Are We Listening?

 

tin-can-telephoneI recently had a conversation with a good friend about the necessity of discipleship and the idea that good discipleship is foundational to growing ministry and developing leadership. I was thinking about that conversation as I read through Luke 8 and 9 in preparation for this post. 

 

Luke 8:4-8 4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

I’ve read the Parable of the Sower a million times and have always limited it to mean that the person (the seed) who hears the Word receives and believes, hears and gives up, or rejects the message. Either way I’ve always thought it to be a choice on the seed’s part, or a matter of hardness of heart. This time when I read it I realized that in all three scenarios the seed is the same seed. It never changes. There is no difference. What determines the outcome of the seed’s growth is the soil it lands on. 

 

I think the church is the soil. Is yours rocky, ridged, trampled, and dried up? Is yours thorny with hypocrisy and gossip? Or is your church soil filled with life giving nutrients that a new sapling needs to take root? I’ve attended all three. Good discipleship (soil) in good churches is what makes people (seeds) grow. 

 

The first part of Luke 8:14 reads: “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” I thought it was interesting that Jesus threw this in when he was teaching on sowing seeds and lights under baskets. My study bible says that this is a statement for the disciples to carefully listen to his teaching, ensuring that they understand its meaning because they are responsible for teaching it to others. Discipleship, right?

 

Listen carefully. Enrich the soil. Grow seeds.

 

What are your thoughts on Luke 8 and 9? Share your comments with us.

 

Special request: Our church is looking for new ways to engage in the discipleship process. If your church is using new media (Twitter, audio or video podcasts, blogs, live stream, YouTube, etc.) please share about it in the comments. I’m looking for new ideas, innovative uses, and outcomes. Help!


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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Are We Listening?

  1. Katy

    I to have experienced all three types of “soil” even one that started out out good and turned thorny. I am now happily at a church with excellent soil. The fact that they’re trying to reach out in new and innovative ways proves their level of discipleship.

  2. I’m commenting specifically on the special request:

    “Special request: Our church is looking for new ways to engage in the discipleship process. If your church is using new media (Twitter, audio or video podcasts, blogs, live stream, YouTube, etc.) please share about it in the comments. I’m looking for new ideas, innovative uses, and outcomes. Help!”

    At The Church at Chapel Hill (www.churchatchapelhill.com)we have 7 value statements. One of those reads, “creative ministry is engaging.” At first thought that wouldn’t be a very spiritual statement & doesn’t seem to carry the weight of “prayer & worship are vital for experiencing God” (another value statement). However, we are committed to engaging the current culture with the gospel in creative ways. We use all of the means listed above (social mediums, podcast, etc) as a way of sharing God’s unchanging truth. We are also convinced that we cannot simply wait for people to come to church. We are instead, looking for opportunity to take our church into the community, even if that community is an online network. Here’s a really brief break down of some of the things we are currently doing.

    Twitter: used to interact w/ congregants; meet new people; share church info pertaining to events; links sent to highlight areas of website; connect with other churches and pastors.

    Web: We put a lot of energy into our website. Visitors can view messages; see & register for upcoming events; read & watch testimonies & more. Updated at least weekly. A lot of traffic goes through our site.

    Vimeo: used to embed high quality video into our website.

    iTunes: users can subscribe to video or audio podcast feeds. Updated weekly.

    YouTube: distributes messages & promotional videos

    Facebook: we have a fan page but havent used it to its potential. Honestly, this cannot be managed effectively at this time so we may remove it. See below.

    Planning Center Online: not a social medium, but a tool to leverage technology for service planning. I can’t say enough about this. USE IT! http://www.planningcenteronline.com

    Fellowship One: https://www.fellowshipone.com our church uses this to manage its people database and much more. Infinitely powerful. Does require overcoming a learning curve and getting your teams on board.

    Please note: if one of these things isn’t working for us OR if we cannot manage it effectively, we wouldn’t do it. None of this is world changing. But they are a means of engaging & discipling & tracking.

    Additional questions? DM on Twitter @dmosley

    -DMosley
    Young Adult Pastor

  3. Being in a church with rich soil has been such a blessing for Michael and me; especially since we’ve experienced the other types as well. I’m glad you touched on this.

    Being in marriage ministry and sharing our journey with others has put is in the role of a disciple and enriching our own soil daily. It’s so sad to us though, when the message and the testimony of the sower is real and clear and the receiver (seed) never sprouts. Is that us or them?

  4. Great Post! Listening is key.

    I have heard this parable taught that “the kingdom of God is “atmospheric”. Meaning, we are to persevere in throwing the seed. Continue on and create the atmosphere where God’s presence and love can thrive – putting it out there, for all types of soil.

    How better to create an atmosphere for the seed to grow than to listen to people and hear their hurts and allow God to show up and revive their hearts and lives.

  5. For me the word is that foundation. The soil in which the church and all aspects of ministry are to grow. It is a process. One that requires discipline as you so put in your mention of discipleship.

    I love how you put things and encourage me to think. I am convicted to listen, to learn, to walk, to wait, to plant, to sow, to believe, to know… to grow!

    Bless you,
    Ginger

  6. Heather

    I like Luke 9 when Jesus is commissioning the Twelve and he says “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment.”
    Jesus was relational and intended for others to continue that. Thats also a the great part of social media, they extend the relationship.

  7. Ok, so I’m laughing that I just read this – I worked this a bit on the show tonight, and in the sermon during our worship experience tonight.

    Luke 8:9 , and also Mark’s Gospel tell us that the seed is the Word of God – the Gospel. The sower, spreads the gospel, and the types of soil represents the type of people that will hear the gospel.

    I think using the church as soil lends itself to some interesting points in this context! The church often mishandles the gospel message, and stifles and chokes it out.

    Certainly happened in Jesse’s case, and that makes me sad.

    Really appreciate you both, the blog and your support of the show!

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