In Mark 4 we have the very familiar parable of Jesus on The Sower and the Seed. In this story we have the man, the seed, and the soil. The seat is fixed, sure. The seed is the Gospel or God’s word. The man and the soil are factors not fixed, not sure. When I think of a church that is not producing a crop it seems the only possibilities for blame are either the man (the pastor) or the soil (the people making up the congregation, or possibly the community the pastor is trying to reach).
Some pastors I talk to have very poor soil to work with. Occasionally I run into poor pastors, poor in the sense that their gifting, skills, training, temperament, etc., are not what they could be or should be to effectively lead a church.
The seed is fixed, sure. There is never a problem with the seed. I often think that some churches will never be healthy and happy. I have more hope for the “poor pastor” because, as said above, skills can be learned and personality can be worked around. But if you have poor soil… that’s a hard one.
When a pastor has good soil the crops come much easier than the pastor who has poor soil. When you bring together a poor pastor with poor soil there is almost no hope unless, of course, there occurs an unsolicited or solicited sovereign invasion of Holy Spirit renewal or revival.
If a pastor has poor soil it is unlikely that anything he/she tries will work produce a crop. Until the quality of soil rises he/she will continue to labor in vain. But this is exactly what many pastors do: they ignore the soil and focus on other things, good things, but the good things don’t really have an effect upon the soil.
Questions for a pastor and leadership team to ask are:
1. Are the ministries my people are involved in resulting in a higher quality of soil?
2. What does good soil look like?
3. What produces good soil?
4. What is our soil like?
5. What could we do differently to increase the quality of soil?