Growing a Ministry
Our family does a lot of gardening. Both my father and my grandfather each plant gardens every year and produce a surprising quantity of food for the size of the respective gardens. Two things that are crucial to the survival of the plants are choosing the correct time to start growing and pulling weeds. I am going to teach one of my takes on the famous parable of the sower and hopefully give you a distinct perspective on ministry.
The parable (Matthew 13:3-9): “Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
There are five types of seeds mentioned in this passage: seeds on the path, seeds in the rocks, seed in the sun, seeds in the thorns, and seeds in good soil. In terms of ministry, we have to know how to cultivate what we’ve been given to produce fruit. In all practicality, sometimes we cannot simply pick up and move to good soil for any number of reasons. Perhaps our soil was initially good and the quality of it changed due to neglect. Instead of talking about how we can abandon our current plots to get to new soil, I want to talk about how to take what you have been given and turn it into good soil.
Ministry on the Path: Sometimes our ministries our sown in the places where evil waits to swoop in to destroy. In the parable, crows eat the seeds up. How do we defend against crows? A scarecrow. What is a scarecrow in practical terms? For us, I believe active spiritual combat through rebuking. We obviously cannot go out and physically harm others who try to stop us, but we can rebuke them through faith, prayer, and through direct means. It might mean having to directly confront whatever is eating your fruits, but you cannot coexist with a predator.
Ministry in the Rocks: Sometimes where we decide to take our ministry will not be spiritually active. There are places where God is absent in the tongues of the inhabitants. It is our duty to make the Spirit’s presence known. We must remove the rocks and till the earth. We can remove the rocks by softening the hard hearts of those who resist. Once we have removed the hardness, we can begin to cultivate that spiritual growth that our ministries should offer.
Ministry in the Sun: Sometimes our ministries will initially start out fine, but face persecution when we thought we were safe. This is a phase that most, if not all ministries will go through. Inevitably, something will try to kill our ministry by putting it under fire. It is our duty to be the shade for our ministry. You know what Jonah did when he was overcome by the heat of the sun? He prayed, and God grew a leafy bush. God grew plants in uninhabitable land. To combat the sun, we need the Son.
Ministry in Thorns: Sometimes, before our ministries can even take root, something will to attempt to choke them out. How might we prevent this? I think it is through preparation. We must first prepare the way for our ministry. By removing the vines and undesirable plants from the plot first, we pave the way for future growth. However, anyone who farms know that weeds and thorns always come back. We must be prudent and continue to maintain what we have grown if we know we are growing our ministries in an area filled with thorns.
I hope that my take on the parable of the sower has been valuable. Initially, I had an entirely different idea for what this sermon would be about, but God lead me in a different direction. We must always assess what kind of ground we are sowing our ministries on. The land changes. Good ground might become sour. It is our duty to be on a continuous watch and be good and faithful servants of the land.
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