I love this insight from Elton Trueblood about how an organic church grows:
“Those who observe the desert are well aware of the way in which the relatively inconspicuous oasis begins to conquer the wasteland, A single blade of grass, alone in the desert, would be sure to wither and die, while seed sown indiscriminately would almost certainly be wasted, but the little oasis often wins by growing at its edges. This it does by making its own soil as it slowly advances, the life of the growing edge being sustained by the background support of the other life immediately behind it.” (Elton Trueblood. “The Home as a Foretaste of the Kingdom.” The Yoke of Christ and Other Sermons. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958, pp. 191-92.)
An oasis is a fitting metaphor for the life of God’s kingdom. It is a place of refreshment and vitality surrounded by drought and lifelessness. At its best, the church is such an oasis. An oasis doesn’t grow quickly. To do so would be to spread its vitality out too far to sustain.
I also appreciate an oasis as an organic metaphor. Healthy living things tend to grow slowly. This is truer the longer its lifespan. You don’t measure the growth of a tree in weeks or months, but in years and decades. If the kingdom of God grows organically, what pace of growth do we expect? How long do we hope to see such growth last? Even those seasons when the church has exploded, such growth has only lasted when it had deep, deep roots of sustained prayer and vital community. Too many explosions of growth have dissipated nearly as quickly.
We must not expand faster than the oasis can sustain. It is also important that the edge of our communities continue in vital abiding community together with Christ. May your life become an oasis place for others.