This summer my family made our most earnest attempt yet at growing a vegetable garden in our backyard. Our kids helped plant seeds, and I even started a compost pile from our kitchen scraps. We had an ambitious vision of beautiful tomatoes, squash, peppers, berries and melons growing in abundance to feed our family. While this did happen, we also struggled to overcome stubborn weeds, bugs and fungus that decimated our hard work. Thankfully, we will have another year to learn from our mistakes and plan to improve upon our efforts.
As a church, we have been focusing on our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. We have envisioned this work as growing a garden. During several Sundays of worship last Fall we took our first look as a congregation at our vision: a garden where disciples of Jesus are grown by planting, tending and harvesting. This fall, we will take another look at our “garden” vision from three different perspectives, or dimensions: UP, IN & OUT.
UP: Transformational Worship. Life with God begins with acknowledging, honoring and glorifying God as our creator. God provides the sunshine, the rain, and even the dirt to grow food and sustain all life. As Jesus often looked up to give thanks when he broke bread with his disciples, we look up to God, recognizing our dependence upon him for our daily bread (John 6:51).
IN: Radical Hospitality. It takes hard work to grow a garden and reap a harvest: tilling, fertilizing, planting, watering, pulling up weeds, etc. So, too, is the work of growing the church and God’s kingdom, which is rooted in obeying God’s command to love (Mark 12:28-31).
OUT: Extravagant Service. Gardens aren’t just beautiful to look at–they also feed us. We recognize that God has called us to feed people with his life-Giving Word: the good news of Jesus. We strive to give as extravagantly as God did when he sent his only Son, Jesus, so that everyone might have life (John 3:16).
Just as my family’s garden will never be perfect, we will never perfectly fulfill our vision until Jesus comes to fulfill his kingdom. But we must continue seeking his kingdom, joining him in his work of restoring and renewing creation (see Rev. 22:1-5).
Our worship series: Growing God's Garden: UP, IN & OUT, will take place during weeks of September 10-October 8. I’m looking forward to exploring God’s vision for our church from these perspectives with you.