Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Environment, Faith & Religion

Agrarian imagery at work

On Thursday I posed a question in my seminar about whether the agrarian imagery we’re familiar with from the biblical material translates into theological resources and theological imagination for engaging with techno-culture. Then today over at Science & Theology News : Pastors in the pasture grow organic congregations there’s an interview with Jeffrey Hawkins of HOPE CSA who uses a real agrarian approach for pastoring pastors in their vocation in the contemporary world.

This way of farming offers a model for how churches should approach growth, Hawkins said. In 2003, he began bringing pastors to work on his farm through his ministry, HOPE CSA, which stands for Hands-On Pastoral Education using Clergy-Sustaining Agriculture. Pastors from several denominations and churches around the state visit once every month to work on the farm and participate in discussions with Hawkins and fellow pastors.Hawkins makes many parallels between factory farms and mega churches, and between sustainable farming — which doesn’t deplete natural resources or pollute the environment — and healthy churches.

“I don’t want to demonize church growth and factory farms,” Hawkins said. “I want to help us be honest about the consequences of choosing those models.”

Sounds like interesting project – I wonder if there are any others like it around?


  1. When I read the article it reminded me of the ‘agricultural revolution’ in the British Church Growth movement a short few years back. Based on the work of Christian Schwarz (I think) in Natural Church Development they went over to an organic metophor from the mechanistic and focused on church health rather than numerical growth …
    I wondered whether the factory farm is based on the beaurocratic metaphors of the old church growth movement.

  2. Tim

    As one who is not a fan of Megachurches I should perhaps not say this, but it reminded me of another revolution, the cultural revolution in Maoist China (or it’s equivalent in Cambodia)… Rather than pastors from “round the state” visiting a rural farm, why not have a shared vegie patch in the city, and pastors from round the city could share in growing the produce… (Use less petrol/gas, and reduce the idolisation of another way of life.)

  3. Similar to that, the church we used to go to in Hamilton (before we moved to Auckland) had some vegetable gardens for a while out on various member’s farms. House groups etc. would go out and assist the weeding etc. and the food grown went into the church’s food bank. Intentional labour for a cause and also grew the participants – different from simply dropping a few cans in the basket on the way into church on Sunday.

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