Archive: Mustard Seed Evangelism

By Rob Frost
January/February 2000
Good News

A new era has dawned, and a new landscape is emerging, and new challenges face us on every side. The great news about Jesus has shaped world history for 2,000 years, and we must find new ways of presenting it in the new millennium.

The task of evangelism can sometimes feel pretty daunting. Small congregations can be overwhelmed by the task, ill-equipped for outreach, and outnumbered a thousand-to-one by those who have no interest in the Christian faith.

In each mustard seed of the gospel, however, there is incalculable growth potential, and its prospects far exceed our capacity to understand how it happens. Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows it is the largest of garden planes” (Matthew 13:31-32).

One summer I went to help my friend bring in the harvest on his Yorkshire farm. I had no idea what harvesting would be like, and as I learned how to drive the tractor, throw bales of straw into the barn, and unclog the bailer, I began to realize just how stressful farming can be!

Each night my friend Richard and I would stagger back to the farmhouse covered in sweat and grime, but with a glow of satisfaction that all was safely gathered in.

One day we had to take a trailer full of oil seed rape from the combine harvester in the field to the large storage silo in the farmyard. I rode through the village on the back of this trailer piled high with shifting seed. As we sped through the village, I held on to the swaying trailer but gradually began to sink lower and lower into the cargo until my Wellington boots and trousers were so full with the oily black seed that I couldn’t move. It was not a pleasant experience!

When we arrived at the farmyard my friend lowered a large black suction pipe into the trailer and watched as the seed was sucked up into the silo. He sighed, “This stuff is amazing … we sow it in pounds and reap it in tons!”

Eventually I was released! And as I watched the crop gradually disappearing into the silo, I remembered the parable of the mustard seed and for the first time understood the full force of its meaning.

The parable of the mustard seed really came alive for me, however, a few years ago when I visited

, along the coast of southwest England. Every year, thousands of Christians from around the world visit this large amphitheater situated miles away from anything! It’s the site where John Wesley preached to the Cornish tin miners in the open air, and where hundreds of them found Jesus Christ as Savior. It was the spark that lit the eighteenth century revival!

When I visited the site a few years ago, there were hundreds of young Methodists from all over the world sitting in the amphitheater. As I gazed around at that great crowd, I was overwhelmed by the thought that the preaching of John Wesley 200 years ago could result in a worldwide denomination that currently has a membership of over 60 million people!

It was a powerful demonstration that the growth potential in any seed of the gospel is greater than even that of a mustard seed! Our approach to evangelism, therefore, is different from that of a sales force for a new product, or an advertising agency selling a new brand!

Sadly, in many towns and cities God’s tool for evangelism, the local church, has become a blunt instrument. Congregations don’t recognize the crucial importance of an ongoing evangelistic ministry, and too often follow an agenda that is more about servicing the flock rather than searching for lost sheep.

I am encouraged that some local churches are waking up to their evangelistic task and are discovering the vital role that they can play in the re-evangelization of their area. The local church is the God-ordained unit for mission and it’s time that each fellowship began to develop a sense of responsibility for evangelism.

The motivation shouldn’t be to “get extra members” but to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel. In a highly secularized society such as ours, local church mission must be about bridging the gap between church and community, about building real relationships with the local people, and about sharing our faith with people where they are. It’s about taking the church out into the world.

The Christian faith is a faith to give away. The Scriptures are constantly encouraging us to share our faith in Christ with others. The most important motivation for evangelism is the love of God, and it’s not to be shared in a pushy way but in a style that demonstrates God’s love.

The most effective team for witness and follow-up in a community is a group of local Christians who live their lives as though they are always “on mission” for the Lord. The most effective place for the nurture and care of new Christians is the local church.

This is the time to awaken the sleeping giant! To mobilize the tens of thousands of dormant Christians in our churches, and to see the vision of a lost world and the mind-blowing power in each seed of the Christian gospel.

All four gospels end with Jesus Christ giving his disciples the charge to evangelize. The best known reference comes from Matthew where Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations … And surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).

A new millennium. A new opportunity. Let’s get the job done!

At the time of this article’s publication, Rob Frost was the national evangelist of the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom and host of Premier Radio’s Sunday Breakfast Show in London. He was the co-author, with David Wilkinson, of A New Start! Hopes and Dreams for the new Millennium (Hodder & Stoughton). Dr. Frost (1950-2007) was also the founder of Easter People, a week long worship and teaching event attended by thousands. We considered him a beloved friend. Photo: Gwennap Pit in Cornwall, England. 


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