When we first set out planting Love Chapel Hill, one of our key theological influences was Wendell Berry. No, he is not a pastor. But he is a poet and a farmer. He is a deep well of wisdom on the subject of sowing, planting, and harvesting. So we leaned in to what he had to teach us. After all, when Jesus unveiled his vision of a flourishing Kingdom, he repeatedly employed the farming imagery of sowers and seeds, fields and harvest. Are you with me, Seedbed?
We were particularly impacted by his insights on the difference between a path and a road. It’s found in an essay titled ‘A Native Hill’ in a collection called, The Art of the Commonplace. His wisdom sparked this micro reflection, applied to our calling of incarnational church planting.
The purpose of the road is efficiency.
It is essentially a bridge designed to move you from one place to the next with the most ease possible. All obstacles have been removed in its construction. It plows through and paves over and sidesteps the process. Flat and convenient to navigate, avoiding contact with the landscape.
But a path is different.
It is designed to move with the contours of the landscape. When a path encounters an obstacle, it does not remove it. It moves around it. Its purpose and format is not efficiency, but journey. It does not sidestep the process, it embraces it. The path is slow and requires the toll of patience, and often requires assistance in navigation.
This is not a question of whether or not we need roads. Trust me, I want roads.
This is simply to say that a road is one thing and a path is another.
And an incarnational planting of the
Gospel in new soil is a path.
Move with the landscape.
Embrace the process.
Be ok with slow.