I came across this image of church planting almost twenty years ago. It has stayed with me all that time. Since then I've met, and even stayed in the home of Bob and Mary Hopkins who have championed the cause of church planting in Britain for two decades.
Today you can travel to Greece and visit the site of the home and one of the early hospitals of Hippocrates. He is the inspiration of the modern medical profession.
There you will find the olive tree of Hippocrates, said to date from his time over 2,400 years ago. The wide trunk is almost hollow except for a thin outer shell. There are a few straggly branches supported by wooden props. The ancient olive tree has few leaves and in season produces only one or two olives.
Just over the stone walls that surround the site are olive groves in every direction. In contrast, these young olive trees are strong and healthy, covered in leaves and in season, burdened with olives.
The olive tree of Hippocrates is still an olive tree, yet a long time ago it stopped functioning effectively. Tourists come to honour this ancient link with the past. But the job of producing olives has been passed on to a succession of new olive trees, now covering the surrounding countryside.
Church Planting Models For Missions In The Church Of England (Bob Hopkins), 7.