Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Magic of the Seed

In one of his Verge 2010 presentations, Neil Cole told the story of being with his daughter as they drove past a new mall. Large tractors were digging holes for trees. The next day they drove by again and full grown palm trees had been placed into the holes. Neil’s daughter exclaimed, “Wow, those trees grow fast!” He then commented, I didn’t tell her they had placed fully grown trees into the holes, because I wanted her to believe in the magic of the seed.

Cole then went on to discuss the powerful seed of the Gospel. While known as a church planter, Cole said, “Today I tell people to plant Jesus, not churches.” We can give messages about the word without giving the Word Himself. Church is the outgrowth of the message. Every piece of fruit contains the seed for the next generation. When we plant the Word, it will bear fruit. And the fruit contains the magic of reproduction.

Cole identified three components of farming: sowing, growing, harvesting. He said, the farmer is most busy at the sowing and harvesting seasons. Yet, it seems that we tend to work most at making churches ‘grow’. That is the only thing the farmer did not work for. Growth is the byproduct of sowing and harvesting.

As he talked about reproductive disciple-making, Cole confessed that he once focused on various curricula for use in disciple-making. When one curriculum became boring, they would change to another. Ultimately he even sought to write his own curriculum. Sometimes he would try having growing disciples read and discuss good spiritual books to maintain their interest and keep them on a growth track. Finally, Cole realized that the solution to changed lives was not found in curriculum, or in good books. Verge participants laughed as Cole reenacted His dialogue with the Father, “God what book could we read that might really change their lives? God responded, Well, I do have a best seller.”

From that dialogue, Cole began to develop the Life Transformation Group (LTG) process that is now widely used among believers. In LTG’s two or three believers covenant to read 25-30 chapters of Scripture each week. Then they meet to share what God said to them through the Word. They also pray for their personal witness to unbelieving friends and utilize a list of accountability questions for mutual encouragement in faithfulness.

The process focuses on getting the seed into fallow ground. We can’t make the seed grow. As George Patterson is fond of saying “You can’t make anything grow anymore than tugging on an ear of corn will make it grow.” But we can act upon our confidence that the magic of the movement is found in the seed.