by Dave Miller
E.M. Bounds once wrote:
“Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”
If not you then who? If not now then when? Jesus taught:
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The kingdom harvest comes when a man decides to be a seed sower. You don’t have to be a Miller farm boy to realize there is no harvest without planting seeds and seeds don’t plant themselves. Jesus gives us incredible insight into how the kingdom grows through this parable of the sower. Nathan Shank broke this parable down into six S’s.
Jesus has already interpreted the Sower in Mark 4 to the disciples. He is the one who scatters the seed. There MUST be women and men willing to scatter the seed. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:6:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
I realize the context of this passage refers to the generous gifts to the famine burdened believers in Judea, but doesn’t the principle hold true because of the kingdom ways? Shank wrote, “It is simple logic. How many people will hear the gospel today within your ministry?”
We know from Jesus’ earlier teaching the Seed sown is the Word of God. The gospel of Jesus is required for new life. Paul wrote in Romans 10:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says:
“Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
If the hand of the sower is not sowing seed there will be no harvest. There is no room to abdicate our role. Let’s make sure that one sticks: If the hand of the sower is not sowing seed there will be no harvest. What is your message? You already know: The #3Circles Gospel tool. Practice. Practice again. You are ready.
The Soil represents the heart of men and women who hear. Jesus taught this as well in the parable at the beginning of Mark 4, The Parable of the Four Soils (Mark 4:1-20). I know these principles seem really basic but remember Lambardi? “Boys, this is a football.” The basics are often the most overlooked element.
An image-bearing ambassador, the priests of God, must speak the gospel to people who are far from God. You will never reach the nations if you are sitting with the saved waiting for the Lord’s return. With whom will you share? You have already been trained in the tool to find who. Your relationship map lays out the direction for you to actively engage in gospel conversations. If you still have not developed your map, stop and list your people places and passions on the map and follow them to at least a second generation. Actively pray for your ministry and systematically engage in sharing the gospel with them every single week.
How will we get to all nations if each of us doesn’t own our responsibility? I constantly have conversations with “Christians” who have no desire to engage the mission. Many refer to their pastors, church, Sunday worship experience, or “people like you,” who will get the job done because of the “passion that works for you.” Yet, the truth? The task is too large for the current active image-bearing ambassadors. Everyone MUST get involved. That includes you. In fact, Jesus return is linked to man’s obedience in the gospel of Matthew. Should it be any surprise since men are God’s method?
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
One reason we have not yet welcomed our Savior’s second coming is the remaining task of reaching the lost peoples of the world (2 Pet. 3:9/Mt. 24:14). This is our partnership in the task. God’s end vision includes priests from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne in worship (Rev. 5:9-10). The hope of the Lord’s coming must always be coupled with a desire to carry on his work among the peoples of the world.
Will you sow the seed of the gospel among those who are far from God? If Jesus commands disciple making why aren’t you obeying?
Disciple making takes time.
“The sower sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (Mark 4:27-28).
I once asked a gifted disciple maker, Chuck Wood, “How long does it take a disciple to mature?” His response, “It takes as long for a disciple to mature as it takes them to mature.” We cannot speed up the process. The pace depends on the disciple’s obedience and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. However, I can assure you we can slow them down. Regardless, disciple making requires a disciple and a disciple maker. You must engage and walk them through a season of discipleship. Disciple making in all reality is simply partnering with the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of another disciple. Our intentionality and process reproducibility greatly affects the pace.
You have been trained in a short-term disciple making process. The 10 Ways to Follow Jesus gives you the tools using the 3/3rds process to walk a new believer or maturing believer towards multiplication and becoming like Jesus. You can partner with the Holy Spirit to make image-bearing ambassadors!
No farmer plants seeds without expecting a harvest. What is the end goal: Image-bearing ambassadors gathering among people from every tribe tongue and nation. Every believer has been called to make disciples, some of you will be gifted in gathering disciples into churches.
“Church Planter” has taken a very official overtone. Highly educated, financially funded, charismatic leaders whose sole job revolves around gathering a congregation tends be the image attached to “church planter.” Those characteristics are not required and should in no way exclude teachers, businessmen, general laborers, former drug users, fisherman (Peter), tax-collectors (Matthew), former political coup soldiers (Simon the Zealot), and professional religious leaders turned tent-makers (Paul).
There was a time when each and every professional church planter wasn’t ready, prepared, equipped, and capable. If they were honest, most (if not all) would say they are still not ready, prepared, equipped, and capable. How are you ever going to know unless you do? I realize about a tenth of you will actually plant a church from a handful of disciples you make and even fewer will see those churches multiply, but Jesus never commanded you to multiply churches, he has commanded you to make disciples. Just know, that once you start, don’t be surprised when the Holy Spirit empowers your obedience beyond anything you could ask or imagine. And P.S. we have coaches ready through the #NoPlaceLeft coalition who are ready to mentor and partner with you to learn and grow.
Just remember one thing: The answer will never be the methods. Tools help you participate in the kingdom ways. The tools we have given you are starting blocks, they are not finish lines. The are intended to get you going, but the Spirit will lead as you go.
The sower knows not how. The earth produces by itself. After all the work to sow, cultivate, fertilize, and harvest, the actual fruit has nothing to do with the sower. Only God gives the increase.
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth . . . For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field…” (1 Cor. 3:8-9).
Therefore, we are responsible for what we can control. God is responsible for the outcome. We can control:
Abiding in Jesus
To whom we share.
What we share.
How we disciple.
How we gather.
We cannot and will never control the Spirit and his harvest. But you can intentionally partner with the Holy Spirit, because God wants to use you. Men are God’s method.
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
The Mission of Jesus is the mission of the church. Everything, I mean everything, should be leveraged for the neighborhoods and the nations to know and worship Jesus until there is #NoPlaceLeft. You cannot escape the absolute reality of God’s call in your life. Your call to salvation was your call to mission.
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Bounds, E. M. (2004-03-01). The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer: Experience the Wonders of God through Prayer (p. 447). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Nathan Shank and Kari, Four Fields of Kingdom Growth: Reproducing Churches Using Simple Tools(Self-Published, 2011), 9.
Nathan Shank and Kari, Four Fields of Kingdom Growth: Reproducing Churches Using Simple Tools(Self-Published, 2011), 10.
Look in the appendix to find 2 more short-term disciple making tools. (7 Commands of Christ and 9 Commands of Christ) Which you choose is up to you and your context. The key is consistency in tools and driving the process using the 3/3rds.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat