07 April, 2006

God Smacks Me Upside the Head This Morning

I just got around to reading Rick Warren’s “Ministry Tool Box” for this week, and I found an article that just smacked me right between the eyes. What is funny is I have talked about some of these very things he mentions, but somehow hearing the words come from someone else… well, it was like the Holy Spirit just turned up the volume and it really sank into me.

The article is titled: “How To Recognize Spiritual Receptivity In Your Community.” In it, Warren starts out by saying: Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt. To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there.”

He uses the parable Jesus told of the Sower and the Soil to show how some people are open to receiving the Gospel message and others are not.
He stresses that to maximize the effectiveness of our ministry we must focus our efforts on the good soil.
He states, No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop.”
But isn’t that what we usually do in the church?
We spend our time, week after week, month after month, year after year trying to coax the same people
back into the church that they keep drifting away from. We think we are being good pastors and shepherds… but in reality, we are not. Rather than bringing in a harvest, we are consumed with recycling the same tares over and over.

A statement Warren made in this article that gripped the spirit within me was this: “It usually takes about five times more energy to reactivate a disgruntled or carnal member than it does to win a receptive unbeliever.”

He goes on to say:

“I believe God has called pastors to catch fish and feed sheep – not corral goats! The truth is that some of your inactive members probably need to join somewhere else for a number of reasons. Growing churches focus on reaching receptive people. Non-growing churches focus on re-enlisting inactive people.”

I have been sitting here thinking about the church where I pastor, and I have to confess, most of our efforts (that means me first and foremost) have been on the “wrong soil.”
I have wasted countless hours (months!) trying to corral goats.
Hours are spent each week trying to chase down those that have missed that week, the week before and who show up once a month. (Read the previous article on this blog)

I believe the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me about this for the past few months, and the conversation yesterday which led to my last blog post and this article I read this morning by Pastor Warren have served as the catalyst I needed to get out of the field full of the wrong soil and to start sowing the seed into soil which is receptive to the seed and to reap that harvest.

I will close this with one more quote from Warren’s article: “The message of Christ is too important to waste time, money, and energy on non-productive methods and soil.”


Libby said...

The "goats" already KNOW what to do! They just refuse to DO it! Once someone has heard the TRUTH, they are responsible for it! I have seen people who have heard and keep coming back for greater understanding. They don't have it all down yet but they WANT to! I ENJOY going the extra mile with these folks. I feel like I am fertilizing and watering GOOD soil.

Then I have spoken with the ones who skip church at the drop of a hat and then want counseling because their family is falling apart! I'm sorry, but I DO get impatient with people who won't accept God's Word, won't study the Bible, won't go to church and have every excuse for their actions but want to monopolize the pastor's and elders' time!

Discipling someone who DESIRES discipling is time consuming and sometimes exhausting in itself, but it is more like a good day of work. You come home exhausted, but you feel something has been accomplished and you sleep like a baby.

When you just have a day of going in circles and getting nowhere you don't rest well!

Let me have the sheep! Or at least those who want to be! The goats can fend for themselves and will stand before God to explain why they rejected His Word!

(Do you want me to tell you how I REALLY feel, now?:)

I do have to add that I have had more pleasure discipling at this church than anywhere else we've pastored. We do have many who WANT to learn and are trying. It is SO AWESOME when I see them read God's Word and study what has been explained to them then see the change! Any amount of time needed is worth that!

Darrell said...

I have to agree with my wife, especially on the last paragraph. We have more people in this church with a desire to grow and go afer God than we have ever had before, and that is why this church is going to "take off" and grow. For the past 2 years, we have been laying a foundation and preparing the "reapers" and it is now harvest time.

The 6 Karns' said...

Our beloved Sister Becky Trammel always asks - are you Good Dirt? I always took that to mean - are you willing to be tilled (ouch), fertilized (ugh), let seed be sewn in you, let it grow - then FEED others? Then let it happen all over again in other areas of your life? I want to be GOOD DIRT! I want to be used However HE wants to use me!

Henry Haney said...

WOW- this is amazing and I believe a confirmation from the LORD. I've been teaching a series of messages on Wednesday nights about soulwinning/evangelism. I taught about the parable of the soils this past week and I emphasized VERY strongly to our congregation not to waste too much effort on non-productive soil. I can't tell you how encouraging it was to read your blog this a.m. If I wasn't at work right now, I'd give you a call on the phone- I need to talk to you!!

God bless-Henry

Amy said...

AMEN Pastor & Libby!!!!!