An orchard is a pastoral vision of church, and speaks of being rooted in health and strength in one location, for local fruit. Every church needs to be asking how to be healthy, sturdy and fruitful in the place where it is planted. Wherever we are, we need to be fully there, loving the people and serving the place, deeply rooted to bear much fruit. A healthy orchard requires strong trees (people) with substance and permanence.
A nursery is a more apostolic vision of a church; a vision for multiplication. It sees the role of the church as a seed bed for saplings that are going to be sent out and planted elsewhere. It's about preparing and training for future fruitfulness. It's a picture of flexibility and transience. A church cannot only be a nursery. But without a nursery, a church becomes myopic and enamored with itself. It eventually withers and dies.
Leaders should be able to hold an Orchard and Nursery vision of the church in tension.
Southlands has a rich history of being a nursery, having sent out many people and leaders, and planted 12 churches in the last 15 years. After a few years hiatus tending to our Orchard, our Fullerton multi-site has been a welcome return to a Nursery vision. It has been costly, but so healthy to lean into mission like this. And satisfying. God has given us helped and blessed us powerfully! While this year is primarily about ensuring the health of the Brea, God has impressed on us, by His Word, His Spirit, and His people, that we are not to return to business as usual in the orchard.
An Orchard/Nursery vision is our new normal.
Jesus' words from Acts 1:8 echo in our ears and in our souls. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth," How do we send out saplings to bear witness to Jesus beyond our Jerusalem?
Our vision, then, is to plant 3 saplings out of our nursery in 3 years.
1 x mult-site community in another city in Orange county (Judea)
1 x autonomous church plant outside Orange County, even out of state but within USA(Samaria)
1 x community among an unreached/world A people group (Uttermost)
We may well partner with other churches for the second and third aspects of this 3 in 3 vision,
but we're beginning to intentionally plan, pray and prepare for this vision.
We can only achieve this vision in the power of the Spirit and with the help of your partnership.
I would ask you to consider 4 practical responses towards this vision.
1. Be praying with us for wisdom and clarity in terms of when and where we plant.
2. Be rooted in your local church for local fruit. It's the fruitful trees that are generally transplanted.
3. Be trained for future planting through our Porterbrook Network training school.
4. Be generous by giving to our First Fruits fund which will go solely towards 3 in 3.
Together for Gospel advance,