I am no expert at gardening. In fact this is my first year of even attempting to grow vegetables. In the past, we enjoyed the flowers that previous people planted but even then never weeded or cared for the plants in any way.
This year, I felt like growing a garden, particularly vegetables (and a few flowers). Just a couple of months into it, I have already seen some amazing parallels to church ministry.
Here is some of what I have learned.
- New things start out fragile. While it was exciting to see that first green, it did not take much for them to die. New ministries need special care at the start.
- You can’t judge success by the initial results. Some of the plants that looked the healthiest at the beginning are already dead and never had the chance to be transplanted outside. Just because there is lots of excitement at the beginning of a ministry does not mean that it will stand the test of time.
- Both require ongoing attention. It is not enough to just plant some seeds or a young plant. Weeding and watering are required activities. Most church ministries need ongoing attention. Vision leaks and it is so easy for a ministry to become ineffective and drift from the central mission.
- Things take time. Some of the seeds that I planted took so long to grow that I thought that nothing would happen. But after time, up from the soil they would emerge. Church ministries can take time to get going. Don’t expect an explosion of success right at the beginning. Ministry requires patience.
- It may not be the right time. We transplanted some healthy looking indoor plants to our outdoor garden. Within a week or so, they were dead. It was the wrong time to transplant them. Some ministries are good ideas that have a solid biblical foundation. But is it the right time? Some ministries that fail at one time may be successful at another time.
- Success can happen. We have some healthy plants in our outdoor garden. We wouldn’t have this if we hadn’t tried. No matter what size a church is, there is a ministry that will work.
- Have reasonable goals. I have a goal for my garden. My goal is to be able to eat one thing from my garden this year. I may be aiming a little low. But it would be unreasonable to expect success for everything I plant. What is your goal for ministry at your church? Are you looking to double attendance in six months? Choose a reasonable goal for your ministry.