FEW WOULD QUESTION that our churches (and we as individual believers) are not as effective as we would like to be in seeing lost people find transformed lives in Christ. When we read the Book of Acts, we marvel at how the first disciples were able to make such an impact when they had much less than we do in the way of resources. However, when we look at Jesus’ parable of the seed and the sower, we see that only four things are needed for a fruitful harvest.
GOOD SEED: This factor seems easy. Jesus says the seed is the Word of God (Mark 4:14). But Neil Cole in Organic Church (p.66) points out that many times we give people a “seed substitute”—tracts, quarterlies, sermons, books, fill-in-the-blank study guides. We give them messages about the Word rather than the pure Word itself. The Word is “quick” (alive) and “powerful.” We need to get back into the Book and once again become a “people of the book.”
GOOD SOIL: Jesus’ parable (Mark 4:1-20) is sometimes called The Parable of the Soils because the response to the Word seems to depend on the type of soil. Only the good soil produces fruit. What is good soil? According to Cole (p. 72), the Bible says the following kinds of people are more likely to respond to the Gospel: bad (immoral) people (Lk. 5:32); poor people (James 2:5); young people (Matt. 18:3); those searching for God, perhaps in the occult and in other religions (Matt. 7:7); uneducated and powerless people (1 Cor. 1:27); and the insignificant, the discriminated against, and the nobodies (1 Cor. 1:28-29). On the other hand, the Bible classifies the following people as bad soil for the Gospel: intellectuals, people of influence, and those of high social status (1 Cor. 1:26); good “moral” people (Lk. 5:31-32); and the wealthy (Lk 18:24-25). With which type of people are we investing our time and effort?
GOOD SUN: I am using “sun” to mean “climate” (I needed a word that started with the letter s). Even good seed in good soil will struggle in bad climate. For example, conflict is bad climate (Ps. 133; John 17:20-23). Look at the three things in the parable that made the seed among thorns unfruitful. Good climate focuses on Jesus.
GOOD SOWERS: Years ago it dawned on me that one of the reasons for meager harvests is the lack of planting. We reap what we sow. But if we don’t sow, we won’t reap. One key to church planting movements is abundant gospel sowing. The more people spreading the Word, the more seed planted, the more likely it is that we will have an abundant harvest of lives transformed.