Is Your Ministry Due for a New Season?

“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 sovereignty 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 you will change your focus of service for a time.

Last May, 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

My ministry contains two aspects:

In Writing:

1. the deeper Christian life (Andrew Murray’s term) and Jesus studies.

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 January 2012 — I’ve been focusing exclusively on the deeper Christian life (which includes Jesus studies) as well as helping the poor and developing relationships with non believers.

The deeper Christian life is a much broader ministry than that of organic missional church. It appeals to all Christians in all denominations and church forms, including pastors.

Note that 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 the deeper Christian life themes as well as Jesus studies.

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.

Crop Rotation

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.

The Lord hasn’t revealed it yet. But I feel that it’s going to be a number of years.

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.

LikeWithBorder

facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Comments

  1. says

    Great timing for me to read this article! I have been thinking about this same concept (seasons) throughout this year.

    I am actually moving into a new season currently, including a geographical move. I do not yet know what it all entails, but more clarity is coming.

    God Bless,

    Jake

  2. Derek White says

    As I’ve looked through your site and read some of the books you’ve written, it seems you’ve taken a reverse journey compared to some of the people you often quote. (I find this to be a good thing!) Nee and Sparks, for example, started out with the deeper Christian life and then moved on to what you refer to as the organic Church. You seem to have done the reverse and I find this interesting, refreshing, and helpful as it allows your voice to be heard by those still ministering with denominations and other Christian organizations.

    Thank you for the work you’re doing.

  3. Summer says

    Oh has He ever! I would wonder if one is actually in relationship with God if they have never experienced a change in season… This season was one I went into kicking and screaming, but has been one of epic discoveries! Oh how grateful I am that He changed my season and I can feel a new one coming soon.

  4. Greg Gordon says

    “There were also seasons where God sovereignty limited Paul, allowing him to undergo imprisonment for a period of years.”

    May we all have that perspective that God is in control and if we understood the larger picture of our “season” that we are in we would rejoice for what is coming to us soon.

  5. Maina says

    Thanks Frank,
    Your post is spot on. as for me, I left a christian organization I had served in for close to 10 years and have been in a season one would call detoxing. I have lately started sensing a change of season to one of relearning. there are specific material and authors of interest in this season including beyond evangelical and re-builders – don’t know for how long for sure, so ‘will be keen to be alert to His leading.
    Your ministry is a blessing – thanks again.

    Maina

  6. says

    I totally get this Frank. Having left ministry a year ago my life went through transition. I went into a prolonged dry season and just in the last few months have I been branching out again and finding new life in other areas of my life. Thanks for post.

  7. says

    I’m glad to be a newbie to your blog, ministry, books, etc. I have no expectations, and lots of similar interests that are enjoying the simplicity of online fellowship. Wishing you fruit, faith, fullness, and other good stuff for your new season.

  8. says

    Frank, Jesus came to preach to the poor and set the captives free. No work is as rewarding and as needed as working with the poor. The poor in the US are rich by 3rd world standards and if any of your readers want to work in Missions in Africa, India or China we can refer you to many wonderful opportunities. We especially need volunteers in Kenya, Uganda and Liberia. Locally every community needs help with the homeless and hungry. Open your eyes to the opportunities around you.

  9. Onward, Forward, Toward... says

    Frank:

    Thank you for this timely article. I feel the new season in my life in the realm of change but for some reason, I have been thinking of this in aeronautical terms in reference to the term “holding pattern”. I feel as if I am 5000 feet in the air and having to circle around whatever the next thing is before God clears me to come down and land on the runway.

    Problem is, I don’t know where I’m landing in terms to ministry

  10. Carole says

    Your post is very welcome. Thank you! Some salient points you raise delight my soul as they are the issues I recognized and addressed a while back – following promptings of the Holy Spirit. One being a complete change from many long years of pastoring fellowships to itinerant ministry in nations … to that of reaching out to the city in which I live, to raise up a generation of women from all walks of life with hands-on discipleship. A real challenge but such a rewarding season. What a far cry from the great gulf fixed between pulpit and pew, pastor and people. I’m done with the gap and non-participatory institutionalized church.

  11. Anne Banks says

    This post is very inspirational for me Frank….thank you. I am at a turning point in my life (spiritually speaking) where, although I am hearing teaching’s online, from various parts of the world including a group where I would consider to be my spiritual home (but cannot attend meetings at the moment), my feeding is coming from being alone with God, at home and He is broadening my vision through the internet as well as contact locally. Maybe I am not very good at explaining myself, but I believe I am in a period or growth at this present time to share His Word in the future……………..some people may say that there is no better time than now……..I would say, “There is no better time than God’s time’.

    Many blessings to you.

    Anne x

  12. Al Boyce says

    Hey Frank:
    Remember the best crop rotation system creates the fertilizer for the next crop through the preceding one.

    I try to remember that when I start thinking a particular church or tradition is full of, well, let’s say manure :-)

    God bless on your new direction. My wife and I have found God takes us down many side paths, including the homeless, addicts, at-risk children, special needs folks, Muslims, I used to say the list is long. Now I just assume it is all-inclusive.

    Al

  13. says

    Having been in the ministry for years, and not being involved now is spiritually suffocating. I finally feel released back into ministry but unsure what He has for me. He’s walking me through writing a devotional for women, which has become a much harder task than I ever imagined. I look forward to your posts as I struggle to find my place.

  14. says

    Sometimes I watch other people, people who serve in a single ministry for years and years, decades, and I wonder why I seem to move from one ministry to another. I’ve wondered a few times if perhaps I lack focus, if I get bored, but I never really felt God say that and so I let those ideas go, allowing the Holy Spirit to open doors and then close them.

    And so I transitioned, from ministering in women’s Bible studies, encouraging and discipling, to working with young couples, encouraging and discipling, to college students, to serving with a creative arts team and helping with sermon planning, back to women and now to . . .

    Sometimes I’m in limbo, waiting for God’s next plan.
    Sometimes letting go and releasing ministry is difficult or painful.

    Thank you for explaining this process that I’ve observed for so many years.

  15. Josh L says

    I find this post very interesting given the time of transition I’m going through in my own life right now. For some reason I can be so blind to seasonal change, be it in life, ministry, ect., when all around, like Paul said, nature itself is teaching me. Thanks for sharing, bro.

  16. Robyn says

    funny you would bring up seasons…I just Facebooked yesterday how I have no favorite season…love them all…but am always excited for the next season to arrive…literal, natural seasons. Spritually, some season changes for me have been dramatic and others subtle. I am enjoying the freedom of organic Christian life right now and the abundance of opportunities naturally set before me to serve, give, and teach as I live out my faith walking in Christ daily out in real life. I don’t have a name for the season…I guess it’s the season of “unscheduled Christianity” for me but it feels like “vacation season”…is there something wrong about that LOL?

    • Ant Writes says

      @Robyn: You must not live up north, or you wouldn’t be saying that :) While I love Florida and have a lot of family in Broward county, there are NO seasons down there. Just hot and hotter.;) I live in NY and while I love the “idea”of seasons, but winter has really gotten to me. It can be winter for a month, and then it has to go.

  17. says

    Thanks or the encouragement to embrace new seasons in ministry. I find that sometimes I’m too arrogant or proud to ask if God is leading me in a different direction…especially when I’ve staked so much of my identity on what I’m currently doing.

  18. Ant Writes says

    I’ve thought about what season my family is in extensively. We left the Institutional church 6 years ago, and I’ve been reeducating myself and feeding others since then. I think the Lord may be moving us again, but we must still wait and see. I don’t want to do anything too soon.
    I know we have the whole parking lot, but I want to be wise and not park where there are no stores ;)

  19. Chris Lovie-Tyler says

    Looking forward to your future posts (and books), Frank. That’s what I want most: a deeper, more consistent relationship with God.

  20. says

    How timely is your post Frank. Just this morning I was reflecting back over my life and how grateful and thankful I am to the Lord for all He has brought me through and the lessons He has so graciously taught me. I believe I have been in the winter season of my spiritual life for almost three years now. Like a farmer who prunes his trees during the winter season so does the Father prune His branches in order for more growth to occur and more fruit to be produced. I believe the spring season is now on the horizon and I can feel and sense the anticipation and excitement in my heart . The Son is shining bright and I can feel the warmth of His Love from the Light.
    In my reflections today I appear to have a much greater appreciation and thankfulness in my heart for all the Father has given us through His beautiful, glorious and marvelous Son. To God be the Glory!
    I am reminded once again how, “…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2Cor. 4:7 KJV
    A new church plant has begun and for this too we give God all the Glory! Words cannot describe how thankful I am for His Love. We love Him, because He first loved us,1JN 4:19 KJV.

  21. Gil says

    This post is great! Recently I felt that I had to stop everything that was not in the direction of true community (organic). I felt I have to put all my time in one direction in the translation of good articles on the organic church and locally on the developement of that. But since just yesterday I really felt I have to gives new life to our association “who is my neighbor?” organizing conferences on God’s vision of social justice, helping the poor, to forward a strong vision about that in the christian world in my country. And finally we thought both of us (with my wife)it would be nice to stay at least a year to United States (we live in Switzerland) in an organic church to be impregnated by it. New seasons to come!

  22. says

    This is so timely for me. I just today began a series of posts relating this topic specifically the blog I write. It has gone through at least two seasons, and I sense a shift to a new one now. I don’t yet have a clear direction from the Spirit, but I am listening and waiting to see where He points me.

  23. Jim Puntney says

    Great topic Frank, and yes I have experienced seasons. About a year ago I was given the opportunity to find new employment. I recognized this Gods will, and embraced the task. Soon I found work, and this lasted several months. Then came what I thought was a brief lapse of employment(it lasted 7 months). This unemployment season was most valuable time of my life thus far, during this time my focus was refined,and I was able to devote huge chunks of time reading, and studying. In the past few weeks I have been granted employment, and in this new season I look forward to the challenges, and opportunities that will come my way.

    As a follower we need to keep our bags packed.

  24. says

    I am finishing off a project to do with a Managing Sustainable Rural Development course I am taking, I know I am to continue onto the next level of a doctorate and of course that will be different to the Masters level I am studying so far. I am now beginning to get the idea that there is something different too in the next season, having read various messages all saying the same thing from different blogs I follow, to different friends I have talked to. It should not come as a surprise to me really as I often relate the rural lessons of seasons to people who come my way and judging when to lay something down, even as you say for a time. I am also well acquainted with the seasonal nature of life as the jobs we do with the land we manage changes.

    As for which season I am in, probably harvesting at the moment as I bring together all I have found out to try and make one coherent whole, one that hopefully blesses the local farmers in my area and helps them to find justice and not just a piece of academic literature destined to languish in the annals of the university library. Well I can hope! Not quite the ministry that people normally associate in Christian circles but I believe part of bringing the Kingdom of God into this world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>