MADISON, Wis.—Needing a tool to help connect to their “green” neighborhood, Meadowood Baptist Church is using part of its land for a community garden.

Pastor Bill Maddox says, “We wanted to do something that our community would be able to respect us for and to use as a spiritual bridge. We wanted to help our people build some intentional relationships. Our ultimate goal was/is to see some of our neighbors come to know Jesus.”

Madison is a town “where we are compelled to be against most of what our city is for,” says Pastor Maddox. Then, too, the church has neighbors who are afraid of Baptists, calling them right-wing wackos. The community is also passionate about organic food, gung ho for community gardens, and always in need of support for neighborhood food pantries.

A charter member deeded the church four acres of land he had farmed for many years. Pastor Maddox says the church asked, Why not use some of this land for evangelism? “When we settled on the idea,” he says, “it became our ‘duh!’ moment.”

The church adopted the theme “Plant a seed . . . change a life.” Pastor Maddox points out, “Our unchurched gardeners like saying it too, although they are thinking about a different kind of change than I am.”

“We decided on 10 plots of 10′ x 20′,” says Maddox. “We set aside two plots as a food-pantry garden. We had four plots taken by church families and four by our neighbors.”

The church has yet to see a decision for salvation from any of the four gardening families, but Pastor Maddox says the church has made “incredible inroads to developing connections to our neighborhood.” For example, he shares, “We have neighbors who go out of their way to talk to me when they see me on the property, instead of going out of their way to avoid me. . . . On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give our spiritual impact quotient a solid 8.”