Spiritual Farming 101
“When you are giving people the gospel, you are giving them something to believe, and you have to set the stage for that. You don’t just drive up and dump the truck and drive off.” – Chuck Swindoll
The date was Saturday, June 6, 1987. A van full of Christian softball players arrived at Leesburg State Prison in New Jersey not knowing what to expect. We were scheduled to play a doubleheader against the inmate All-Star team and to share the gospel between games. None of us had ever stepped foot inside a correctional facility before, so this was an entirely new experience.
The first mistake I made as manager was to bring a full equipment bag with us. Inside the bag was everything we needed – or thought we needed – to play softball, including three long metal pegs to hold down the bases. The correctional officer in charge looked at me as if you to say, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
Fortunately, the games went off without a hitch and our gospel presentation was very well received, with eight inmates trusting Christ as Savior. On the way home, the following thought occurred to several of us at the same time: “What now?”
We had just led eight men to saving faith in Christ, but had no plans in place for how to disciple them. And so, we held an impromptu board meeting in the van and by the time we had pulled into the church parking lot, we had sketched out a rough strategy that included personal follow-up letters, hand-signed birthday cards, and correspondence Bible study courses. With a few tweaks here and there, that discipleship plan served us – and hundreds of thousands of prisoners – well for the next 24 years and counting.
The bottom line is you don’t just share the gospel – or lead someone to faith in Christ – and then walk away. Actually, your job has just begun. The seed that you just planted needs to be watered and cared for in order to grow deep roots and bear much fruit.
Be a good spiritual farmer. Plant, cultivate, harvest…and repeat.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23 (NKJV)
Rev. Dale M. Glading, President