“He told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed…” (Matthew 13) Never has the parable of the sower felt so poignant. During the height of the restrictions, it felt like we couldn’t sow the seed of the word of God as a church. How can you hope for a harvest when you can’t sow the seed?

It turned out there is always a way to sow the seed of God’s word! We adapted. Like many, we started to sow God’s word through social media. Our church has grown during the pandemic through new believers finding community and faith.

We met one guy in his 30s in an online Bible study. As his faith grew he decided to get baptised, which we did in a very cold Manchester lake at the height of the winter lockdown.

Our hope has grown as we’ve sown online.

I have never been excited about online evangelism. I find social media too image-based, a massive distraction at best and toxic to our mental health at worst. However, I now recognise this is simply where many live out huge amounts of their life. Of course God is not separated from the online space so to participate in Christ’s ministry some of us will need to turn up as missionaries online.

My wife had a word a few years ago when we’re praying about planting the church. What she heard next as she listened to God was new for her. She felt the Spirit whisper eight digits to her. She punched in the number into Google on the off-chance it might make sense in the online world. What popped out was incredible. It was the order number for a plaque with the words: Be my love.”

Our house churches are our attempt to respond to God’s Spirit, to be my love.” They are places of incarnating the love of God in local mission, discipleship and hospitality. Recently we’ve welcomed immigrants from Hong Kong, local unchurched Manchester families and university students into our home.

Our house churches are not to be romanticised – they can be messy. Adults are not the only ones who have tantrums about what church should look like, children do as well! But we have sowed the gospel into our children’s lives, knowing as adults we’re not meant to hoard the seed to ourselves but allow them to participate in the word of God.

Recently I’ve been invited to teach a few lessons on the Christian faith in a local school where over 80 per cent of the children are Muslim. No minister in living memory has been invited there.

Our hope for the next generation has grown as we’ve sown.

Our Alpha course started among students following our campus evangelism. We hosted the course in a house with one seeker from an unchurched background profoundly encountering God’s peace. He couldn’t speak for 20 minutes as he was filled with the Spirit and overcome with God’s delight in him.

Years ago I had a dream where I went into my back garden. It was like a jungle, totally overgrown, so I started chopping through it with a machete. As it opened up I saw an incredible sight. A small pond teeming with life. Fish were bustling around in this small pond. Then I heard the Spirit say: the harvest is in your back garden.”

Whether we reap or another does, there is a harvest right underneath our nose, in the places we’re present – in our neighbourhoods, workplaces and certainly online.

Our hope is assured when we know the seed sown in Jesus Christ transcends any of our efforts. God is at work whether we sow or reap, it’s all grace, but thank God we are invited to participate in the transformation of lives.

A student who came to our Alpha course couldn’t speak for 20 minutes as he was filled with the Spirit and overcome with God’s delight in him.

Stories of Hope 2: Explore the series

This article is part of a six-part series of stories of hope. Click through to more stories in the series below, where Christians share how God has called them to show His love:

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