The Metaphor

Growing maize is a metaphor for forming disciples.

How so?

Throughout Africa, maize is grown by ordinary, untrained people. For food; for sharing; for sowing. The growing of maize is not a domain of specialist agriculturalists: anyone can grow maize, almost anywhere. All it takes is a patch of soil, seed, some basic tools, sunshine, rainfall and a determination to act.

Similarly, anyone can be involved in making disciples. Making disciples is not  intended to be a domain of specialists or clerical professionals. Indeed, clerics and theologians are sometimes poorly-equipped by their own specialist training to facilitate scripturally-based discipleship. What is required are a set of basic tools that are suited to ordinary people.

That is what Maize Plant Discipleship resources provide: a set of basic, scripturally-based resources accessible to ordinary people. In particular, resources that bridge the literary–orality divide by enabling a literate facilitator to organise open, reflective, oral group discussions.

The metaphor of seed, soil and dynamic growth

Jesus describes his life and mission using the metaphor of a seed entering the ground to die and produce a harvest (John 12:24). Maize Plant Discipleship extends the metaphor by comparing the growth of messianic communities with the growth of maize plants.

Like maize plants, messianic communities are capable of dynamic growth: they often spring up quickly, they are capable of multiply rapidly and, carefully managed, they provide fruitful harvests, season after season.

The figure below illustrates this maize plant metaphor. The fifteen modules of the syllabus are represented as either:

  • roots and fruits, representing the dynamic, fruitful growth of the Messianic Community,
  • sunshine and rainfall, representing disciplines that stimulate healthy, messianic growth

Roots anchor plants in the face of destructive winds (metaphorically representing false teaching) and sustain them amidst withering heat (metaphorically representing trials, temptations, vocational responsibility), enabling them to bear good fruit even in testing circumstances.

Growth and fruitfulness (representing faithful love of God and neighbour) come from a combination of sunlight (representing spiritual knowledge, wisdom, discipline) and life-giving water (representing spiritual power, vitality).