Thoughts along the way
Every gardener knows the value of preparing the soil. Getting out that rototiller and breaking up the ground is necessary before the seeds can be planted. A good gardener will also work mulch and fertilizer deep down into the soil to provide food and nutrients for seed. Even the most fertile seeds will have little chance of sprouting and taking root if the soil is not adequately prepared.
The Congregational Vitality Pathway is all about preparing the soil of our congregations to receive new life and vitality from God’s hand. Hosea talks of the need to breaking up the hard ground of our hearts. Psalm 126 say that if we till the soil and plant seeds with tears, we will reap a bountiful harvest with joy.
Jesus had this is mind when he shared the story of the Sower and the Seed. The sower encounters four types of soil as he plants his seed. Three soils are clearly not ready to receive the seed. Due to hardness, or shallowness or other poor conditions, the good fertile seed does not fair well. The soil is not prepared so the seeds never take root or if they do the sprouts quickly die. Fortunately, one soil is plowed, fertilized and ready! The seed planted in the good soil sprouts, takes root, grows and multiplies into an incredibly rich harvest. You would think the connection to our congregations would be obvious, but we often miss the point. How often do we start planting seeds without first preparing the soil? We start some new program or emphasis or lead a charge forward only to meet with poor results, low buy in from the congregation, and a quick fizzle. The natural tendency is then to fault the program or new emphasis and say, “well, that just didn’t work here.” The real problem may be not taking the time to prepare the soil to receive the new seed. Walking the Congregational Vitality Pathway preconditions the soil of the congregation and creates an environment where the marks of a healthy missional church can take root and grow and flourish. This takes time and effort because it is not about a quick surface level fix. The point is that change must take place deep in the soil before the roots of change and health can take hold with lasting impact. Remember, “The seed is always planted behind the plow”. To find out how your congregation can start on the path to being more healthy and missional church visit an upcoming workshop (http://vitalitypathway.org/upcoming-events) in your area or contact Phil Assink (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Steve Norman (email@example.com).