A Time to Sow
by Walter Henegar, Senior Pastor
This year is a time to sow.
Sowing is a popular metaphor in the Bible. In Jesus' parable of the Sower, seeds represent God’s Word, soil represents human hearts, and what God grows from the two are “fruitful” human lives. Ministry, then, is about distributing God’s Word in diverse and deliberate ways, expecting God to bring results in his timing. That’s our ministry theme for 2017-2018: Sow.
Why a ministry theme? Because your church staff has been working hard to build structures – like community groups, adult Sunday school, and programs for children and youth – and we want to keep them in sync across the church. We think this kind of coordination is especially important in a season of significant change.
On one hand, Westside has been changing ever since we started almost 10 years ago. New people visit, join, learn and serve; new relationships are formed, children are born and grow up, and new ministries are started. In a big city like Atlanta, “old” people constantly move, change jobs, go back to school, get married, or migrate to another church. We couldn’t stay the same if we wanted it to – and we don’t!
On the other hand, the last year has brought some especially dramatic changes, including: • relocating Sunday worship to Boyd in April • moving the church offices to Strongbox in October • initiating a “soft” building campaign in the fall, raising $1.7M in gifts and pledges • hiring our largest staff to-date, with six serving full-time and four part-time
All of this has happened while continuing our three-years-and-counting search for a permanent facility. Since the Lord has not seen fit to fulfill that desire yet, it’s tempting to just bide our time till we become a “real” church with a building. May it never be! Building or no, we are already a real church, and there is always Gospel work to be done.
We also believe the hearts of our people are especially thirsty right now. Early on, Westside attracted a lot of ministry “marines”: mature men and women who had been thoroughly discipled and were itching to charge a new hill. In the last few years, though, more of our members and attenders are entering Westside at the front end of the discipleship curve. We see this not as a liability but a thrilling opportunity to reinvest what God has entrusted to us.
And all this sowing is not just for those who are already in the church. In Jesus’ parable, the Sower scattered seed over many different kinds of hearts, including those who were far from him. We want to be generous in how we sow, giving away both the Gospel and our lives among our friends and neighbors. We also want to leverage our growing organizational maturity to deploy more people into service for the needs of the community.
We don’t know exactly how God will bear fruit from our sowing, but we know he will. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”