Once upon a time there was a cattle farmer. He had the biggest, most beautiful cows to be found anywhere. The problem was he only had five. He had wanted to grow his herd but he didn’t have any money to waste on buying cows. One day while thinking, he came up with the perfect idea: Breed the cows. He could place them in a confined area and naturally they would breed. He would multiply his herd and not have to make any investment. The idea was perfect.
He put his herd in a small pasture and waited. Months passed and nothing happened. So he moved the animals to a corral. A few more months passed and still no promise of increase. Finally he cordoned off the cattle in the barn. He had no smaller locale for them. There they stayed for nearly a year with no success.
Finally the farmer called the veterinarian to come and do check-ups on the cows. The vet arrived and asked the farmer “What seems to be the problem?”
The farmer answered “I want to increase my headcount but I don’t want to spend any money on more cows. I been puttin’ dem cows together in a small enclosure for two years now. Not a single one has gotten pregnant or given birth,” lamented the farmer
“Where are they now?” asked the vet
The farmer pointed, “In the barn.”
The vet went inside and looked around as the farmer waited patiently outside. After several minutes, the vet returned.
“I found your problem,” he exclaimed. “Your barn’s full of bull. You ain’t never gonna have any new ones with ‘em all bein’ the same. You need to get out there and find some more cows, preferably females.”
In this parable, the farmer is a pastor. He is doing his best to feed and care for the cows. The cows in the story are the members of the farmer-pastor’s church. The farmer has done a good job in that the cows are healthy and beautiful. But they aren’t multiplying. In a few years he will be out of business. The barn in this story is, of course, a church.
This pastor is like many pastors, he wants his herd to grow. The first problem is that there is no room for growth if all the cows are bulls. If we’re all the same we will never confront a differing opinion. We will never have to defend our faith from questions. We will never truly firm the foundation on which we stand.
The second problem is the herd is confined to the barn. They can’t go looking for other cows tucked away in the safety of the barn. If we stay locked away in our own little subculture we will never make the impact Christ wanted for us. The world is out there waiting for someone to come and point the way to HIM, someone to come and love them like He does.
Without the influx of new life in our spiritual gene pool, we face our eminent death. For without an heir to pass our treasure to there is only an end. Once we become satisfied to wait in our barn for new cows to come, open the doors, and ask to be a part of our herd, we have doomed spiritual reproduction, effectively killing the cause of Christ. Comfortable within the confines of our habitat we are made impotent in our bid to share God’s love.
God called us out of the barn and into the world, to “every creature”. How will we respond to that call?
In Mark 16:20 “…they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”
They got out there and invested themselves in others through missional living. They avoided the spiritual stagnation with a constant flow of service out and new members in. For that they were confirmed by God.
I guess the only question is…
Is your barn full of bull?