Scripture Focus: Matthew 13:3-9
Let’s get one thing straight; we are blessed to live in the Heartland. Driving around Ohio, it won’t take long until you’re between two fields of sweet corn. You might call it a boring drive, but we are a blessed people. Call me a sweet corn snob but most of America has no clue what real sweet corn tastes like. If you’re not eating sweet corn for dinner that was on the stalk that morning, then you haven’t lived. Whether you enjoy your sweet corn on the cob, creamed, baked into corn bread, on your Chipotle burrito, or even in your scoop of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (yes, they exclusively use Ohio Sweet Corn), understand that the beautifully boring fields of sweet corn didn’t appear overnight without intention. I’m no farmer so I won’t pretend to know the process, but I am a beneficiary that understands that there is a process.
Successful farmers who grow sweet corn for you and I understand that the process starts early. For novices, the Farmer’s Almanac guide for planting corn clearly states that “planting corn seeds indoors is not recommended.” Awesome, thanks for the tip! There’s more but we really don’t have time. If we strip away the complexities and focus on the basics then we can say that farmers do their very best to prepare the soil, plant the sweet corn seeds, and harvest what has grown. It sounds simple but there is a lot of hard work over a long period of time. Only then can we enjoy the fruits of the farmer’s labor. Next time you see a sweet corn farmer, give them a high five and tell them that Garrett says, “Thank you.”
Ultimately, a farmer does not know if their crop will be a success or failure. They can only use the tools they have, plant what they have and, quite frankly, hope that it turns out. It requires farmers to invest their time and resources for the unknown. Once the seed leaves their hand, farmers lose control. That’s a scary thought. But somehow, they are patient and understand that if they do everything that they can control, they will experience growth through their trust in the process.
It is intimidating when we read the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 when he says, “Go make disciples of all nations,” or in Acts 1:8 that say, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We instantly feel the weight of an impossible responsibility to go win the entire world for Jesus Christ. What’s worse is when we finally get the courage to invite a friend to church and they either say “No” or come once and then never come again. How am I supposed to win an entire world when I can’t even get my best friend plugged into church? Jesus told us in Matthew 9:37 that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” I’m willing to be a laborer but I have failed to even reach the one person who should be the easiest.
I have good news and hopefully some encouragement. Never once in scripture are we given the responsibility to save souls. In fact, you don’t even have what it takes to save souls. God has never called us to create the harvest. He has called us to do our best to prepare for and then bring in the harvest. We often confuse ‘preparing for the harvest’ with ‘creating the harvest.’ Check out the story of the sower of the seed in Matthew 13:3-9. There’s no indication of this farmer doing an analysis on the condition of the soil and determining what areas had the best chance of producing grain. He simply went and he sowed indiscriminately. This guy is a farmer, so we can assume that he did his best to break up and prepare the soil he was responsible for. But when the opportunity came, he reached into his shoulder bag, grabbed what he had, and planted seed. There comes a point in time when we need to reach for what has been given to us and plant it into someone’s life. That seed should include truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We need to work hard to plant something into someone’s life. This doesn’t happen by forcing them into an altar; it happens when you become their friend. Bringing in the harvest – and keeping it – starts with building relationships.
Need an example? Last school year a group of Net students became passionate about spinning up a P7 Bible Study Club in their schools. They taught the Bible, discussed God, and told stories of how their life had been changed. But more importantly, they just hanged out, talked, laughed, ate pizza, and became friends. This led to crying, being honest, talking about struggles, and the need for freedom – get this – all before they ever step foot into a church service. Love built friendships, friendships created trust, trust led to life-change. The harvest was ready and it got really easy because the Net had prepared the soil and planted seed indiscriminately and then God did the rest. I won’t fake it and say that it happened overnight nor that we had a 100% success rate. Inevitably, some soil isn’t ready but we must sow the seed through friendship regardless. If we do, there will be a harvest. As a result of these friendships, it gave the Net students the right to invite their new friends to services and events including RUSH 2017. They were ready. Last year at RUSH, three unchurched students were filled with the Holy Ghost. It kept happening. God continued to bring the growth. To date, 12 have received the Holy Ghost, 11 baptized in Jesus name, 3 received a physical miracle, and many attend AC every week. Our P7 Clubs are now reaching 75+ unchurched students every week across five schools. We haven’t created the growth, God has. All we are doing is using the tools God has given us to prepare for the harvest; love, kindness, friendship, and truth from the Word of God.
The precious sweet corn farmer doesn’t sit in his house and quietly hope that he can benefit from a good harvest. He prepares with intention by using what he’s been giving and trusts that growth will happen. Quietly praying and hoping that God sends an influx of souls into your local church isn’t going to get the job done. We must be intentional to prepare for the harvest through creating friendships, giving us the right to have God-conversations with others, and trust that God will bring growth… because He will. Go make friends and see what God will do.
Speaker Bio: Garrett Robertson
Tell us about yourself: Garrett Robertson lives in Barberton, OH with his incredible wife Allison and their three beautiful kids – Titus, Finley, and Eli. They are blessed to serve Apostolic Church with student ministry as their heartbeat.
What do you love (music, food, etc)? Garrett is a foodie with barbecue and Ohio sweet corn (obviously) at the top of his list. You can often smell a rack of spare ribs being barbecued throughout their neighborhood as the Big Green Egg billows barbecue-infused smoke from their backyard.
Where do you live? Barberton, OH.
Where can students follow you on social media? You can find him on FB, TW and IG at @gprob.