Sustainable Farming and the Gospel

Prairie_Whole“Like the world we live in, Christian discipleship is often fragmented and disjointed, separating body and soul, calling and the earth, creation and community.” So writes Phillip Jensen in the prospectus for a very unique internship program. If you’re a student looking for a spiritually and personally formative summer internship, look no further than the Earthen Institute Prairie Apprenticeship.

I first met Phillip last year when he came to Omaha to sit down and talk church planting. We have some mutual friends (Phillip is a graduate of Covenant Seminary), and he wanted to discuss the possibility of rural church planting in Iowa. But after hearing what he was doing – and the significant ministry opportunities God was opening up to him – I encouraged him to stay right where he was. The Holy Spirit has affirmed that calling. And in the process, he’s strengthened Phillip’s vision for using farming as a means of “discipleship in an instant society” (to borrow a phrase from Eugene Peterson).

Phillip runs Prairie Whole Farm, a sustainable farm and CSA cooperative in Ida Grove, Iowa. He spends his days planting crops, weeding gardens, and tending a herd of heritage hogs, not to mention raising a family, mentoring a cadre of troubled teens, and contributing thoughtfully to evangelical theology. He’s not a farmer; he’s a pastor who happens to farm. Or maybe more simply: he’s a gospel-transformed Christian living a theologically integrated life. And he’s charting a course I hope to see many others follow: integrating work, faith, and life in a way that appreciates and enters into the “liturgy of creation.”

Download the prospectus for the Prairie Apprenticeship Program here. And as you think of it, pray for the work of the Prairie Whole Farm. I anticipate that this small farm in rural Iowa is going to have a big influence in reforming our practices of discipleship and spiritual formation.

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