Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Keep It Simple

Staying on task for Jesus

Matthew 13:18-23 "Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:

19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.

20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.

22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

At my church we are discussing what it means to do church in the culture that we live in today. We are going to be looking at the effectiveness of the programs that we have been utilizing for the past decades, is there a better way to reach people for salvation and once they are saved, is there a better way to make disciples out of them? Are we even trying to make disciples?

Any farmer can tell you that you can't have rock hard soil, you can't have people walking all over the garden trampling the seed, and it's not a good practice to throw your seeds out in the middle of the thorns. If we really believe these gardening principles then we should be doing everything that we can to improve the soil before we waste our seed.

A missionary friend corrected someone on our mission trip to Greece, there wasn't any evidence that the ministry was going to produce fruit and as we usually say on the mission field when this happens "we are planting seeds for somebody else to harvest." But our friend told us that we weren't even planting seeds he said that we were still busy kicking the rocks out of the way. The question is how are we doing at reaching out to people where they are? Are we cultivating the soil?

Do we even realize that every Sunday our church fills up with people that resemble all of the soil conditions that Jesus mentioned in Matthew, they are all inside our buildings listening to the teachers and singers and the preacher, they are participating in our programs but for some reason their soil condition doesn't change.

Programs are not bad, we need some kind of program to help us focus our energy, but the complexity and quantity of programs and the lack of clarity as to what that program is there for, that is what makes our programs just a bunch of busy work that isn't making a dent in the gates of hell.

The church should be doing everything that it can to cultivate the soil, then plant the seed and then we can produce fruit bearing disciples. We need to focus on a process, we need to ask ourselves if we have a deliberate process that will help us move people toward Jesus from conversion to discipleship?

I will pray for my pastor as he leads us in this study of our programs and processes.

Lord, help us to focus on the programs and the processes that you would have our church focus our energy on. Help us to focus on moving people from where they are to becoming fruitful disciples.