Looking Back

Prepare|Sow|Grow and ‘Into Your Field’

Bible passages: Joshua 4:1-9; Luke 8:1-15

Recap

  • Thinking back to Craig’s message, what were the main themes that stood out to you? What questions did it raise? And what was God saying to you at this time?

Exploring the Issue

Pastor Craig writes: I’ve discovered that I’m more pragmatic than most.

Last year I travelled down to Melbourne for a meeting with other doctoral students for three days of discussing our research topics and engaging in mutual learning.

Most of my fellow-students were researching such areas as: why certain sections of the Bible were left out of an old lectionary; using artificial intelligence to translate ancient Arabic gospels (it was like Indiana Jones meets Bill Gates); and the historic use of ‘hagiographies’ (yeah, I had to look up that word too!).

By way of comparison, my research topic is ‘the development of discipleship tools that actually help new believers in Jesus grow’. What interests me is figuring out how to put truth into practice. I not only get excited about what is ‘true’, I want to know how to apply the truth.

So I look at our Vision of being a group of believers in Jesus who are Desperate for God, Passionate for People, and my default question is ‘How?’

I read passages like Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Or, Isaiah 61:3b-4:

“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

I read that … I want a life like that … but I want to know ‘how’?

Drawing from scriptures like those above, and Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Sower’ (which we considered a couple of weeks ago), some years ago we began to learn and engage with a simple strategy to see our Vision become reality.

Prepare|Sow|Grow became part of our language … but more than that, increasingly part of our culture.

So, I figured it’d be timely to revisit Prepare|Sow|Grow again at the outset of 2020 in the hope that we might continue to have a desire to Grow in Jesus and as a consequence be ready to Prepare and Sow.

Our Strategy is to Flourish

If our Vision is to see you grow as a flourishing disciple of Jesus who is ‘Desperate for God, Passionate for People’, we will all need a clear picture of how that’s going to happen.

On the basis of Luke 8 and other passages, our strategy to see this happen can be summarised by the following diagram.

Prepare

You have a key role to play in the preparing of people’s hearts (the soil) to receive the Word.
At NVBC we see everyone in our church family ‘preparing soil’ through prayer and building relationships with those who don’t yet know Jesus.’

Our community and world cannot afford for us to segregate ourselves away in a ‘Christian club’. The seed must have proximity to the soil!

Sow

You are commissioned by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to sow the Word of God into people’s lives through word, deed and sign.

Just as seeds are the product of healthy/fruitful trees, so too the sowing of the Word of God can only come from the fruit in our own healthy/fruitful lives.

Grow

God’s design is for you to grow and bear fruit. Growth and fruitfulness develop most in the environment of a deepening relationship with God and with other believers.

At various stages of growth, plants require different stimuli to continue to thrive. At NVBC we seek to encourage growth throughout each stage, recognising the different requirements people will have to continue to facilitate growth.

1/3 of those attending our church have joined us in the past three years, and 13% have joined us in the past 12 months. If you’re part of the 2/3s who were part of NVBC more than 5 years ago, you’d know that historically we have spent significant time exploring Prepare|Sow|Grow.

However, if you’re part of the 1/3, this may be relatively new information. Perhaps you’ve seen Prepare|Sow|Grow on the wallpaper at the front of our main auditorium, or heard it referenced in sermons.

  • What new or residual questions does this strategy raise for you? Which part of the strategy excites you the most? Why? Which part of the strategy most daunts you? Why?

Three Questions

Last Sunday, Pastor Craig posed three questions from the verses in Isaiah and Jeremiah quoted above:

1) Who Do You Trust?
Jeremiah 17:7 commences with the words “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him”. As we saw on Sunday, the person blessed is one who ‘trusts’ (present tense), not simple ‘trusted’ past tense.
Craig identified that whilst for some of us the on-going of trusting God is not a problem, for others there may well have been experiences in your life that cause you to step back from trusting God. Sure, at some point in the past you ‘trusted’ God, but right now you’d be struggling to trust God.

  • As you feel able, share with the group why trusting God right now may be hard? What do you sense God saying to you in the midst of your apathy or distrust? If your desire is to be like the tree in Jeremiah 17, what’s your next step in re-engaging with trusting God?

2) Where Are You Planted?
Isaiah 61 speaks of “a planting of the Lord”. In Bible times, Tabor Oaks existed in huge quantities (a plantation) in northern Israel, so this was a familiar image for those listening to Isaiah.
Like the Tabor Oaks, you were not meant to grow alone – you were designed to grow as part of a plantation. We cultivate good soil, grow healthy and produce fruit BEST when we’re doing this thing together

  • On Sunday, Craig spoke about committing to participating in Sunday services and being part of a Connect Group as key applications of this point. How is your ‘planted-ness’ at Narara reflected? Do you sense God speaking to you about this? If so, what do you want to do about that?

3) What’s The Alignment Of Your Heart?
Isaiah 61 speaks of “a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour”. Whilst there are certainly benefits from being a person who is ‘good soil’, the ultimate goal is that you/we would display the splendour of God. We display the splendour of the Lord when we live out the Kingdom dream that Isaiah declares and that Jesus says is now fulfilled in and through Him. We want people to see what it looks like when people experience life, life to the full – when God is the first resource, not the last resort.

  • In what ways to you/we display the splendour of God? How might his splendour be increasingly be displayed in your life, at in NVBC collectively? What’s God saying to you about this? What do you want to do about that?

Prayer

Spend time as a group praying for each other as you each go into your field, that God will work through you to bring people into His Kingdom.