Walking through a greenhouse, especially in winter, is like finding an oasis in the dessert. They have just the right light, warmth, water, fertilizer and, most of all, expert gardeners who tend their seedlings until they emerge from strong roots and rich dirt into bursting buds, plump fruit and hearty stalks.
Authors of Greenhouses of Hope, edited by Dori Grinenko Baker, investigated churches that functioned like such oases — raising up young people so engaged in their faith that it infected all aspects of their lives, growing countless young people who assume church leadership. The author of each chapter observed what these thriving gardens of churches do to grow these young people. Although the congregations they studied were very different, they found some common practices in the tending of their greenhouses.
“Greenhouses of hope foster relationships among people of all ages and with all people outside one’s own family,” Melissa Wiginton writes in the final chapter. Spirituality in these congregations never happens solo — it happens in the context of community and deep relationship. Young people were vitally included in the life of the church and were known by many significant adults who nurtured their faith. They turned into young people who understand that a life of faith extends beyond the walls of their church and fills more time than one hour on Sunday morning.
Who were the master gardeners in your life? Who tended your faith into what it is today? What ways do you or can you live out that example in your work with young people today?