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I love gardening. It’s good for me. It grounds me, literally.
As dirt squeezes its way below my fingernails, God squeezes his lessons into me. My garden has become a classroom for me, one God uses to shape me as I participate, labor, and listen. Perhaps I feel at home in the garden because it is the area of my life most like ministry, with its joys, hard work, and frustrations. Many seeds won’t make it. Hail can move through like a herd of elephants. Bending over to tend a garden leaves me with a sore back.
The predominate narrative in our culture today is the factory. Machines dominate our processes. We produce things, we don’t cultivate them. Scripture calls those who are thirsty and hungry for Jesus “disciples”. Disciples are “made” through cultivation not “made” in factories. The gardener has invited us to learn from him and partner with him.
As I water and pull weeds I secretly, almost embarrassingly, pray for fruit to emerge. I also pray against cosmic car-crushing hail and ravenous bugs that could decimate these tender chutes. I had the privilege of being on sabbatical this summer and He changed my classroom location. God taught me through another apprenticeship in the garden this spring and summer. Whether it’s allegory, image or experiential learning here is what God taught me about ministry and discipleship this summer.
Discipling others is a rugged journey that can be exhausting. Guardrails is a book grown out of the garden of discipleship to give structure to growing the body of Christ. Can we grow disciples without burning out? YES. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it can be simple. It’s time to transition from an exhausting ministry of addition, to a fruitful ministry of multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.
Alan Briggs is the Director of Frontline Church Planting, a network and equipping hub in Colorado. He is also the Multiplying Pastor at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs where he makes disciples and trains leaders to multiply.
This article was originally posted on The Disciple-Maker Blog.
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