Feeding Body and Soul
Visiting the Ministry of Farmchurch
Last Sunday I looked at our new class of Confirmands sitting in the front row and thought about how wonderful it was that God had planted this amazing crop of young members in our midst. I preached on Mark 4:1-9 and encouraged them to plant their seeds of faith in the right kind of soil. We talked about the dangers of weeds and distractions and apathy and of course, ended with a word of hope and encouragement that we receive from Jesus, right here in this story, that the best soil of all is found here in the opportunities that God has given us. Faith and service, worship and witness, caring and love, they are all a part of the crops that we are allowed and enabled to grow.
And that’s when it hit me. We are not supposed to think about such things while we are preaching, but I do, all the time. It struck me that the themes that we touch on so often in our rural settings, planting, growing, cultivating and harvesting, are not just activities that the farmers in our midst engage in as a lifestyle and a vocation. And they are not simply a metaphor for the work we do as Christians out in the world. Sometimes they actually go together. We all have the opportunity to nurture crops of faith, while at the same time getting our hands deep in the soil and helping to provide for those who are in need around us. Worship and service are two parts of the same cycle, each encouraging and reinforcing our need for the other.
One of the best examples of this dynamic is found in the work and ministry of Farmchurch, a ministry that started as a vision of Rev. Ben Johnston-Krase, literally springing out of a dream, and ending up in the rich soil around Durham, North Carolina. It is both church and garden, focusing on the actual need to grow crops from the ground that will eventually feed the men and women and children in need in the surrounding area. We all try to feed the spiritual lives of our members and many of our churches hold food drives of different kinds to supply the pantries in our areas. But this amazing church takes that work one step further by finding meaning and metaphor in the process of planting and harvesting, of succeeding and failing, of worshiping with their hearts as well as their hands. They witness God at work in a very special way. It is a great story.
Check out the work of Farmchurch at https://www.farmchurch.org/
Like many unique ministries, you may not be able to replicate their work in your context. But I would be surprised if you don’t find an idea or two that you will be excited to introduce to your church as a way of bringing new vitality to your work in this place God has planted you.