Pea or Pumpkin?


Pictured above is the world’s largest pumpkin at 2,624 pounds. I can’t imagine the effort that went in to growing something that large. The amount of fertilizer, space, and forethought needed to grow something to that size and transport it to a competition blows my mind.

Now the question. If given the same amount of fertilizer and attention, would a pea plant produce a pea of equal size?

The answer, of course, is no. Peas are genetically programmed to grow more vine and make more pods when extra resources are available, whereas a pumpkin will continue to grow as long as it is attached.

While an interesting biological phenomenon, it gets even more fascinating when we cross domains and start applying the same concept to the Church.

Some congregations are Pumpkins. Some congregations are Peas. Each person is wired to prefer and function best in one environment or the other. Neither is better than the other, but if you are a Pea in a Pumpkin congregation you will never feel at home. At best you will find your own Pea community within the larger congregation and do your thing. At worst you will criticize the fact that resources seem to be constantly expanded to make larger facilities and grow the Sunday morning service instead of being invested in outreach, evangelism and spiritual formation.

Likewise, if you are a Pumpkin in a Pea congregation, you will be chomping at the bit to grow. You will never understand why the Pastor tamps down your big ideas or how people can be content to sit and talk to the same group of people each week and sit through a mediocre service.

While I am a Pea to my core, I’ve not always realized it. Like most Peas caught up in a Pumpkin culture that glorifies size and spectacle, I bought in to the idea that healthy things grow. What I wasn’t aware of was that this Pumpkin-proverb was only half true. Yes, healthy things grow, but only according to a set point determined by their genetics.

My son will likely be a tall man. At this stage in his life, his health is measured by his growth. But he will reach a threshold in adolescence where he achieves full stature. At that point, his health is no longer correlated with his height. Any attempt to gain more height after that point will be futile, if not dangerous.

Scroll back up and look at that pumpkin. It is huge. Would you call it healthy? Would you call it beautiful?

I wouldn’t. I’d say it was forced to grow beyond its limits. It even started to collapse under its own weight. I’d say that was a good thing taken to a twisted extreme.

That pumpkins are bigger than peas is a good thing. The reverse is true as well.

My next post will look at the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of each model. Until then, thanks for reading friend.