Is it possible that we’ve made church too complicated? That perhaps its just too hard? Harder than maybe its supposed to be?
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus tells a story about a farmer that scatters seed. I always thought the point of the whole story was the soil types. A basic lesson taught on Matthew 13:3-9 always ends with the challenge question: "Which type of soil are YOU?"
Good question, I guess. Important to know. But is it the only question? Is it the MOST important question that arises from Jesus' parable?
Sure, I suppose it makes sense that the seed will grow in the good soil. I'm no Martha Stewart, but even I get that. I understand that if the seed doesn't get below the surface, it might get eaten by a bird, trapped in the grooves of a tennis shoe, etc. It makes sense that if there are rocks present, and the seed can't grow, flourish, and take root, it just doesn't work. And I certainly understand that an over abundance of weeds will choke the seed and keep it from being what it should be.
But what strikes me about the farmer is that none of that mattered to him! He just, well, scattered seed. He apparently wasn't worried about running out of the seed - he seemed to have a never-ending supply. He didn't care too much where the seed landed, as long as "scattering" was taking place. Almost as though he was hopeful that regardless of the soil, maybe, just maybe, the conditions might change and cause the seed to flourish.
Hmmmm.... am I guilty of seed hoarding? Of protecting my small handful of perceived "limited" seed and only using it when absolutely necessary? In the areas where I think it will reap the greatest reward?
Seems like sometimes I'm a pretty good, careful steward of seed. Maybe the church is, too.
But isn't what we need a revolution of sorts in our methods of farming? Maybe we need to follow the example of the farmer in the parable, the example Jesus wants us to see after all. Maybe we need to develop a lifestyle of being "radically generous seed flingers."
Instead of just being "seed flingers," we've over-plotted, cleverly programmed, and conditioned ourselves to believe that the entire notion of doing church is just so hard. It's just so hard to reach the culture. And don't get me started on how "hard" it is to tell others about God!!
The farmer knew that there were places the seed would grow and places it wouldn't. He just scattered! That was his task! He wasn't going to run out!
You and I should be seed flingers. Infiltrating our communities with love, generosity, compassion, care.
Steve Sjogren is responsible for turning me on to this notion, and provided me the insight about the farmer being a careless scatterer. He's written several books about "flinging seeds," most notably The Conspiracy of Kindness. He mentions in a recent article a church in NYC called Journey Church. It was started in 2002 with 0 people. In the last 3 years, they have tracked some 500,000 acts of kindness and generosity in the hearts of New Yorkers. The result? Over 1,000 are currently checking out Journey Church, looking to find out what motivates these people to be so kind, generous, and counter-culture.
Was that difficult? Well, for some of us, maybe being kind is hard work. Perhaps many don't realize the impact of a simple act of kindness. But I'm more and more convinced that we're to be "radically generous seed flingers" above all else - in the check-out line, in traffic, with our finances, with our time. I think an army of us giving that a real shot could be scary good.
Parting Shot: Paul wrote in Romans 2:4 that "the kindness of God leads you to repentance." Hmmm...