Ripeness: Proactively Waiting For Change

“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
(Mark 4:26-29)

Plenty of us who lead congregations are visionary people. We grow excited when the church begins dreaming about who and what it can become. We love to look ahead, dreaming new dreams and seeing new visions. Add to this visionary tendency the awareness that the Church must adapt to survive in our Postmodern culture and our urgency escalates even more. So for people like this, patience with the growth process which is ultimately beyond our control, is elusive. After reading the parable above about how the kingdom comes, we understand the role of we farmers when it comes to kingdom growth.

• Farmer cannot force growth
• Farmer’s role in the growing process is to cultivate growing environments
• Farmers act on faith in the intrinsic growth impulse embedded in the seeds

When cultivating urgency, we want the crops to be ripe for harvesting RIGHT NOW. For many of us, our urgency levels were already extremely high before even beginning to cultivate readiness for adaptive change. Our challenge then is to allow the harvest to ripen before plucking it prematurely.

So, here is the frame through which we can look. Raising urgency, followed by maintaining within the congregational system the tension thereby created, IS DOING something. In fact, waiting is a necessary activity for cultivating adaptive change. When in this place of waiting, congregational leaders are NOT doing nothing. Their role is to keep the heat turned to a productive level, constantly monitoring urgency levels. Trust me, when engaged in this work, you will not have the time nor energy to think you are doing nothing.

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA