Green thumbs down!
by Terry Camsey, Major –
If there is one thing that I am absolutely no good at, it is gardening. Green thumb? I don’t think so! I have had such bad luck over the years that I am beginning to seriously wonder whether—when I try to sow—I am putting the seeds in upside down! (Perhaps whoever lives directly under me on the planet—in New Zealand or Australia—could drop me a line to tell me if they have seen a lush collection of flowers in their garden that they don’t recall having planted. It would at least prove my theory!)
Now my wife…well, she’s something else so far as gardens are concerned. She knows the name of every type of rose in our yard. But my lack of skill, and her limited time (coupled with the fact that we live in a semi-desert climate) have resulted in my having “planted,” principally, rocks in both our front and rear yards. I can water them. No, they don’t actually grow, but it does get the dust off them.
You’ll not be surprised then, when I tell you that my attention was caught by a recent ad on the television, offering for sale a “Roll and Grow” product. It is a thin carpet of some material that is nourishing to plants and contains—they say—thousands of seeds representing a variety of colorful flowers.
Apparently you just cut the “carpet” up in strips for lawn edging, or to fit the shape of a pot or whatever…water it…and wait for the results, which, according to the photographs, are magnificent.
Now, I am always looking for an allegorical spiritual application when I see new products on the market. I ask myself whether there is anything we can learn that will help in our evangelism efforts. Efforts which, to be honest, do not yield fantastic results for most churches of all denominations in this country…or other Western countries for that matter. In fact, a study by Thomas S. Rainer (Dean of Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) suggests that, “on average, in America, it takes 85 church members a year to reach one person for Christ.” What does that suggest for churches averaging even less in their congregation?
It’s a pretty poor result, whichever way you look at it, and suggests that whatever is being done in evangelism is not working…or, is not working well, or…we are not working!
But, back to the “Roll and Grow.” It responds to a problem that planting poor seed, singly, simply does not solve. It, in fact, sows thousands of seeds of high quality—none of which are weeds. The seeds are not one single variety, but a mix of many. “Roll and Grow” can be tailored to local needs…shaped appropriately according to circumstance. The seeds are planted in rich, receptive material where they readily take root.
I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 9:6 that (in the CEV) says: “A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest.” The quantity of seeds sown has a significant effect on the harvest. Additionally, if that seed is sown in receptive “soil,” then the results are even more improved. Jesus knew this when, in sending his disciples out, he told them not to waste time on those who were not yet ready to receive the seed of the gospel. People are more receptive at some times than others…often when the regular pattern of their life has been turned upside down by some unexpected and negative event (that, frequently, includes many who come to us for social help). It benefits the sower to be sensitive to such periods of receptivity and to respond appropriately.
The evangelistic approach may need to be tailored to different people, or people groups, for the best responses to be expected. And, finally, the seed we sow must be pure and unadulterated. The gospel…no more, no less.
And to that, I give a thumbs up!