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PLANTING NEW CHURCHES
Growing an Orchard
by Jamie Shope
in the DESERT
OR THE PAST two years, I have have $2 million or $3 million homes, and background, socioeconomic status, or
F
been a bivocational church I have worked with a single-parent ethnic group, needs to be properly plant-
planter in one of America’s great- dwelling of 900 square feet. It hit me one ed, rooted, and grounded in the truth of
est mission fields, Salt Lake City, day that no matter the price tag of the Jesus Christ.
Utah. Aside from being a husband, a home, all the landscaping plants need In July 2006, with the partnership of
father of four wonderful kids, and a pas- proper care, adequate hydration, and reg- Westmore Church of God in Cleveland,
tor of a small fellowship, I have been ular fertilization. Tennessee, I moved my family 1,800
working in sales and marketing with a As a church planter in one of the miles away to begin “digging out” the
landscaping company here in the valley. I greatest mission fields in the country, I foundations for a new church plant, The
represent the company in residential and see the spiritual connection between Orchard Church. When I was a kid, it was
commercial maintenance for lawns, trees, growing a tree and God growing the fascinating for me to visit my grandfather
and shrubs. I have learned a great deal heart of a person. Psalm 1:3 says, “He is and grandmother (Papa and Gran Gran
about the proper irrigation practices for like a tree planted by streams of water, Tucker) in central Florida, where Papa had
lawns and the need for fertilization injec- which yields its fruit in season and whose an orchard in his backyard. Early on I saw
tions for many plants and trees. I have leaf does not wither. Whatever he does the investment of time and the value of
contracted services with customers who prospers.”* Every person, no matter his being a caretaker of the orchard. So, com-
ing full circle, here I am being a caretaker
of other people’s landscapes, lawns, and
trees; more important, I am a “spiritual
caretaker” of some precious souls that
God has entrusted to my care.
The Orchard Church plant is a Christ-
following, family-integrated, missional
church in the heart of the high desert ter-
rain of the Wasatch Mountains. Basically
that means we greatly value reaching and
growing the family (mom and dad, sin-
gle-parent mom/dad, and/or grandpar-
ents) with strong, foundational biblical
teaching that will have a multigenera-
tional impact for the Kingdom. In my
mind, I see it as growing a family tree
from the roots up and realizing the expo-
nential value of children who grow up
following Christ: those children get mar-
ried and follow Christ, and those children
grow up and follow Christ . . . you get
the picture.
We value the family as the “central
engine” for evangelism and discipleship
in the world today. There is nothing as
14 EVANGEL • APR 2009
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