At the 2004 International Conference, the Lord stirred our hearts through the preaching of Ted Donnelly on the subject of “Our Calling in Christ.” Following Pastor Donnelly’s lead, we pray that you would commit to the calling of sowing the gospel in three specific ways.
“Time to Plant, Called to Sow”
In the Bible, the analogy of planting is used to illustrate many truths. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that the seed is the Word of God. Thus the gospel is like scattered seed, sometimes meeting fertile soil and sometimes hardened, weed-choked soil. To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of planting and watering as mission work while resting in God to grant the harvest. And seeing the harvest of souls, Jesus called the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the fields, for they are white unto the harvest. And so saying, He sent the disciples out two by two in order to preach and teach the gospel of the kingdom. Christ reiterated this calling when He commissioned the apostles, and thus the church, to “Go and make disciples of every nation.” Without question, we as believers and we as a church are called to proclaim the gospel of Christ. We are called to sow.
In 1988, the Home Mission Board applied this teaching to the RPCNA, calling the church to the work of evangelism and church planting through the vision called “Time to Plant.” Out of that vision, God has graciously been at work building His church. He has inspired the denomination to be about the gospel ministry and to sow generously in the work of church planting. The seed has been scattered broadly, sometimes falling on hard, weed-choked ground, but other times falling on rich, fertile soil that has produced a great harvest.
Since 1988, fourteen new congregations and continuing mission churches have been planted. In addition, serious development is happening in five new locations with church planters on site. Four congregations currently are training Residents with a view toward daughtering new works in the near future. And two Presbyteries have employed men to serve as developers and coordinators for evangelism and church planting. For that matter, God has stirred up efforts in church planting in each of the seven North American Presbyteries. Without question, God has been good to us, causing us to “come again with rejoicing, bringing sheaves with us” (Ps. 126:6).
Isn’t the field white? Isn’t the Lord of the harvest sending us out, bearing the precious seed? Believing this to be the case, the Home Mission Board renews the call of the “Time to Plant” by urging the church to see that she is “Called to Sow.”
- Being called to sow begins with the personal commitment to evangelism. We bear a precious seed. However it is precious not in the hoarding but in the scattering. Christ has called us to labor in the gospel fields. He has taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come,” praying that God would be glorified by the salvation of sinners. God has called us to represent Him, to present Him, to proclaim Him. In this light, the call to sow is a call to be personally active in sharing the love of Christ to the world around us. In order to strengthen our hands in this work, the HMB sponsored an evangelism workshop at the 2004 International Conference. In it, we were confronted and convicted about the sin of silence, and we were given practical help in presenting the gospel. Several congregations have taken that material home to encourage their congregations. Being called to sow, pray that God would use you personally and as congregations to advance the kingdom of grace and to bring others into it.
- Being called to sow is intimately connected to planting churches. We believe that God has ordained the church to be the pillar and ground of the truth and the corporate instrument of proclaiming His Good News. If we as individuals will give ourselves to the calling of sowing through personal evangelism, we must also give ourselves to sowing corporately through church planting. Believing it to be part of our calling to sow, the HMB would prayerfully set before you a vision for the year 2020, a “2020 Vision” if you will. Currently, in 2005, we have 86 congregations and 5 mission churches for a total of 91 combined congregations and mission churches. “2020 Vision” – 100 combined congregations and mission churches. To meet this goal, we would need to plant six new churches every five years. Being called to sow, pray that God would build His church through the addition of healthy, growing, multiplying congregations.
- Being called to sow is expensive but God is expansive. The call to sow involves people and money.
- The call to sow is a call for men for the ministry, for soul-winning men and women to be committed to working in church plants, for college graduates to consider vocations in areas where the church is planting, for each congregation to recommit to evangelism in their its back yard. As we are called to sow, pray and commit to investing your time and gifts in service to God by making deliberate decisions to be involved in evangelism and church planting.
- The call to sow is a call for investing money in kingdom work. Our Great God financed much of the recent church planting efforts through the visionary generosity of many individuals through the “Time to Plant” Fund. That fund is almost exhausted. The Board projects being out of funds in 2013. Being called to sow, pray and commit to investing your money in kingdom work. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).