Bread to Eat and Seeds to Plant
I love feed stores on Saturday morning. The smells. The activity. The plants. The SEEDS! Feed stores offer potential in the form of dirt, plants, and seeds. They also offer labor, because leaving with a bag from the Feed Store, probably means you have work to do when you get home.
I also love restaurants on Friday night. Especially with my wife. Restaurants offer food, experience, memories, but when you’re done, you’re pretty much done. Restaurants, even the cheapest, are also much more expensive than seeds and plants. And labor after the experience is purely optional – “I think I’ll look up that recipe and try it at home.”
Bread to Eat AND Seeds to Plant
So which one of these describe your church? Do you offer the consumer experience of bread to eat, experience, memories, until next time? or Do you offer the potential of seeds to sow into the community and encouragement to labor in the hood and home?
Healthy churches will offer both, but will be intentional about equipping people to plant seeds of the gospel and labor for the kingdom when they leave.
American Christianity has often focused on the bread to eat consumer experience and it shows. As Christians, we often talk about our churches like a favorite restaurant – “I like the music – preaching – programs.” The programs are laid out much like a menu of options for your enjoyment. And we’ve got it covered. Labor outside of Sunday’s is purely optional. Falling out of favor as a church or pastor, often means being met with the often heard assertion, “I’m just not getting fed.”
Food to eat and grow as a believer is something we need. Jesus did describe himself the “Bread of Life.” Pastors are Shepherds, and a shepherd feeds his sheep. But Jesus went beyond just offering bread. He sent people out with the seed of the word of God. He refused to set up a permanent feeding station on the mountain side for thousands, which would have swelled his numbers. And the book of Hebrews uses the analogy that people should, like babies, grow from milk, to meat, from being fed, to feeding themselves.
So, how do we balance the ministries of Bread to Eat and Seeds to Plant?
- Communicate that the labor for the Christ follower starts at the door of the church. Disciple making is about planting the seeds we pick up on Sunday in the home and hood. Food is for energy, not just enjoyment. How do you communicate about the role of church in the life of the believer?
- Equip people to multiply and share the gospel. How much of the calendar and menu of programs at your church offer real equipping and practice for the mission of God in the community? We can see in Jesus’ ministry modeling, assisting, watching, and leaving them to do the ministry. How are you training believers to be self-feeders and missionaries in their communities?
- Offer, how to’s and to do’s, with every sermon. Knowledge alone does not lead to maturity. Jesus was biased toward obedience and action and we should be to. Let’s think hard about practical application for everyday believers in every lesson and sermon.
What ideas does the analogy of Bread to Eat and Seeds to Plant bring to your mind?