Jesus describes how the kingdom of God works. His purpose is to address the capacity of people to produce the “what Father wants” from invested seed.
We should plan for success but expect to deal with failure. According to Jesus, comparing His perspective of “How Things Really Work in the Spirit” with modern American church-anity, we normalizing failure and diminish or ignore God’s definition of “success.”
We do so little to prepare the soil because we do not even measure success by the harvest results by which God measures success. We do not measure the kingdom of God results by kingdom culture principles. We measure subcultural church-anity results on the basis for church-growthism.
Success and Failure
The conditions for success and failure occur in every situation.
Notice that Jesus speaks of four kinds of soil that receive the seed, and three of them fail. Only one produces a harvest.
Jesus is not offering a negative perspective of reality, but the Creator knows better than anyone that the world is messed up. There is something wrong with Creation. The Redeemer is pointing to the availability of failure and success in the same field, and the “way things work in the spirit.”
“Such is the kingdom of God.”
We sow to reap the harvest. We sow imperfectly. We receive only where the conditions are right to produce what the sowing intends. The seed is not enough. The seed can fail to produce a harvest. The harvest is the goal, not the planting of the seed.
Planning for Success
To plan for success involves interaction with the soil as well as planting the seed.
Great revivals occur where kingdom leaders prepare the soil. Soil preparation directly affects the result. Kingdom preaching is not about throwing seed at the ground. It is also about confronting the existing spiritual conditions that include the capacity for the hearts of men to produce kingdom culture and lifestyles.
There is more to being saved than having your sins forgiven.
The plan for success includes a strategy for the harvest. It provides recognition of the result that planting anticipates. Throwing seed around is not kingdom normal. No success is measurable until we understand the purpose of the result. Success is not success at all if not measurable.
Just forget the idea that you know God’s strategy if you run about throwing seed around. Jesus is pointing to success as people producing what God wants, what the seed anticipates, and what is typical for kingdom culture.
In other words, we measure success with criteria greater than the numbers of people making confessions of faith, or attending events, or identifying with the seed. We measure success by the discipled soils that have a capacity for sustainable kingdom harvests.
We are a hundredfold better at throwing seed and getting confessions than we are at discipling converts. We are expert at events while fumbling fools at fathering.
Better to have fifty disciples than fifty thousand event attendees. Fifty thousand authentic disciples would change any region. So, we can determine how well we are doing the kingdom of God by how many areas we see transformed. So far, we are better at events than we are at kingdom culture.
A recent mass rally with big names and entertainment rock star gurus drew a large crowd. When it came time to measure how many people were interested in the purpose of the massive event, it was the same amount that would have been produced by having intense discipling initiatives without flying in the Ken and Barbie figurehead leaders.
We ignore the methods of Jesus at the expense of the kingdom of God. He could feed thousands if they showed up and showed enough interest to remain for hours. He was not interested in offering free fish sandwiches to an entitled multitude to gain Messianic favor. We are.
Kingdom Culture Success
Think about His understanding of how the kingdom of God works for a moment.
We are more than willing to offer the multitude what it wants to fill events with attendees. Jesus wouldn’t waste His time doing something could never produce His Father’s purposes. He discipled the very people no one thought were worthy of the stage!
Jesus didn’t recruit Ken and Barbie. He called the people His Father told Him to disciple, and everyone was shocked that His group included fishers from Galilee, a John Birch Society dropout, a dishonest IRS agent, and two sons of thunder.
Paul says the same thing about Ecclesiae leaders in his apostolic assignments. Paul looks for authentic discipling. If people are unwilling to submit to that, Paul moves on to those who are.
Consider that you might be misapplying the verses about love if you are prioritizing community instead of culture. You may include a group in your community that represents Jesus some people so poorly saved that they represent the devil.
Plan for failure as you plan for success. If you do not, you may expend most of God’s provided seed for the three soils that cannot produce the harvest He wants.
In general, when we ask modern church-anity to display the successful harvest, we nearly always end up looking at the three soils that produce nothing Father wants from the seed provided.