by John Armstrong
It is already June, the Church Retreat is over, kids are graduating, schools are letting out, and astronomically speaking, Summer will be here in a couple of weeks. It is an exciting time of year, everything seems to be growing. My garden is growing, the weeds are coming up at a furious pace and thankfully we’ve had lots of rain, so those same weeds are fairly easy to pull. There is something fascinating to me about growing things. I’m amazed at how fast my grass grows and how fast the weeds around my backyard go from cut back to veritable jungle. My wife goes out from time to time on her rounds spraying the weeds in the ongoing war that we wage with them. Someday I will reclaim the weed patch in the back and we’ll expand our garden to put that under cultivation. In a little way, it is fulfilling the creation mandate to bring the earth into submission, to tame the undisciplined wilderness into a cultivated and fruitful garden. Now, why am I talking about these things? Well, I want you to take the metaphor of cultivating a garden and particularly the idea of organic growth and I want you to then think in terms of the church. Bear with me here. If you have ever spoken to me about church programs/ministries at any length, you’ve probably heard me speak about, what I like to call “organic” growth. I use the term “organic” in juxtaposition with programs, by that I mean, we in the church can come up with programs and put them in place and advertise and do all kinds of things to try and get people to participate. This is not illegitimate, we do this sometimes and it is very good. For example, we hope the 40 th Anniversary celebration that we are having this year will go very well. That will fall into this kind of programmatic category. Now, when we are talking about ministry that leads to greater discipleship and service, I think it is very difficult to start and maintain that as a program. Yes, I can get a group together and make something happen, I can do that in some sense because I’m the pastor and some people will participate because this is something that I want to have happen. The problem with this is, people often will participate in order to support the pastor, that is hard to sustain because they are not participating because they see the need for this ministry and want to be a part. When someone sees a ministry need in the church and finds they have a heart desire to meet that need (eg. coming to the pastor and volunteering to lead a group to take care of the need), I call that organic. It is not a program that the pastor thought up and is trying to put into place. It is something the Holy Spirit has laid on someone’s heart and is subsequently equipping them to do that ministry. That is the kind of ministry growth we want to see at Faith Church. I call that organic growth, I didn’t generate it, God generated it, and that kind of growth will be both fruitful and edifying. That is the environment where people thrive in using their spiritual gifts. I would encourage you to join me in praying for more “organic” growth in our church. Let’s go work where God is working. Waiting around for the church to start up a ministry that will meet your needs and desires is a consumer mindset. We are not called to be consumers, we are called to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, who faithfully take up our crosses day to day and follow in His footsteps. Drop the consumerism and embrace the servanthood of belonging to Christ. That is where abundant life waits for you.