Evangelism is likened in the Bible at times to seed sowing. Most famously, Jesus told a parable about a sower going forth to sow. In that parable, Jesus highlights that the results of the sowing often are dependent upon the condition of the soil. In each instance, the sower was the same, the seed was the same, but there were wildly different results based upon the type of soil upon which the seed fell.
A big part of world evangelism is evangelism, and one of the areas I think we fail in is to consistently sow lots of seeds. We often are too quite to criticise, to say a method does not work, or to change because we don’t see immediate fruit. But that does not mean that we should stop or that fruit will not come.
I was recently reminded of this truth in our church-planting efforts here in London. Last autumn, we began a door-to-door survey outreach. At one door, my daughter and I met a man who was very interested and had lots of questions. Shortly after we left, he phoned to ask if I would come back to chat with him more. I went back and had a very nice visit. I hoped to see him soon, but months went by and after contacting him a few more times, I still heard nothing. Then a couple weeks ago, he stopped by the church on a Saturday and told me he was going to come on Sunday. He did come, and I am excited about the work that God is going to do in his life.
Let me give you one other instance where seed-sowing worked, but it took time. In December, we participated in a local community festival at a nearby leisure centre. We gave out invitations and gospel tracts as well as letting people enter a prize draw for a Christmas hamper/basket. To enter the draw, they had to give us their details. All those who filled out a card then went on a list of people we contact periodically to invite them to church. This past weekend, I sent out a simple text: “We invite you to our services tomorrow at Downham Baptist Church at 11:30am and 6pm. Also Sun school and Bible class at 10:30am. Thanks. www.downhambaptist.org.” The next morning, a young couple came 40 minutes on a bus to visit the church. They seemed to really enjoy the service and said they had been looking for a long time for a good Bible-teaching church.
I hope these examples and the following passage of Scripture will encourage you to sow your seed, keep on sowing your seed, and sow lots of it because eventually there will be fruit, even if it takes a long time and you are aware of all the fruit.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 gives us 6 reasons to sow the seed:
1. We will reap after many days. (11:1 “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”) At the time, casting our bread upon the water may seem like a waste, but we will find it after many days. Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
2. We will not always have the opportunity to do so. (11:2 “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.”) Give what we can to as many as we can, because there may come a day when evil may come and we cannot give.
3. We don’t know who may really need our help. (11:3a “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth:”) Adam Clark says: “Act as the clouds; when they are full they pour out their water indifferently on the field and on the desert. By giving charity indiscriminately, it may be that thou wilt often give it to the unworthy: but thou shouldst ever consider that he is an object of thy charity, who appears to be in real want; and better relieve or give to a hundred worthless persons, than pass by one who is in real distress.”
4. We cannot sow after we die. (11:3b “and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”) In whatever direction you fall, that is the direction you will lie. Death changes nothing; cleanses nothing; kills no sin; helps us to be righteous. One person said, “I am going to do my givin while I’m livin, so I’m a knowin where it’s going.”
5. There will always be a reason not to sow. (11:4 “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.) If we go when everything is just right, we will never go. If we look at the wind or the clouds, we will never sow or reap.
6. We don’t know how God is going to work; we are just responsible to sow our seed. (11:5-6 5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. 6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.) We don’t know how God is going to work or who is going to get saved. We should just sow our seed in the morning and the evening, because we don’t know what God will use to bring forth fruit.