Yesterday I had a Bible Study with several of my youth looking at the parable of the sower in the gospel of Matthew. If you are unfamiliar it’s the story where some seed fell on shallow ground, some on the path, some was choked by thorns, and the rest was sown (planted) in good soil. That seed planted in the good soil yielded either one-hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.
We’ve also been studying “Almost Christian” by Kenda Creasy Dean, and it has had me doing a great bit of thinking about the church, and in particular my teaching in the church I am in. One of the conclusions that the National Study of Youth and Religion makes (and this is what Dean is writing about) is that many churches are not practicing consequential faith, but instead a watered down Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. We can discuss MTD at a later time, but needless to say it does not line up with truly following Jesus Christ.
What I see when I look at the ministry of Jesus is a preponderance of agricultural references, and therefore a reason to look at our fruitfulness in the terms of reaping and sowing. While Dean works a great deal with the conclusions of the NYSR, and there is major cause for distress about the direction of our mainstream churches, I see hope in the parable of the sower.
When we look at the parable the seed that fell on good soil produced many times more than what was sown, and I think we have much good soil in our churches. The thing we have a problem with is not actually drawing people in, but in forming them into people that lead lives of consequential faith. Now there is no magic bullet to change our church cultures, but there is a glimmer of hope.
If the church has indeed formed people into the mold that the church has created. If we truly hold onto the idea that people can be transformed by the love of Christ, then we must hope for a tide change. And God proved long ago that he can change the tides, so the idea of we’ve always done it that way is one that those in leadership have to fight tooth and nail against.
I find myself hopeful that the youth I teach and are hoping to form will eventually help change the tide of the church. How do I make sure to be the lead portion of the wave and not hanging in the back making sure that I don’t get trampled. I hope that when our tide changes that we will all be moving towards that greater thing that God is longing to do with and through us.