The “soil” of the American Church

Stanley Hauerwas offers some challenging words in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) in the Brazos Theological Commentary on Matthew.

It is hard to be a disciple and be rich. Surely, we may think, it cannot be that simple, but Jesus certainly seems to think that it is that simple. The lure of wealth and the cares of the world produced by wealth quite simply darken and choke our imaginations. As a result, the church falls prey to the deepest enemy of the gospel—sentimentality. The gospel becomes a formula for “giving our lives meaning” without judgment.

Hauerwas, S. (2006). Matthew (p. 129). Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

This is the challenge I was thinking of earlier. Abundance is tough in discipleship. Hauerwas doesn’t let the American Church off the hook.

The church in America simply is not a soil capable of growing deep roots.

Hauerwas, S. (2006). Matthew (p. 130). Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.


What a challenge. It’s too broad a statement… but I can’t dismiss it. When we survey American Christianity, and how soft we are… it’s also easy to simply agree with Hauerwas.

But this is why I do what I do. I believe as a pastor I can lead my church, and hopefully future churches we plant, into a depth that is needed. What is needed is a desperation in spite of our wealth. And, when called to surrender our privilege… we do it. THIS is what we’re unwilling to do. We are so American, we just aren’t ready to “lose”. This is the tough lesson that is ahead… and one we really need to learn in a hurry.

Friends, we need our hearts plowed up. The plowing is up to us. In a tough environment of prosperity, we need to learn surrender. When we keep refusing to learn, the radical changes in our current culture will force those changes. What I want is a church prepared so we don’t whine as much as the rest of the American church when it finally happens.

Prepare our hearts, O Lord!

plow field

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