BUILDING AND RESPONDING TO A GROWTH ENVIRONMENT
LUKE 8:4-15

INTRODUCTION:

We have started to look at our Mission statement as a Church.
Who are we?
What should we be doing as a church family?
What is Nations all about?

Here at Nations we are all about “Advancing the Kingdom”.
This is done in a progressive manner:
Seek … Grow … Serve … Go

• Seek … seeking meaning … seeking community … and eventually seeking Jesus.
• Grow … personally … spiritually … relationally. Our Christian walk should become a walk of progressive growth
• Serve … we need to discover our gifts … be released into active service … and build our effectiveness as we do so.
• Go … to advance into a needy world … connect with un-churched people … and make an impact on them by how we live, what we do and what we say … to reach those who are seeking in such a way that they find Jesus in the process.

Wherever we are “at” today we can find a place in this process.
Our job, at Nations, is to help people discover where they are on their journey and help them to Advance the Kingdom in their life.

Today I want to look in a little more detail at the second step of our growth track … Grow.

1. LIVING THINGS THRIVE IN A GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

Luke 8:4-15

Two important things to note about this parable:
• The seed is the same. The problem here is NOT the seed.
• Growth is determined by the conditions the seed finds itself in.

Our focus at Nations, must therefore be on building and learning to respond to a good growth environment.

Illus: 6 identical plants planted in my garden … same shop … same batch … planted at the same time at the same address BUT 3 grew quickly, large and to maturity and 3 struggled. Why?
They were planted in 2 different sections of the garden … the only difference was the soil … it’s consistency & nutrient levels.
The growth environment is everything.

People are no different.
Some grow rapidly in their Christian walk … some hardly at all.
The difference is in the growth environment they put themselves into & their response to that.

2. WHAT MAKES A GOOD GROWTH ENVIRONMENT?

(i) A growth atmosphere

For a plant: warmth, oxygen levels, humidity
For people: A “safe” place … freedom … love, acceptance & forgiveness … a positive environment (fun) … trust … people believe in you.
What atmosphere are we building here at Nations?
Is it one where people feel safe to grow?
Is it one where people feel safe to try things … to “have a go”?
Is it a safe place to make mistakes and learn from those?
If the atmosphere is good, then other growth conditions will work …

(ii) Sunlight

Plants need adequate sunlight to grow.
People need light from the Son of God to grow.
Only an ongoing, intimate relationship with God will bring about growth.
Prayer, Bible reading, spiritual disciplines, hearing God’s voice, obeying His voice … all bring us to maturity.

(iii) Good soil

Plants need nutrients … the right sort and the right balance.
Luke 8:5, 6, 8 all focus on the quality of the soil.
Bad soil = bad growth.
Are we providing good nutrients here at Nations?
Could we do better to provide great growth conditions?
• Courses to help people grow in the Word of God
• Connect groups to help us grow in relationships and spiritually
• Worship
• Prayer
• Courses to aid personal development (marriage, family, areas of personal healing etc.), prophetic & gifts of the Spirit, leadership & ministry skills development …

But each individual is still responsible for making the most of the conditions.

(iv) Personal choices can help or hinder growth

Luke 8:7, 14 Weeds and thorns will choke the plant … & in the same way … wrong choices and wrong priorities in life will choke our growth as Christians.

To grow we must:
• Make the most of the atmosphere provided.
• Expose ourselves regularly to the “sunlight” of God’s presence.
• Receive the nutrient opportunities we are given (church attendance regular, Connect groups, take courses, be involved in worship, respond to the moving of the Spirit, say “yes” when God speaks etc.
• Remove weeds and thorns from our garden … build good priorities & turn away from ones that will choke us.

CONCLUSION:

Seed is designed to grow.
God’s seed in us has growth DNA built into it.
It is our responsibility to put it into a growth environment:
• A growth atmosphere
• Regular God time
• Good spiritual soil
• Ongoing positive growth choices

THEN growth happens … and with growth comes fruitfulness.
Growing Christians ADVANCE THE KINGDOM!
They can’t help it.