Church growth advocates have followed Donald McGavran’s lead stressing the principle of the harvest. The principle of the harvest serves as a launching pad for planning strategies of church and kingdom growth. In John 4:35, Jesus said, “Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest” The people Jesus spoke to in John 4:35 understood agricultural principles, because they lived them daily. While there were some large cities, most citizens were rural people. The rural Roman citizens knew what it meant to work the soil. In twenty-first century North American culture, food is around the corner at the local grocery store or a click away. Because present day North American culture is so far removed from ancient rural roman cultural, it is important to explain the principle of the harvest.
The most fundamental principle of farming is the principle of the harvest. It brings the vision of the fruit for the labor. Farmers plan a simple, effective strategy of gathering a crop of what has been planted. Jesus was giving a vision when he spoke in John 4:35 to the disciples. Jesus mentioned that in some cases one person sows the seed while another gathers the fruit, but they all rejoice together, because their combined labors have resulted in harvest, see John 4:36-37.
Professional farmers prepare the ground and sow the seed, as a step toward the harvest. They dig out weeds and build fences as protection against predators in order to increase the harvest. All resources, which include time, energy, and money, funnel towards a maximized year from the harvest. Therefore, if the end is the maximum yield of the harvest, the means to achieve it must be constantly reviewed and adjusted. The harvest principle demands that we are constantly evaluating and adjusting to move from what is good to what is best. We must continue to assess and adjust our outreach methods to reach the largest harvest yield for the kingdom! The methods we use may change, but our message and principles do not.