“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Over the years, I’ve said a lot about the seasonal nature of the church and the seasonal nature of the Christian life.
What is true for the church and for the individual Christian is also true for spiritual service or ministry. It too passes through different seasons.
God built seasons into His creation for many reasons. One of which is to teach us spiritual lessons. “First the natural, then the spiritual” . . . “Does not nature teach you?”
Take Paul of Tarsus, for example. Paul’s ministry was centered on preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ and establishing churches upon that revelation. But Paul didn’t always do that.
After his first church planting trip, Paul spent a lengthy period of time with the church in Antioch, a church he didn’t plant. Following his third church planting trip, he spent time with the church in Jerusalem, another church he didn’t plant.
There were also seasons where God sovereignly limited Paul, allowing him to undergo imprisonment for a period of years.
Interestingly, it was during those times of spiritual limitation that Paul produced his most remarkable letters, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.
If you are serving the Lord in some capacity, it’s important that you have a nose to discern the season you are in. There will be seasons for rest, recentering, and refreshment.
There may also be seasons where the Lord will change the focus of service for a time. The essential thrust of your ministry will remain the same, but certain aspects within that thrust may change.
Last May (2012), I went on a blog sabbatical to complete a mammoth writing project. I also reduced the number of speaking invitations I accepted considerably, only accepting a handful and declining the rest.
My Present Ministry Season
The essential thrust of my ministry is the Eternal Purpose of God.
For many years, my focus has been on the following aspects within that thrust:
1. Jesus Studies and the deeper Christian life (Andrew Murray’s term).
2. Radical ecclesiology.
On the Ground:
1. Helping the poor and the oppressed.
2. Working in the trenches with organic missional churches.
In the present season of my ministry — which began in 2011 — I’ve been focusing exclusively on Jesus Studies and the deeper Christian life as well as helping the poor and developing relationships with non believers.
I’ve not written on ecclesiology (“church”) since 2009.
While I still stand by every word of what I’ve written in my earlier books, I’ve simply moved on from that subject to focus on these other broader themes.
If you look at my Discography, all of my books since Finding Organic Church (2009) have not been about “church” themes.
In addition, all of my speaking engagements have been geared toward Jesus Studies and the deeper Christian life as well.
I’ve also been forging relationships with pastors and seminary professors in mastermind groups and co-writing projects.
The analogy of crop rotation works well here. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of similar kinds of crops in the same area during different seasons.
When that season is over, they’ll turn the soil over in the field, and plant another kind of crop in its place. One crop per season. One laser focus at a time.
I’m unsure how long this particular season will last and when I’ll resume working with organic missional churches.
I don’t expect it to be anytime soon, however.
But as with all stewards of the Lord, our chief calling is to be faithful to that which God has called us (1 Cor. 4:2). And we should always be keen to discern the season.
See my post Blessed Are the Undesirable for more about my current work with the poor.