True spiritual growth often is a messy process

Greenhouses are neat and clean. There are no bugs, birds or moles. Everything is tidy, well watered and gets just the right amount of sunlight. That’s what the average church is, a greenhouse, a safe place from the bugs, birds, and moles of the world.

People are like plants in a greenhouse, for them to grow, they will eventually have to be transplanted, from the greenhouse to the garden and from the church to the marketplace, the school, and the community.

The problem arises when we open the greenhouse (church) to the outside world, in comes the stinkbugs, dirty birds, and burrowing moles. Herein is a hidden reason, many churches do not grow; Growth is messy.

Jesus said, “The fields are white for the harvest.” He did not say, the greenhouse (church) is white for harvest, He said, “The Fields.” If we wish to reap the harvest, we’ve got to get into the fields; we’ve got to get dirty. Let us heed the words of Jesus, “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (John 4:34-38)

Instead of the church being solely a greenhouse, let’s make it a storehouse as well, by bringing in the sheaves from the garden, even with their bugs, birds, and moles.

Growing out of the Greenhouse into the Garden

Invite people into the garden. Watering the garden once doesn’t cause growth, especially in a drought; and we are definitely in a spiritual drought. The garden will quickly die without the watering of the Word. I am not just speaking of teaching the Bible; I am saying with the Apostle Paul as he said to Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:5). Be relentless in preaching “Reaching.” Somewhere in every message, there ought to be a reference to reaching people with the gospel of Christ. Persistently encourage people to invite people to church.

We will reap what we sow. If we sow cucumber seeds, we’ll reap cucumbers. If we sow love, we’ll reap love. If we sow kindness, we’ll reap the fruit of kindness. If we welcome people, they will feel welcome. If we invite them, they will come.

Plant a variety. A garden of nothing but rutabaga is boring. My granddaughter is a vegan (she’s young, what can I say?). She says to me, “Grandfather, you need color in your salad, greens, and reds, yellows, and purples, not just Lettuce.” Like a variety of vegetables makes for a good salad, a verity of people makes for a good church. Remember the children’s Sunday school song, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…”

Teach gardening. Preach and teach every facet of evangelism, from lifestyle evangelism to flat-out soul winning. Seek out gifted evangelist in the church. Give people an opportunity to come to Christ in every service. Anyone can be taught to turn over a handful of soil. Anyone can learn to plant a seed. Anyone can water with a sprinkle of kindness. Anyone can invite someone. Growth like gardening is messy; so, let’s get our hands dirty.

(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)