Our Leadership Team has been talking a lot about gardening recently. Actually, they don't know they've been talking about gardening but they have. Don't tell them.

In order to be a good gardener, first you have to figure out what you're trying to grow. Then you need to provide the right environment and the right nourishment. From a human standpoint (of course), the right seed combined with the right environment and the right nourishment will produce the kind of fruit  you're hoping to see.

Our staff team knows we are 100 percent dependent on God to cause spiritual growth. For our part we want to plant the right kind of seed in the right kind of environment with the right kind of nourishment while depending on God to do His part (1 Corinthians 3:6). If we are haphazard in our gardening, we shouldn't be surprised when we aren't trusted to tend the garden of our dreams.

If you're trying to grow tomatoes, but throw a grab-bag of garden seeds into a pile of dirt, you shouldn't be surprised when the black-eyed peas overtake and choke-out your tomato plants. You may get a few tomatoes, but not nearly as many as you would have if you had planted more carefully.

If you throw tomato seeds into the wrong kind of environment, again - you might get enough tomatoes for a salad but you won't be sharing with the neighbors.

If you combine the right seeds in the right environment but use all your water and fertilizer on the cucumbers, you'll be tempted to brag about your pickles even though what you really wanted was something else.

Our Staff and Elders spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years thinking about what "crop" God has called us to cultivate at our church. Now we're asking the equally critical questions: "What environments and nourishment will be essential to have that kind of garden?" and "What things could threaten that environment or compromise the crop?"

It's the spade-work of gardening: It's not always fun or rewarding and the results seem like a long way off. But if you've ever seen a flourishing garden, you know it's worth the work. Especially when the stakes are so high.