Saturday, July 10, 2010

#86 Agricultural Imagery

Ever since the parable of the sower, agricultural metaphors are all the rage in white Christendom. Any mention of farming hearkens back to a simpler- and therefore more Christian- time.

This yearning for agricultural imagery is especially fascinating since the vast majority of white Christians are at least 2 or 3 generations removed from any relatives having earned a living off of the land. This imaginary nostalgia surfaces in a wide range of ways for white Christians:

Farm-themed Vacation Bible school
Training up your covenant kids in week-long, farm-themed Vacation Bible school will have them bringing in the sheaves like gangbusters. Without actual farming experience most white Christians children can only imagine what planting something is like. In order to remedy this experience gap in the modern-day white Christian upbringing, a common VBS lesson includes planting actual seeds in leftover styrofoam cups that weren't used up during post-worship refreshments. While the harvest from this plant won't produce a significant yield, white Christians strongly link farming (no matter how minute) to character-building, so this styro-farm is valued as a vital rite of passage

Church Planters
Where entrepreneur meets evangelism, you'll find church planters. Amidst this faith franchise, established congregations seek to expand their ministry by allowing a motivated pastor to take his show on the road. Merging efforts with growing home church conglomerates or worshiping in rented movie theaters is standard issue. Like a rogue wolf, the church planter typically operates completely independently of the church who supports him. Despite paying his salary, the church typically has absolutely no accountability over what he does.

Many churches literally brand themselves with agricultural names such as Plentiful Harvest Bible Church. The vast majority of these churches are Non-denominational, though a few Presbyterian or Baptist harvest churches might fly in under the radar. Regardless of church structure or affiliation, it is an absolute pre-requisite to heavily incorporate wheat or grain into the church logo. For congregants of these churches, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few," doubles as both a marine-like mantra and an back-door excuse if the congregation numbers starts to decline.


Anonymous said...

I find that church planters often use reproductive language. For example: First Reformed gave birth to Second Reformed. I would much rather hear church planters talk agriculture than about the "painful labors" of creating new churches.

Paul Wilkinson said...

And don't forget water imagery; or maybe it should be in a class by itself. Very big in some denoms, especially Vineyard, who have a thing for rivers.