How Does Your Garden Grow?
by Melanie Wai
In the spring we like to garden. So, in our backyard we have some planters, a raised bed, and several buckets and pots we use to grow herbs and vegetables. This year we are planning on growing tomatoes, a bed of onions, some bell peppers, banana peppers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and we also have a couple of blueberry bushes. Planting and gardening takes planning. You have to know what each plant needs in order to thrive and then prepare accordingly. Blueberry bushes take time to mature. We didn’t get many blueberries the first year. The second year we got just a handful or so. Then last year, we got enough to fill a gallon bag or two over the course of the season. I can’t wait to see what we get this time! Blueberry pie, here I come!
This year we are going to try something new…asparagus. Because this was something we’ve never done before, my husband did a lot of research. Asparagus grows best in raised beds and usually takes a couple of years to have a really abundant crop. Just like the blueberries. One thing that asparagus does not tolerate well is weeds. So we are going to have to stay on top of the weeds and grass as we grow it. But hopefully within a couple of years, we’ll have a steady stream of nice fresh asparagus to supplement our meals. So, if any of you love vegetables, just let me know and y’all can come on over! We just might even have some homemade blueberry pie and vanilla Bluebell to polish it all off! Because you can never have too many fresh veggies…or blueberry pie!
Speaking of planting. What do you think about when you hear the words church planting? Do you think of the wilds of Africa? The jungles of the Amazon? Going underground in communist China? A remote village on an Indian reservation? All of the people in those places need to be reached to be sure.
But so does your neighbor…your co-worker…your family member.
What about church planting right here in the United States? You may think, why does America need another church when there seems to be one on every corner?
Think about this…
- 65% of the population in the United States has no real church connection.
- There are 156 million unchurched people in the U.S.; if America’s unchurched people were to form a nation, it would be the 8th most populous country in the world.
- In the last decade there has been a 19.4% decline in church attendance!
- Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts.
- Doubling the number of existing churches in the U.S. would still not be enough to reach all of these people; America would need 200,000 new churches of 1000 people each to fulfill the current need.
- 85% of all churches in America are either plateaued or are declining.
So even though there might be “a church on every corner”, there aren’t very many people in them. They have just stopped going and growing. So, how do we reach the unchurched right here in the USA? The more we plant churches the more we’ll be able to reach this people group.
And we start by cultivating relationships. We do life with them and love them in such a way that they can’t help but see the Jesus in us. So we cannot become inward focused. We must become outward focused…others focused…because people are dying without Christ every single day!
Think about the garden. Spring is now. Now is the time for planting. The earth must be prepared, seeds planted, watered. Weeds need to be pulled, critters kept at bay. As the plants grow, they need to be cultivated, nurtured, fertilized. Then when the plants are mature, the time comes for them to be harvested. Mature plants have seeds of their own that can be planted for starting new, fresh gardens.
Do you see the analogy? Now is the time for cultivating relationships. Plant seeds of friendship, trust, loyalty, integrity, love. Grow them. Nurture them. Fertilize them. Keep evil at bay. Keep apathy at bay. Keep laziness at bay. We all must be willing to let God use our gifts and talents for His kingdom…for growing it. Think garden, not grocery store.
Because we are the church. And it’s up to us to create the right environment that proclaims that Jesus is Lord!
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