“Farm tractors are such a great metaphor for God’s power in the Christian spiritual life.”
That’s the heartfelt belief of Reverend Adam Hamilton.
“I grew up in Kansas City, but always had a love for the country,” said Rev. Hamilton at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
A multi-site United Methodist megachurch in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Rev. Hamilton started the church at Leawood in 1990.
Maintaining five campuses, membership now totals more than 25,000, with average weekly attendance of 30,000. That is in person, on internet and television with sermons available for later viewing.
“Everybody relates to tractors in one way or another whether they’ve ever been directly involved with farming,” Rev. Hamilton insisted. “Some of their families through the generations have been in production agriculture. And everybody’s food comes from farms whether they completely realize it or not.”
So, Rev. Hamilton titled his Summer Revival series “God and Tractors” with four sermons analogizing the power of tractors and God.
Bringing the message to more real life for his vast urban congregation, Rev. Hamilton brought his own tractor into the main church for July services.
“I live on 13 acres in Johnson County and have a 1964 John Deere 3020 gas tractor with some implements,” Rev. Hamilton said.
“Any day I can get on my tractor is a good day. I always feel a sense of closeness to God when on my tractor,” Rev. Hamilton said. “My July sermons have been aimed at helping people see how God works in our lives using various analogies related to tractors.”
Mud and grease were cleaned from his John Deere before Rev. Hamilton displayed it on the chancel of the Leawood church.
“I was able to drive the tractor in from the lower level of the church. It was raised on the orchestra lift for display 18-inches above the floor in the sanctuary,” Rev. Hamilton said. “The congregation had a sense of awe that first Sunday. But I feel like they’re better understanding, appreciating, and enjoying the sermons relating to power of both tractors and God.”
The first weekend, Rev. Hamilton spoke of getting his tractor stuck. He needed a larger tractor to “save” or “deliver” him, likening this to the “human need for God to rescue us.”
On the next Sunday, Hamilton related about his farm pond becoming silted in and needing to be rebuilt. Three large tractors cleaned the muck out and restored the pond.
He associated this to how people need repentance and God’s power to clean out the muck in their lives. “Jesus speaks about this as being born again,” Hamilton said. “We must admit mistakes, repent sins, invite God to clear out muck, so He can help us start over.”
During the third weekend, Hamilton likened the tractor to the power of the Holy Spirit and implements as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He contrasted harvesting wheat with a hand sickle versus harvesting with a combine.
“This is like the difference between living life with the power of the Spirit, or trying to do life on our own power,” Hamilton said.
Excitement was apparent as Rev. Hamilton talked about his final July sermon. “Wheat harvest is nearing completion in many areas,” he said. “In Jesus days, wheat was harvested with a sickle, then a scythe, later a threshing machine powered by a steam engine. Today, farmers have giant self-propelled combines.
“With a sickle, one-third of an acre of wheat could be harvested in a day. With a large combine today, a farmer can harvest 30 acres in an hour.
“As the power of harvest equipment has increased, so we as followers of Jesus Christ must increase his word to others,” the pastor said. “Our calling is to spread the word of God throughout the world empowering his Spirit for bountiful harvest and salvation.”
Following Sunday sermons, the congregation could view additional tractors displayed in the church yard.
“We had a local dealer bring tractors, there was an antique tractor display and farmers brought their equipment,” Rev. Hamilton said. “The congregation just loved it throughout the month.”
While growing up a city boy, Rev. Hamilton’s grandparents farmed in Oklahoma for a time fostering his appreciation for farm life. “My great grandparents, the Lorson family, farmed and some still do near Hope,” he noted. “I haven’t seen the Lorson’s since I was a kid but keep up a bit through Facebook.”
Deciding his future spreading faith beliefs when he was just 16 years old, Rev. Hamilton graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Master’s degree in theology was completed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Returning to his home community, Hamilton, then 25-tears-old, and his wife LaVon started the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with just four members. Today, it is one of the largest United Methodist congregations in the world.
“Now 58-years-old, I am committed to the renewal of the mainline church, especially the United Methodist Church,” Hamilton assured.
In 2012, he was invited by the White House to deliver the message at the National Prayer Service as a part of President Obama’s second inauguration.
The United Methodist Saint Paul School of Theology moved its facility from Kansas City, Missouri, to the Church of the Resurrection in the fall of 2013.
With multiple services each week in various locations throughout Kansas City, Rev. Hamilton has several assistants. “The sermon is presented live at our Leawood location and viewed on screens in the other locations,” he said.
Father of two daughters, Hamilton credits his wife and his entire family for assistance in spreading God’s word.
“Our daughter Danielle Hamilton Slate, an attorney, and her husband JT, with their eight-year-old daughter live on 20-acres south of Lawrence,” he said. “They produce and market fresh cut flowers.”
His daughter, Rebecca also has a tropical plant business. “We are all tied to the farming profession in a certain sense of the word,” Hamilton grinned.
Climax for Rev. Hamilton’s July tractor revival is proudly starting his John Deere tractor right in the church sanctuary. “Now with all of this power lets go to work spreading God’s word,” he challenges.
Sermons can be listened to at https://cor.org/leawood/sermons.