"How To Be A Good Farmer-Even In A City: Creating A Community-Based Ministry" Appeared In The January - March 2011 Elder's Digest. This Article Proposed "Ten Farming Commandments" Which Systematized Jesus' Ministry Method Into 10 Intentional Action Steps For Our Time1 And Served As An Introduction To A Series Of Elder's Digest Articles In The Coming Months That Would Unpack These 10 Commandments In More Detail.2 Below Is The Ninth And Final Article In The Series3. This Article Will Focus On The Eleventh "Farming Commandment."
Why are we talking about an 11th Commandment
in a series on “10 Farming Commandments?”
Because “farming” leads to something equally
important—reaping and keeping. It’s obvious that reaping
where you have farmed is necessary—just like farming before
you reap is common sense (or is it that common—in
ministry?). Here is the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not
ignore commandments 1-10, and thou shalt remember to
reap where thou hast farmed and keep what [who] thou doest
reap (disciple–preserve the harvest)!”
SEOUL JOONG-ANG GOSPEL CENTER
Let’s “visit” a sample church that demonstrates the whole
cycle of evangelism: farming, reaping, and keeping. The Seoul
Joong-ang Gospel Center in Seoul, Korea, is in the business
district of Seoul. Years ago, when Pastor Kim, Dae Sung was
the pastor of this Adventist congregation he caught an idea
from Ellen White’s writings to have a vegetarian restaurant in
his church’s neighborhood. However, first he chose to interview
community leaders in his territory to determine if they
felt that this idea would meet a real need, and, if so, would
they support it.
Pastor Kim, Dae Sung visited the businesses around the
church and explained his idea, asking for their input. From
these interviews he acquired pledges of support and money
from them to start the restaurant, for they indicated that it
would meet a real need. The neighborhood had many Buddhists
and needed good vegetarian restaurants for employees
to have a place to eat during their noon hour. The Buddhist
temple across the street also wanted the restaurant and they
pledged their support and donated money.
Members of Seoul Joong-ang Gospel Center started the requested vegetarian restaurant in their church building in 2002. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, and an ongoing goal is that it will continuously provide an opportunity for the church to connect with their community. One hundred fifty to 200 people continue to eat at the restaurant each day. The church uses the income from the restaurant to support the neighborhood. The customers know that and are happy. In addition to the good food, comprehensive health (physical, mental, spiritual) resources such as books and healthy foods are available for the customers to buy.
Through this restaurant, the church has demonstrated
the process of Gospel farming: preparing the soil, planting
seeds, and cultivating the resulting crop. The reaping part is
especially illustrated in another of Seoul Joong-ang Gospel
Center’s community-based ministries—their ministry to senior
The church has two separate worship services—one for
seniors (downstairs) – with approximately 300 attendees—and one for regular church members (upstairs) with approximately
300 attendees. An associate pastor of the church is in
charge of the senior citizen congregation.
On Sabbaths the senior ministry looks like this: During
Sabbath School time a generic program is presented—generally
an educational video on health. Worship service is from
10-11:00 am. From 11-11:30 four different kinds of activities
are offered: (1) Bible Study, (2) Singing time – Gospel music,
(3) English class, and (4) Health class. Then the seniors enjoy
a delicious lunch in the vegetarian restaurant. In addition, on
the first Sabbath of each month there are free medical services
(visits with a physician, etc.), free oriental treatments,
and beauty services (free haircuts, etc.). On the third Sabbath
of each month the church provides free shots (injections).
Two times per year the church holds reaping meetings
for those to whom they minister. The meetings are held after
lunch four Sabbaths in a row during the reaping times, with
a baptism on the fifth Sabbath. There are an average of 90
baptisms per year at Seoul Joong-ang Gospel Center—approximately
80 of which are from the senior citizens group.
The growing congregation for senior citizens continues to disciple
the seniors who were baptized. They have a Bible study
class for new members.
HOW ABOUT YOUR CHURCH?
Church leaders, is your church following the whole cycle
of “Gospel Farming?” Do you prepare the soil, plant seeds,
cultivate/nurture the “crops” (people) with ministries that connect
with the community and meet their felt needs? In so doing,
do you help those whom you serve to discover that they
have another need they might not have felt before—Jesus?
Holding regular reaping meetings will provide intentional opportunities
for those whom you serve to follow Jesus.
Keeping whom you reap needs as much intentionality as
the farming and reaping.4
Small groups are an effective way
to preserve your harvest. Actually, small groups are also
an important part of the farming process of planting seeds and cultivating, as well as preserving the harvest. In small
groups, deeper relationships can be formed with the Family
of God before decisions to follow Jesus are actually made.
There are various types of small groups:
Small groups for general Bible study for people who you
meet via community outreach programs - Gerson Santos,5
who has had much experience with discipling through small
groups, suggests a process for developing small groups
from the people who are not Adventists who attend our
community outreach programs: (1) Winsomely invite them
to study the Bible to meet their spiritual needs. (2) Hold these
groups at convenient times, such as during lunch hour. (3)
Do not teach a doctrinal series in these small groups—for
a person may join later and come for the first time during
a study on the Mark of the Beast. Rather, do more generic
Bible studies, such as the life of Jesus, etc. The Serendipity
is an example of a useful tool for leading general small
groups. Small group activities, icebreakers and discussion
questions are included with the words of Scripture. (4) If
someone in the group asks questions about Bible doctrines
the group leader can say that after the program we can
make an appointment for another day to study that issue
with some Bible texts that deal with this subject. (5) There
are many options for doctrinal Bible study lessons, such as
Discover, Amazing Facts, etc. What is the best lesson series?
Gerson Santos says, “The best Bible study series is
the one you use.” (6) Those who are baptized should join
a small group within your church. If you don’t already have
small groups organized in your church, a good place to start
is Sabbath School classes, which are built-in small groups
that already exist in your church.
New members’ Sabbath School class - The New Members’
Bible Study Guide, entitled In Step With Jesus, has
been prepared by the General Conference Sabbath School
and Personal Ministries Department to assist in the task of
making disciples. This series contains 52 lessons, and is
a valuable resource for assisting new members to connect with church members and with God. It will help them understand
and follow God’s Word, will demonstrate how to minister
to others, and will equip them for discipleship during
that all important first year of church membership.
Regular Sabbath School Classes – If your classes are
large, you may want to consider dividing them into smaller
groups. Each class should not only study the Bible, but
have a care coordinator who organizes care and follow up
for missing class members. Also each class should have a
community outreach project.
Your neighborhood/community is waiting for your
church to make a difference in their lives. Go and farm, reap,
and keep, using Christ’s ministry method, for His method
1 The 10 Farming Commandments are: (1) Thou shalt study Jesus’ ministry method and pray for…; (2) Thou shalt assess the resources in thy church; (3) Thou shalt establish a Social Action Leadership Team (SALT); (4) Thou shalt choose and narrow down thy territory; (5) Thou shalt do a demographic analysis on the chosen territory; (6) Thou shalt drive or walk around the chosen territory and note the homes, businesses, churches, people, etc.; (7) Thou shalt talk to community leaders and business people to discover community needs as they see them; (8) Thou shalt earn “Social Capital;” (9) Thou shalt develop a church strategic plan for church community involvement based on the felt community needs thou has discovered and the resources and dreams of thy church; (10) Thou shalt look for ways that God is already working in thy community. Celebrate, acknowledge, cooperate…. AND an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not ignore commandments 1-10, and thou shalt remember to Reap where thou hast farmed and keep what thou doest reap (disciple–preserve the harvest)!
2 So far, these follow-up articles have appeared in Elder’s Digest: (1) “Once a Month Jesus Comes and Holds My Hand…” (Oct.-Dec. 2011); (2) “Our Community Does Not Know Us…” (Jan.-March 2012); (3) “Help, Lord! I’ve Been Asked to Plant a Church!” (July-Sept. 2012); (4) “As I Walked Around and Looked Carefully…” (Jan.-March 2013); (5) “You’re the First Church That Ever Asked…” (July-Sept. 2013); and (6) “We Can’t Afford Not to Have Someone Like This in Our Community…” (Oct.- Dec. 2013); (7) “Strategic Ministry Planning So Your Church Will Make a Difference” (Jan.-March 2014); and (8) “Where Is God Already Active in Your Community?” (Oct.-Dec. 2014). To access these articles online, go to www.sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org. Click on Adventist Community Services, and “Articles & Media.” To access a comprehensive curriculum about community outreach, click on “Resources” and “IICM Community Services & Urban Ministry Certification Program Curriculum.” For a direct link, go to www.sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org/acs_iicm
3 Some of the articles in the series covered more than one “Farming Commandment.”
4 To access effective tools for discipling whom you reap, go to: www. growingfruitfuldisciples.com.
5 Gerson Santos is Director of the Global Mission Urban Mission Center for General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
The Serendipity Bible can be ordered online.
May-Ellen Colón is assistant director of the General Conference Sabbath
School and Personal Ministries Department and director of Adventist
Community Services International.