The Soil and the Seed Project – Spring 2024

Written by Greg Yoder and Seth Crissman. The version of this article that appeared in Highland’s printed newsletter was shortened somewhat in order to fit in the space available; this is the unabridged article.

In March of 1995, Seth Crissman was eight years old and growing up in western PA.  Every Saturday evening his family gathered to read Scripture, ask questions, and talk about their faith. They lit candles, sang the same songs, talked about what it meant to follow Jesus.

The important role of the family for forming faith isn’t a new idea. In Deut. 6:4-9, God’s people are instructed to love God with their whole beings, keeping God’s commandments and diligently teaching them to their children. The instruction describes families keeping and remembering God’s commands as they come and go, when lying down and getting up, and by placing visible reminders. Later on in Deuteronomy 6:20-21, a parent in the future is asked by their child, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” (Deut. 6:20 NIV). The parent is told to answer by telling what God has done, saving them. Deut. 6 reminds the church that: 1) forming faith must take place throughout people’s whole lives; 2) children’s questions are important; and 3) parents have an incredibly important role to play.

In March of 2020, those weekly rhythms from Seth’s childhood helped anchor Seth and his family even as many of the normal patterns for church and life were disrupted.  At the time, Seth was working for Virginia Mennonite Missions (VMMissions) helping churches launch “Kids Clubs.”  Around that time a Mennonite church – Early Church – released a collection of songs written within their community, “Behold and Become.” Seth wondered: what kind of intergenerational resources would be helpful for people as they follow Jesus, read scripture and talk about their faith together? The answer became The Soil and The Seed Project.

When Seth presented the proposal to VMMissions, he hoped to connect with 300 households. Since the project launched in 2021, the project has grown to connect with over 3,000 households in 30+ states, 100+ countries and people in 20+ denominations to form faith in Jesus Christ. God is good!

In July 2023, VMMissions was awarded a grant to continue and expand the work of The Soil and The Seed Project. Part of that expansion is the addition of opportunities to not only send out resources, but to also gather people in. One new significant in-gathering is The Shepherd’s Tree, a yearlong cohort bookended by two retreats here at Highland. The retreat (at the end of April) and the year-long cohort are for church leaders who work at supporting parents and forming faith in children and families. Music and worship will be led by musicians from the project.  It will be a weekend of retreat, learning, connecting and resting in the natural beauty here at Highland.

The Soil and The Seed Project team is also planning a weekend in October that will be a bit of a fall-family-festival-retreat with a family focus, but open to all. We’ll have more information soon, and you’ll be among the first to know, so stay tuned!