Have you ever attempted to grow a garden? After a number of somewhat successful, and many not-so-successful, attempts, I have learned that it is not as easy as just putting some seeds in the soil and then watering them. Having a bountiful harvest requires that a number of things be done correctly and in the proper order.

Proper gardening
First, the ground must be prepared, which can involve removing rocks, weeds, and other obstacles. Next, the soil must be opened up by tilling; and then the seeds can be sown. But before sowing the seed, you need to make sure the soil has adequate nutrients for it and that it is the proper time of the year with the soil and air at the right temperature. Then, seeds can be sown and covered with the appropriate amount of soil. That’s right, seeds are not all the same, and they must be planted at the correct depth; too deep or too shallow and the seed will not sprout correctly. The farmer also understands that he or she needs the proper amount of water and sunlight, and that they have to tend to the plants by fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and maybe even staking. Clearly, gardening and farming involve much more than throwing seeds out into a field.

Sowing the Gospel
Bearing in mind these truths about gardening can be a great help when it comes to sharing our faith. Like gardening, people fail to understand that effective witnessing of the Gospel is most often not merely a matter of quoting the Bible. That would be like throwing seeds into the field and then expecting a harvest. Almost everyone is trapped in some form of cognitive dissonance—holding onto concepts that contradict each other. We must spend time properly preparing the soil of their minds to understand and then accept the Gospel. People, like the fields in which the gardener plants his seeds, are all different. Successful witnessing requires that we plant the proper seed. We also have to be sensitive to the seasonal timing and recognize that we may be watering and pulling weeds, while someone else will do the actual reaping.

Reaping a bountiful Gospel harvest
As Francis Schaeffer stated, the Gospel message must be simple to the hearer, not the speaker. If we want the Gospel seed to germinate, then we must take the time to understand other peoples’ thinking, help them to see the inconsistencies in their thoughts, and then show them how the Gospel is the complete answer. If we sow properly and then water and tend to the seed we’ve sown, we will increase our opportunities for a bountiful harvest.