Fruitful Soil

Dear Friends,

“What strikes you most about the United States after living in Eastern Europe for 20 years?”

A friend asked me this question yesterday as my wife, Connie, and I shared the vision of Josiah Venture in a church in Denver, Colorado. It didn’t take me long to formulate an answer.

I’m always impressed by the size and strength of the evangelical church in America. There are so many committed believers, such a large number of healthy churches, and such amazing resources and capacity. Serving in an area of the world with few believers, I am always deeply encouraged by the number of Americans actively engaged in evangelical churches. The church in the United States is stronger than you realize.

At the same time I am concerned about fruitfulness. In the parable of the soils, Jesus describes four types of people. Some are like the path, where the seed of the gospel does not penetrate and is quickly snatched away by Satan because their hearts are hard. Others are like rocky soil, where the seed is received with joy but is forced to grow in difficult conditions and soon withers because of a lack of roots. We often meet these two kinds of soils in the harsh conditions of Central and Eastern Europe.

The third soil is weedy. Here the gospel grows, but an abundance of weeds chokes out the plant rendering it fruitless. In the lives of these believers there is an abundance of activity and programs, but in spite of all that green foliage there is little true life change. Luke tells us that the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth and pleasure stifle fruit. Weedy soil is a particular challenge for the American church.

The key to increasing fruit in weedy soil is not in what you add but in what you remove. Clearing out the good but non-fruit producing activities from your life creates room for those things that truly bring life change. Digging up the weeds of worry, desire for things, and pursuit of pleasure gives space for the seeds of the gospel to fill the garden with fruit.

Now that Spring is here, let’s not forget to weed,

Dave Patty President, Josiah Venture