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Steve Zimmerman: Signs of New Life

Posted: 3/27/18 at 11:45am. Column by Steve Zimmerman.

My dad grew up on a farm and brought that agricultural mentality with him years later when he raised a garden in town. Every year as children, my sister and I thought it was a good idea to plant seeds when the first signs of spring came calling. He reminded us that he took advice from old farmers when they always waited until Good Friday to plant. Every year his gardens did well based on this logic. I think, though, that if he were around this month with our unusually cold Virginia weather, he might reconsider and instead do his planting in May!

As we look toward warmer weather, many of us are getting our yards and gardens ready for new growth. It is always a joy to see the fruits of our labor brought on by our hard work—fruits that wouldn’t exist if we didn’t prepare for them first. The biblical principle of “whatever a man soweth that shall he also reap” applies in our personal lives and in the life of your Bible study class as well.

Here are some good spiritual planting steps you might want to consider this spring to reap the benefits later. Any one of these actions could renew your life as well as the lives of those whom you lead at church.

Plant some new challenges in your life. When was the last time you went deeper to understand the scripture than just to get ready for the next Bible study lesson? How long ago was it when you took advantage of some training to be a better teacher? If it has been a while regarding either question, it might be a good time for you to get some seeds planted. How can you challenge your class members to be better Christians if you don’t take on some new efforts yourself? A renewed life from you, the leader, spills over to your group. Everyone benefits!

Plant new leadership seeds in your class members. Who will be the next generation of Bible study and church leaders? No church just instantly gets ready-made leaders. They are nurtured after they are called, but someone has to plant the seed first. Will it be you?

Plant a new class. If your class has plateaued in attendance, you might find it helpful to consider this approach. It might be that your class’ attendance is in decline and needs a new direction. New groups planted correctly have a greater degree of success, because they have been given room to grow. They also have a greater yield for the kingdom than the older, established groups do. You might even use some of your new leadership seeds to get these studies going.

Plant a partnership with a younger or older class in your church. Although we usually learn best with our peers in Bible study, we sometimes miss out on a higher level of church interaction that can bring new life to our class. Are there children or preschool classes in your church that need adopting? What would it look like if your class provided some much-needed resources to make those young lives flourish? Many churches are struggling to reach young adults as well. The younger generation can get wisdom and encouragement from the older folks, while the latter can benefit from renewed energy coming from these younger people. Just think of the endless possibilities of growth that both younger and older adults could receive if they came together with ideas!

Maybe you can come up with other potential opportunities for growth. But remember that they won’t happen if there is no planting. Happy gardening!

Steve Zimmerman is the founder of the Barnabas Partnership, a church consulting group. He lives in Danville where is wife, Angela, serves as Associate Pastor and Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Danville.