Some of the seed the farmer scattered landed on a path going along the side of the field. As people traveled on the path, the ground became hard. The seed could not penetrate into the ground. Birds came and ate the seed.
Let us remember that this is a picture of God's kingdom. The seed is God's invitation. The soil is the hearts of people. The birds are the agents of the enemy.
It is the lives of people that are in view here. People who do not accept the invitation of God. Are we stretching the metaphor too far by suggesting that people's hearts are hardened by being trampled on? It is certainly true in cases.
How do agents of Satan steal the seed? If it is the invitation of God, it is not a piece of paper. It is a word or an idea in them.
Maybe the idea is not reinforced? Learning increases if information hits the brain in many ways. If people just hear a sermon ...
Why are people walking away from church, as a whole, in increasing numbers? Studies have been done to answer this question. The basic answer is: people do not see the character of God. People do not experience the love of God.
Maybe the invitation gets polluted? Contending ideas get introduced. Questions get asked that spread doubt about God's character, plan or motivation.
To be continued.