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Taking the Next Step – THORN ALERT!

On Sunday we talked about the parable of the sower and the different kinds of soil that the seeds Jesus sows can fall in. We also talked about what churches look like in the different kinds of soils.

The first type is the hard path. People like this just don’t seem to have any desire for the church or even God. Churches on the hard path don’t welcome visitors, tell you that your sitting in someone’s seat, and have people who think they own the church because of how long they’ve gone there. This soil is like their hearts – hard.

The second type is the shallow soil. People in this soil are always looking for something new. When they come to a church they dive right in and come to everything, volunteer at everything, and seem like they’re totally on fire for God. But then, when something bad happens to them, they are upset with God and feel like God should have rewarded them more for their hard work at church. If the church (or pastor) does anything they don’t like, they church shop for something that more closely “fits their needs”. Churches like this are always trying new things to grow. They don’t care about depth, but only about how many people come through the door and how high the offering is. Have you ever been to a church like this? What was it like?

The third type is the thorns. People in this situation do great until the thorns start to pull them away from God. The thorns can be money, busyness, kid’s sports, work, or tons of other things. Take a moment to think about the thorns in your life that pull you away from God. What are they? How can you dull the thorn? Churches like this start off great, but then start to take care of themselves more than those in need. They fight about dumb things. They worship the building they’re in instead of using it to make a real difference in people’s lives. On Sunday we talked about things that could be thorns for New Story Church and how we can avoid them. We all agreed to be on “thorn alert” and to not sit by quietly when thorns try to strangle out the great things God is doing here.

Finally, there is the deep soil. People in this soil are Godly without throwing it in your face. They never Scripture machine gun people, but live their lives in such a powerful way that they naturally draw people to the faith. Churches like this make a real difference. They spend most of their time and money on those outside of the walls of the church instead of being a hospice for those inside the walls. They may have disagreements (even strong ones), but they always treat each other well and remember to do whatever it takes to pull in the same direction. People in these churches are proud of their church and can’t wait to invite people to come.

We talked at the end of the message about where we are as a church. We agreed that we are in the deep soil, but we must be very careful for thorns (when I just tried to type “thorns”, my autocorrect made it into “thongs”. I hope we don’t have be on the lookout for “thongs” at New Story.) Some of the thorns we agreed we should look out for are the thorns of pride, focusing on money, worrying about what outside people think of New Story, and not continuing to put a tremendous emphasis on missions.

Spend some time thinking about what soil you are in. Be honest with yourself. What are the things that are keeping you from going deeper? What could you do to Round Up those thorns?

Now spend some time thinking about how you can help New Story to stay in the deep soil. What can you do to make a difference here? Ask God to help you make that difference.

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