Summary: This sermon is about our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission.
There are two green things I have been able to grow. One is mold. Now it’s not terribly difficult to grow that. Just place some leftovers in the back of the fridge and forget about it for a few months. That’s one thing I’m real good at.
The other green thing I have had success with is grass. On a couple of occasions I have planted grass seed, and, much to my surprise, it has actually grown. Now my mom was raised on a farm, but let me tell you I have no genetic predisposition to have any skill to grow anything.
Now there are a few things I learned about planting grass. You might want to write this down, because it’s good stuff. The first thing that’s necessary is that you need to determine where it is you need grass. If there is a large spot in you yard with nothing but dirt, that’s a pretty good indication that you might need grass. The second thing is to formulate a plan.
At our last house, we had to have the sewer line replaced from the house to the street. The plumbers came in and used a backhoe to dig up the front yard. When they replaced the dirt there was no grass. Now, being the genius that I am, I noticed that about 1/3 to ½ of our front yard was dirt. I thought, “Hmm, perhaps I should plant some grass.” Sounds like a plan to me. I had a friend come over and till up the ground, because it had become hard over the course of the winter. After he tilled it, I spread the seed over the freshly turned soil. I raked it in and watered it faithfully. After a few weeks, I saw sprouts of green peeking through the ground. After several weeks I had to mow the area previously engulfed with dirt and mud.
I was pretty proud of myself. I had determined that there was a need. I had a plan of action and I followed through on the plan. And you know what? It worked.
As I am new to this area, I see some things. I have looked at some demographic material. I see a huge spot of barren earth in the Greenville area. In Pitt County in 1998, 38.7% of the population was Protestant (Nazarene, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.), 16.7% was Catholic, 0.9% was other (non-Christian religions), and the unclaimed or unaffiliated percentage was 58.8%. That translates to over 43,000 people who do not identify with any religious group. Add that to those who say they are affiliated, but really are uninvolved, and you see a large bare spot.
That is one large bare spot in this area. What would you do if your lawn was nearly 60% barren? Would you sit back and say, “Aw, someone else can do the job!”? I suppose you would formulate a plan of action. You would figure out how much seed you needed. You might even determine what type of seed you need. You would buy the seed, plant it and water it, and whatever else you needed.
Nearly 60% unclaimed can be daunting. 43,000 is a huge number, especially when we are 20. So, we see the need. We understand the enormity of the situation. What are we to do? Is this task too big? What’s the best plan of action?
Turn with me to Matthew 28:16-20.
The first task is to plant.
The first part of Jesus’ Great Commission is to “go and make disciples.” This is the process of getting people into the Church. This is sharing the Good News that Jesus died for their sins. When they accept that, this first part of our job is done.
It’s not our job to convert anyone. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Our job is to present the opportunity for them to allow Jesus to save them.
It’s like the planting of grass. Our job is not to make the grass sprout. It’s our job to spread the seed. We put the seed in the ground.
When we go and spread the grass seed, there are several ways to do it. We can hold the bag and spread the seed by hand, tossing it here and there across the barren land. We can use a spreader. There are two basic types of spreaders: the broadcast spreader and the drop spreader.
There are also many ways we can go about our job of covering the barren area of Greenville area.
History shows us many methods of reaching people. There is the crusade method. Billy Graham popularized this. Thousands, if not millions, came to know Jesus by this method. There is the door knocking method. Walking up and down the streets, talking to people on their doorsteps or in their living rooms. Recently “seeker services” have become popular. This is where the pastor encourages people to bring pre-Christian friends to a service specifically geared for them. “Friendship evangelism” has gained popularity recently. This is where people work to make friendships before sharing the Good News. There are other methods.