The Parable Of The Sower
To be efficient in our evangelism churches would do well to target those most likely to respond, Right?
Actually no. While it may sound like good business practice the church is not, or at least should not be, a business.
Last Sunday, in the first of a series of Sermons on the parables of Jesus, Holy Trinity Huddersfield had the parable of the sower. Here it is:
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13, 3-91
This week this has been on my mind, and my mind has been on a different tack to the sermon we had, not that I disagree, but because there is often more than one conclusion that can be drawn from a passage of scripture.
It is so wasteful.
First century agriculture was a different thing to what we have now, there were no tractors and seed drills to put seed where it was wanted, instead the seed was scattered from the hand, called broadcasting. This seed in the story was scattered in four different places. In three of those places it had little effect (other than some well fed birds), there was no crop at harvest.
It is so wasteful.
Jesus explained that the seed in the story represents the message of the kingdom. We could conclude that we should focus our teaching to where it would be most effective, we should look for the good soil. And we would be wrong.
Nowhere does the the story say the sower was wrong to sow onto the path, onto rocky ground or into the thorns, even though it was wasteful.
It was wasteful because God is wasteful.
God’s love goes out to all people, no matter who or where they are. The message is for all because God loves them. Our job is to broadcast the message of God’s love for all. Even if it is wasteful.
The previous week Linda and I had been at a different church, Pool Quays church near Welshpool, Wales. A rural church with a small congregation. Yet the Church of England and Church in Wales spends its resources on such places despite the lack of numbers. The parochial system means that there is a church for everyone, even where the population is small and there is very little chance of filling he churches.
It is wasteful of the church’s resources to maintain buildings and pay staff for so few. But the Gospel is for all. But behind the statistic of empty buildings is another one, there are more people per head of population attending churches in rural areas than in urban areas. Despite appearances, rural parishes are the Anglican Churches secret weapon. Long may it be resourced, despite the waste.