“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:3-8)
The quote above is Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, which is found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). This is an interesting parable that illustrates how people receive the “seed”--that is, the gospel--and I think we can also apply it to congregational ministries.
I love the Parable of the Sower because it really sums up my philosophy of ministry: that God calls me as a pastor and us together as a congregation to throw gospel seeds anywhere and everywhere, imitating God’s own scattering of gospel seeds. With congregational participation now seeming to be just another option on the buffet of ways in which folks might spend their time, we can no longer be content to wait for people to come to us. Instead, the Holy Spirit is sending us out to throw gospel seeds everywhere--even on people we might presuppose are the path, the rocky ground, or the thorns.
With this in mind, I am pleased to report a gospel seed that has recently fallen on good soil! That seed is Rejoicing Spirits, as it has so far introduced about 25 new people to Trinity’s heartfelt Welcome, gospel Nurture, and hearts that Serve our Lord Jesus. We are truly meeting a need in our community and wider region, and it would not surprise me in the least if Rejoicing Spirits grew to regularly see 100 or more people at the services within a couple of years because of the many connections we still have to make. These connections could also extend to our Sunday morning worship service as we build relationships with people.
This one gospel seed is developing roots and seems poised to yield thirty and sixty and a hundredfold, and this ministry’s surprising early success means that Trinity is now entering growth mode. Like many ELCA pastors my age, I have little experience working with growing congregations; however, there is one thing I do know for sure: growing congregations require hands--your hands--to join in God’s expanding work. As our Fall Mission Fuel-Up campaign gets going this month, I urge you to prayerfully consider how you might offer your hands for God’s work among us in the coming year. With your help, we can make the most of this opportunity to grow our congregation’s reach and impact in our community, and I invite you to not just come along for the ride but to take a shift in the driver’s seat as well!
Pastor Micah Garnett has been our Pastor since July 2016. He grew up in York, PA and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. He enjoys worship, working with social services in Fulton County, writing hymns, and cycling.