Church planting in the US where there is a gospel culture and history is one thing. Church planting in truly postmodern Italy where there is no gospel culture and it's only history in the last 1000 years is of a false gospel is another thing.
Sowing, also known as pre-evangelism, is the most overlooked aspect of church planting by most missionaries, yet the most important aspect of church planting in Italy.
On average, people in Italy are not ready to be evangelized. The spiritual soil is rough and wild and full of rocks and debris. The soil must be stirred and the trash must be removed - these are all the wrong ideas about God, the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Patience must be applied to hard and strategic labor in order to bring people to Saving Faith in Jesus Christ. Too many a missionary has come eager to serve without doing his homework to understand his conditions or tactics. The result is upsetting - the missionary gets frustrated and leaves and the Italian people get pushed farther from God, not nearer.
Sowing is the pre-evangelism necessary for reaching post-modern culture Italy. It is intentional, meaning that it is something besides the ‘as-it-happens’ method of reaching the lost; reaching out to only your neighbors and associates. It is also something additional to the gospel community groups which also serve for sowing through welcoming non-believers into the home where they get exposed to gospel life and word. The importance of sowing is due to the fact that the average person is not ready to be evangelized in our culture. The idea is that heart soil must be cultivated (false ideas of God and church to be removed like stones and trash must be removed from the soil where crops grow so that gospel seeds can be planted and nourished) to cause people to have an interest in the things of God, something they currently don’t have.
Sowing the gospel well causes the average Italian who does not see any need to consider the things of God to realize that he/she is in error and ought to consider the things of God. It gives the elect an opportunity to respond to the calling of the Lord Himself and get connected to us and a gospel community group.
Sowing the gospel well causes us to meet people that God the Father is already calling to Himself and desiring to save and become part of His church in formation. Many of these people are likely to be people that would not normally choose to be our friends, but that God would call us to love and lead to Jesus. This is good because too often we only associate with people like ourselves.
The gospel is sowed in Word and Deed, both are necessary. People are exposed to Jesus through both His Word (Jesus is the Word made flesh) and the good deeds and services rendered by His people (we are the body of Christ).
Sowing is something missionaries do and gospel community groups do together. It is always done as if unto the Lord Himself and in constant prayer and dependency upon the Lord. It is a very practical way of creating a very real understanding of the mission the Lord gives to every believer, and it is practical in that even new believers can get involved from the beginning. It welcomes participation in the Lord’s work of building His church and eliminates bad starts to Christian life; independent thinking and Christian living apart from community, mission and church involvement.
Fruit may be instant, but for most cases it is something that is seen in time, like any other seed the gospel seed often takes time to grow. Our social deeds often serve to water and shine light on these seeds while we always know, God alone causes the growth through regeneration.
Failure to sow the gospel intentionally will lead to successfully ignoring the majority of the population of the city. Sowing done well, and blessed by the Lord, will enable the majority of the city to be engaged by the Christian community (Christ Himself) through both Word and deed.
#sowing #missions #churchplanting #postmodernculture