I know this is weird, but I wasn’t a fan of watermelon for the first 30 years of my life. But all of that changed one Saturday morning with a trip downtown to the Lexington Farmer’s Market. We bought a locally grown watermelon from a little mom-and-pop farm, and when we got home I got up the nerve to try it.
The flavor was phenomenal. Over the years the same’s been true for other local fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, especially tomatoes and strawberries. The flavor compared to the packaged variety at the local supermarket wasn’t even a comparison. On top of that, a few years back (before kids made life more complicated) we had a nice little garden in our back yard – with emphasis on little. But that little garden produced some of the best zucchini, yellow squash, and spaghetti squash we’d ever had. And there was lots of it.
There seemed to be a value, both in the garden and the Farmer’s Market, that outpaced simply the food we consumed. Not only did it taste better, it had value in that it came from the soil beneath my feet. And in the case of our garden, we had our hands in the soil ourselves. It wasn’t just what we consumed, it’s what we produced – and what the community around us was producing.
In recent years, these experiences have made me rethink the way I understand the Church. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but I think most of us think of Church in the way we think of our local supermarket. We show up usually once a week, we get what we want to consume, and we go home. In and out. And because of this, Church’s have shaped themselves for our consumption – provide a “better product” and the biggest variety for the most people to consume.
And there’s nothing wrong with a supermarket. There’s not many of us that don’t in some way depend on them at least once a week. But beyond that once a week, I have no relationship with the supermarket. And in fact, if the supermarket down the road started carrying something I like better, I have no qualms about moving my weekly trip there.
But is what we consume the only relationship we are supposed to have with the Church? Surely there’s more to it than that. This got me thinking about my trips to the local Farmer’s Market. I certainly love what I consume from the local farmers, but I also love what it produces in our local economy. And given time and the right environment, I could bring what I produce to offer with the other local farmers. Not only am I consuming, I am producing.
I think we’d do well as a Church to be shaped more like a Farmer’s Market than the local supermarket. Here’s what I mean:
1. God in producing spiritual fruit in and through my life.
I am not solely depending on someone else’s relationship with God to be the spiritual nourishment I need. Not only so, He is producing something uniquely in my life that is different from others in the community. Which leads to…
2. What God is producing in me is valuable and needed in the life of my community.
The beauty of the Church is the spiritual interdependence of the body of Christ, where we experience God in those we share life with. We aren’t lone-ranger Christians simply looking for the next thing to consume. Together, we give and receive the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives.
3. Collectively, what we produce together impacts the city around us.
As a Church, we believe God is producing something in our community that not only is unique to our context, but is valuable to the world around us. We aren’t gathered to simply consume for us, or even produce for us – we are growing and produce the fruit of what God is doing in us for the sake of the world.
An interconnected, interdependent community that exists not just for itself but for the sake of the city around them? That sounds like a Church to me. Is there anything wrong with big supermarkets? Of course not.
But we were made for more than just consumption. We were made to have our hands i the soil, cultivating and growing something beautiful and unique in our lives. We were made for a community whose lives together not only impact one another, but the neighborhood and city around us.
At Restoration, we want to equip you to grow what God longs to produce in your life, connect you to others who you can grow from and with, and empower you together to offer what God in doing in you to the world.