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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Rewiring the Parables | ‘Chucking It About’

‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.’

Luke 8:5–8



I love this parable!

In my reimagining of the parable, I like to think of it as ‘The Reluctant Advertiser’.

I’m an adman who learned his trade during the golden years of advertising in the 70s and 80s, building big brands using mass-audience TV and print media. Campaigns cost a lot, but the return on investment from those that bought the brand was huge. And the ads also sowed the seeds of awareness amongst those not yet ready to buy, but who might in the future.

The parable features three words beginning with S: the sower, the seed, and the soil. The latter two generally attract the most attention. But today let’s focus on the sower.

At first glance he seems a pretty careless chap, doesn’t he? Seed was a precious commodity in those days. A good yield was critical to a good harvest, a good harvest critical to a good life. The key was good seed, carefully sown into well prepared soil. And yet here’s this guy chucking it all over the place! Even onto the paths, rocky ground, and weeds in the infertile margins of fields.

Why? And who is this fellow?

Well, at the time the parable was first told, the man doing the most ‘chucking’ was Jesus himself, who made a point of going to the people on the margins of society.

So, was Jesus being careless, even irresponsible, in wasting precious ‘seed’ by preaching to all and sundry (even Samaritans and lepers)?

Or was he being lavishly and lovingly extravagant? Making sure that everyone had the opportunity to hear about and to receive God’s grace?

Interestingly, the parable does not say explicitly that all of the seed falling among weeds, on rocky ground, or on the path failed to grow to maturity. We’ll all have seen plants growing in the most unlikely places.

Concentrating on sharing the gospel with those who we think are ready to hear it may seem to be the sensible option.

But let’s not pre-judge those we meet on our frontlines who do not seem ready.

To connect with them may simply require us to tell the gospel using concepts and language with which they are familiar. To throw seed onto seemingly unpromising ground. To touch hard, rocky, weedy hearts that may actually be bedded in good soil.

Which may actually be why Jesus taught in parables in the first place. So go on, chuck it about!


Mike Elms
A lifelong adman, Mike is now Chair of Trustees at CPO (Christian Publishing & Outreach). You can read more of his retellings of parables at www.parablesrewired.com

Are there any aspects of your frontline that you’d considered unpromising but which might actually contain good soil? Join the conversation in the comments section below.


Rewiring the Parables | ‘Foolishly Rich’ 4/4


  1. As a Street Pastor I have been surprised encouraged and humbled by the knowledge and openness of those we meet sometimes being rebuked for not greeting what appears to be a closed group I cant recall anyone being converted through our patrols but do believe that we along with other similar groups are recognised because we can chuck our space blankets water and snacks out and prayer for the Holy Spirit to water or going back to prayer enables us to have a spiritual thirst met yes as we do this on our front lines it might seem risky to me in and out of uniform (easier in uniform) the reactions of those we can assist make it worthwhile as I recall nothing we say is it will return to heaven until it has accomplished its purpose. Not sure of the theology but will continue to scatter once again these comments apply to all ventures and are not meant to be a pluck for Street Pastors as this is my frontline on Fridays

    By Philip L  -  14 Nov 2022
  2. I love this rewiring of a beloved parable. So often we are told that the seed needs to fall in fertile ground in order to grow. This does not take into account future circumstances or that the seed is for all time. Extravagance is needed to advance the kingdom of God. Thank you!

    By Dawn Upham  -  15 Nov 2022

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