I am convinced that we in the church do not understand the concept of harvesting. I can’t begin to count the times I have heard someone say, “I am just here to plant seeds.” They obviously do not understand farming. No wonder we do not know how to harvest.
Can we learn to harvest and not see our planting as the real and valid ministry of clergy and congregations?
I believe God calls us to sow seeds and to harvest the fruit of those seeds. Some may interpret the biblical teaching on fruitfulness as a call to sow seeds and walk away. I do not. I hear a call on my life to harvest, to bring in the fruits of the Spirit in such a way that hungry people are fed and persons come to discipleship in Jesus Christ.
Living where I do, I see lots of “good farmers” driving up and down the road with planters in the season of harvest. Don’t they know that they need to get the combine out to bring in the harvest? But alas, they do not know how to run the combine. Perhaps it is too dangerous or complex for them. Combines are generally not as safe as planters. Threshing taking place at harvest — dividing, sorting, decision making — and at the end of the day it is finished. Harvest takes some moxie!
The question is, can we hold to the boundaries, honesty, faith, and care, yet still be about the very thing that brings fruitfulness, harvest? Can we learn to harvest and not see our planting as the real and valid ministry of clergy and congregations? Can we be bold enough to find new ways to harvest, for our forebears’ machines are worn and unknown to a new generation? Can we engage in this long process of harvest without losing heart, without taking our eyes off the prize, realizing all the while, “I am the vine, you are the branches”? (John 15.5)