The Greenhouse

Below are my notes for Pt. 4 of Spiritual Greenhouse Theology, “The Greenhouse.”

Today is Pt. 4 of our series Spiritual Greenhouse Theology, and we’re talking about “The Greenhouse” today. So far in the series we’ve talked about…

Spiritual Biology- “Life reproduces life after its kind”, God expects multiplication, and only a disciple can make a disciple!  Seed of Life- The “big secret”- Jesus is in you: his convictions, character, and cause, and he needs to be the dominant factor!  Spiritual Germination- You can’t make Jesus more Jesus, but you can make you less you: you need a receptive mind and heart every day, the water of the Word of God to tap into daily for a strong spiritual root system, the surrender and sacrifice of your will, to follow what Jesus wants, and to breath in his presence

But ideally, we all need parents, other people, and places that can create the environment where spiritual development (Jn. 3:30 “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less”- this is the definition of spiritual development!) is happening in an ongoing context! That’s where the idea of a spiritual greenhouse comes in! As you saw in the video, the purpose of a greenhouse is very clear.

Big Idea: A Greenhouse specializes in plant development. You need a Spiritual Greenhouse that specializes in your ongoing spiritual development- people and places that are committed to your optimum spiritual maturity!

Note Eph. 4:11-16 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

To me, Paul is talking about God’s process for optimum spiritual development! He’s saying, the church is set up to produce spiritually, to mature, to multiply, to fulfill Jesus’ mission to make disciples of all nations. Yet, regrettably, it’s not the pattern we follow and I’ve laid out that argument convincingly!  If spiritual development and maturity in Christ is best understood by “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less” (Jn. 3:30), the “spiritual germination” dynamic we discussed last week, then what or how is that going to most effectively and efficiently happen??  Again, back to Eph. 4:11-16. We need a spiritual greenhouse that is all about creating the right condition for optimum spiritual development! And actually, Paul gives us three types of “spiritual greenhouses” that need to co-exist in our lives.

Spiritually Mature Parents: Who is imparting into your life spiritually?

Eph. 4:11-12 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Without going into detail on each of these 5-leadership “gifts” it’s important to note for our purposes that one of their primary functions is to equip followers of Jesus to fulfill Jesus’ mission! This is a spiritual greenhouse experience!  “Equipping” is not what we think it is! To dig a ditch I’ll give you a shovel. Yes, that is a form of equipping; but Paul uses a word that goes far deeper than this. Paul uses the word katartizo, which means to mend a net, refit a ship, or set a bone. All of these have the intention of “preparing and adjusting” for ultimate purpose!

In other words, God has put some leaders or a leader in your life, who through impartation- speaking into your life, etc., is preparing/adjusting/mentoring you so you can live out God’s ultimate purpose for your life- and in doing so, you are contributing to the ultimate cause of “doing his work and building his church!”  Not everyone or just anyone can fill this role in your life! This is specifically about a spiritual parenting/mentoring relationship! Who is imparting into your life spiritually to point out and help you make the preparations and adjustments necessary for you to be who God created you to be?? Who is creating and cultivating these conditions for optimum spiritual development in your life- Jesus becoming greater and greater and you becoming less and less??

The spiritual parent/mentor/coach relationship- God giving you a leader to follow, who is “equipping” you is one dynamic or dimension of a spiritual greenhouse environment! Remember, before you are a leader you are a follower and as you lead others you are still a follower! Don’t just run with someone you can run laps around… run after someone who’s hard to keep up with! When Paul told those he was equipping, “Follow me as I follow Christ”, they had to put in some effort to do so!

And as a word of wisdom: Follow also Paul’s advice in Titus 2 where he discusses his father-son relationship with Titus and how he is equipping Titus in how to equip others- The model is “older men training younger men” and “older women training younger women” etc. Older not merely in years, but in terms of spiritual maturity!

The question is: Who are you following that serves as a spiritual mentor in your life that is preparing and adjusting your life for ultimate purpose? God has “gifted” you with such a person!

Spiritually Mature People: Who are the people most influencing your life, especially spiritually?

Eph. 4:13-15 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

A second dynamic of a spiritual greenhouse environment/experience is the smaller group of core people you associate with- this group, for good or bad, majorly affects your behavior. They influence you far more than you realize! Do they help you to be more or less mature? Are you all over the map spiritually or are you solid in your beliefs and convictions? Can you be easily tricked or do you know truth?

Who is your tribe? Who is the group of people that are most influencing your life? More importantly, who are the people influencing your life spiritually? As critical as it is to “follow someone” whose life is credible when it comes to spiritual maturity, it is also essential that you are in a tribe/group of people who are behaviorally influencing your life for optimum spiritual development- Jesus greater… you less and less…

There were 12 tribes that comprised the nation of Israel (12 sons of Jacob). Without getting into all of it, you need to know that all 12 of those tribes had influence in one way or another. For example, the tribe of Levi, the Levites, were all about being priests, leading people into the presence of the Lord, etc. But they didn’t always do that because of bad leadership! The tribe of Judah was all about leadership, kingship, and victory, etc. All of these tribes were meant to have a positive influence in a special way for the nation of Israel. Often times they didn’t, but it didn’t change what they were to ultimately represent, etc.

What tribe influences you? Better yet, what tribe do you need to be a part of? You need a tribe, a Life Group to belong to that creates an environment conducive to optimum spiritual development in your life! Today you get to choose a tribe and you need to make sure you do, because we’ve trained our leadership to ensure our life groups are spiritual greenhouses for optimum spiritual development- where the influence of the tribe/group promotes right behavior…

You need the “right” people, not the “wrong” people in your life if you want it to be fulfilled. God puts you relationally with the right people who will fill up your life. We just need to be able to identify those people! Be careful about who is influencing your life spiritually!  If you’re a young couple just married for a few years and you’re dealing with some tension, don’t ask your peers what to do- seek out a couple with some mileage in their marriage, who have stayed the course… maybe you need that tribe, a marriage enrichment or development life group! You get to choose the people who will most influence your life…

I personally don’t want to hang out with a group of people who is not contributing to and influencing my life for optimum spiritual development! I’m not talking about my mission field! I want a group of people who will challenge me let Jesus be greater and greater and me less and less!  Paul says you need people who will help you mature in the Lord, who will help you measure up, who won’t let you be tossed all over the place by spiritual stupidity or deception, who will speak the truth in love, who will help you to grow in every way more and more like Christ!

So the question is: Who are the group of people, the tribe, the life group you’re a part of, that will best influence you for optimum spiritual development? Those people, that group, is in this room right now, because God makes sure that his church is put together that way!  We want our life groups to be a very positive spiritual and behavioral influence in your life that is the primary spiritual greenhouse environment where you can spiritual develop and mature as a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ!

Spiritually Mature “Places”: Where will your life be impacted or impact most of all spiritually?

Eph. 4:16 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

For the purpose of a spiritual greenhouse environment/experience, you have leaders you can follow (imparting/preparing/adjusting), you have people, a tribe you belong to (influencing behaviorally), and you have a church family where your life is impacted spiritually…

Paul says, in the end, the “body”- the Church, is fitted and formed so that every part of it is healthy, growing, and all about ultimate spiritual impact- you are being impacted spiritually and together we are spiritually impacting our world for Christ!

The church must be a spiritual greenhouse itself, it’s leaders, it’s people, must very deliberately and intentionally create and cultivate the right conditions- leadership that is about spiritual parenting, development of leaders, equipping/training, preparing/adjusting; life groups that are all about right spiritual and behavioral influence, maturing in the Lord, measuring up to Jesus, not to a religious tradition, etc. We have a profound responsibility to ensure that the right conditions are always present for optimum spiritual development and the multiplication of disciples!

I’ll detail those “conditions” more in Part 5 next week… Frank, the owner of Center Greenhouse, knows something about what it takes to be successful in the greenhouse business. He knows that the purpose of a greenhouse is to develop seedlings and cuttings into plants that ultimately are destined to thrive beyond the greenhouse! He knows that if those plants aren’t developed correctly and then leave the greenhouse, he’ll soon be out of business! Frank is actually expanding- he’s about to build 2 more greenhouses on his property because business is so good!

Could it be that the church in America is going out of business because we’re no longer developing people to be followers of Jesus, on mission for Jesus in the greater cultural environment? Could it be that we no longer have room for new seedlings, or new groups, or new leaders, or the expansion of the “greenhouses” because we’ve now become caretakers of the saints instead of cultivators of the “seedlings”?? Have we forgotten that we come together here for spiritual impartation and influence so we can have the greatest spiritual impact “there!”

Although the church is a “place”- I put that in quotations for a reason, and it is a place where “ministry” happens, where we are impacted spiritually, it is not the “place” where spiritual impact is most realized! Contrary to what the spiritually hyper would promote, the culture and the chaos of it, is the place we can, must, and will have the greatest spiritual impact! We are meant for more than mere church ministry- we were meant to bring beauty, stability, and real sustenance to our world!

The church, as a greenhouse, is both and coming in and going out place! We gather for the impartation and influence, to be prepared and adjusted, to be “staged” and “hardened” for going into our everyday world and causing spiritual impact! (Note the NT Church- Acts 11 “some believers…”).

KEY: Flowers are developed in a greenhouse so they can beautify the landscape beyond it. Grasses, shrubs, other plants, are developed in the greenhouse so they can bring stability to eroding soils beyond it! Fruit trees are developed in the greenhouse so they can become orchards producing much fruit beyond it!

We need to understand spiritual impact in terms of both “here” and “there!” Yes, the church is a “spiritual greenhouse”- and as such, it’s ultimate purpose is to impact your life spiritually in such a way that we are “sent ones” who are spiritually impacting the mission field God has called us into! I’m not at all suggesting we discontinue coming together regularly once we reach a certain point of “spiritual maturity!” That’s not even biblical! However, I am saying that new seedlings can’t come in unless we go out and produce them, bring them in so we can develop them and then send them out to reproduce…

If we understand this, that the church is a spiritual greenhouse, that my life group is a spiritual greenhouse, that a mentoring relationship is a spiritual greenhouse, then we all have a profound responsibility to live this out very intentionally. We all must understand that success can only be measured in terms of the disciples we are making!

GCC is where your life can be spiritually impacted. Where are you spiritually impacting people for Christ?

(c) 2011, Terry Broadwater. To enjoy a free subscription to this blog, log-on to http://www.terrybroadwater.com, where you can post comments of this blog, view past blogs in the archive, and check out more resources. Use of the above information in this blog for purposes beyond personal application is by permission only. Also, other supportive resources may be available. Please subscribe to the blog and indicate your intentions via the comments section. Thank you!

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