I have to confess something, I really do love the church. Jesus started it, Jesus died for it, Jesus rose again for it and Jesus is coming back for it.
Bill Hybels says, “The Church is the hope of the world.” I believe this with all my heart.
And yet over the years, as a pastor of a church, I have experienced different seasons of church life.
Recently I have been asking leaders a straight forward question to test their organizational awareness by asking this question: “What season are you in as a church?”
The most perceptive leaders I know fire back an answer to that question without batting an eye: “We’re in a growth season right now,” or “We’ve been on a plateau for far too long, and people are getting frustrated and they are starting to gossip,” or “We’ve run our volunteers ragged and probably need to slow the pace and let people catch their breath,” or “We’ve gone through more change cycles in the past ninety days than should be legal, but things are finally starting to settle out a bit.”
I believe a key responsibility of the leader or leaders is to know what season the organization is in, to name it, and then to communicate the implications of that season to his or her followers.
We get this idea of seasons from Ecclesiastes 3:1, which says that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Most leaders can name the season they are in but simultaneously neglect to tell their followers what season they’re in! And based on my experience, people sitting in your organization will have no clue what season they’re in unless you tell them.
Do yourself and those you lead the favor of learning to spot the changing of the seasons in your environment. When you see growth bloom or transition hit or feel the icy days of malaise descend, draw attention to the shift.
Give voice to the realities of that season. Name it, create helpful parameters to succeeding within it, and confidently offer solutions for moving through it.
You’re always in a season, leader. It’s your role to know which it is and what to do about it. If you do not know what season you are in, here are a few seasons that can help clarify where you are:
Growth season – you are experiencing momentum in your children’s ministry or youth ministry or your worship services etc. this is a fun season to be in.
Tranistion season – you have experienced a change in pastor’s or leadership. If you are sitting in this right now, wait upon the Lord, fix your eyes on Jesus. Over communicate with your church where you are at and where theLord is taking you as an organization. WARNING: If you do not name this season, and it begins to feel like you are leaderless, the potential for gossip, dissension and disunity can come sweeping in like a fire and burn up the good work God has done. Keep short accounts, over communicate the season you are in. Challenge people to talk to the leaders rather than talking about the leaders. Speak the truth in love. Gossip kills, Truth wins the day every time.
Malaise season – you are experiencing a plateau in your ministry. Attendance has plateaued, finances have plateaued, what used to be warm and exciting seems to be icy and boring.
Again, the number one role of a leader according to a Max Dupree is to, “Define Reality.” Facts are our friends. Get the right people around a table and truthfully address where you are at as an organization. If you need to, call in a consultant who has fresh eyes and perspective, but don’t sit in malaise, do something about it.
So, I guess my question to you is, “What season are you in right now? Ask it, define it, go after it, clarify it and then communicate the implications of that season to your church.
The Church really is the hope of the world. Let us continue to do all we can to stay red hot on mission to share the Good News of Jesus and His sacrificial love for the world. And May we continue to pray for courage and strength for our leaders and churches as we pursue Jesus in every season.
(These thoughts were inspired by an article written by a Bill Hybels.)