A Shift in Ministry

“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.

A few years ago, 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 ministry contains two aspects: the deeper Christian life (Andrew Murray’s term) and working in the trenches with organic missional churches.

In the present season of my ministry, I’m 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.

During this new season, my coworkers have been serving the churches we relate to and work with. They will also be planting new churches and speaking at various organic missional church conferences in my stead.

In turn, I’ve been focusing on writing on the deeper Christian life (this blog is a part of that ministry).

My last 4 print books and last 3 eBooks have fallen into the “the deeper Christian life/Jesus studies” category.

In addition, all of my future travels will be geared toward that aspect as well. I’m also forging relationships with pastors and seminary professors.

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. This particular season could end in 2014, 2015, or later. The Lord hasn’t revealed it yet.

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.

Has the Lord ever brought you into a new season of ministry? What season is your ministry in now?

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  • debra elramey

    I’ve been thinking of this very thing lately and, yes, he
    has brought me into a new season of ministry. For years I was in the music
    ministry as songwriter/recording artist/ worship leader, but then he led me into a
    quiet place – the lonely place apart – to just write. I wonder how long this will last. You just never know with the Lord, do you?