t live off “volunteer crops”. We want to make sure that planting is in the DNA of actionchurch. We can never stop planting just because the church is “up and running”. I think the major cause of the lack of “harvesting” in American churches is not because the “fields” are bad, or they don’t have seed…it’s just that very few churches are out in the field planting! So many “farm hands” are sitting in the barn waiting for the “volunteer crops” to straggle in!
- The more you harvest…the more seed you can plant! God has an amazing plan for farmers…and churches. When the miracle of a seed “dying in the ground” and a new plant beginning happens, it’s exponential! The new plant doesn’t just produce enough to “consume”. Each new plant produces thousands of new seeds! I believe that God’s principle for both the church and the farmer is that the more we “harvest” – the more “seed” God expects a wise farmer or church to plant back into the “fields”. God is the creator of “church growth”…it’s part of his nature!
9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9