Monday, November 24, 2008

Church Seasons

In church life, we are always in a season. A key responsibility of the leader is to know what season the organization is in, to name it, and then to communicate the implications of that season.

Here are a few of the seasons that Bill Hybels defines in his book, Axiom:

An easy season to identify is a season of growth. In a growth season, everything is rosy. Attendance is spiking, giving is on the rise, programs are thriving, and the future looks bright. In seasons like this, leaders have to be organizationally aware enough to say, “Look, everybody, we’re going through a fun growth spurt here. Let’s enjoy this season and play it out for as long as we can. You know as well as I do that it won’t last forever, but while it’s here, let’s thank God for it and see how long we can keep it going!”

Another season might be called consolidation, which usually follows a season of growth. The goal during consolidations is to assimilate and support the people who showed up during all of that growth. Newcomers typically need discipleship and community and care. Investing in your infrastructure and protecting your recent gains proves you can be trusted with the growth God graciously gives. Effective consolidation earns you permission to enter yet another season of growth sometime in the future.

Another season that is familiar to leaders is a season of transition. It might begin when several staff decide to leave all at once, and everything and everyone feels at bit off balance and uncertain. It might be complicated by external factors such as a downturn in the local economy or a major upheaval in the community, and leaders are the ones who must give voice and language to that reality. They must explain why the era is occurring, what it means, and how to navigate through it.

Finally, there’s reinvention. This is when the leader announces that it’s time to put every ministry of the church under the microscope and discern whether it needs a face-lift, an overhaul, or a funeral----a necessary pruning exercise to make room for future growth.

This leadership-seasons idea traces back to Ecclesiastes 3:1, which says that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Do yourself and those you lead the favor of learning to spot your season and give voice to the realities of that season. Assign appropriate language to it, designate helpful parameters to succeeding within it, and confidently offer solutions for moving through it. You’re always in a season! It’s your role to know which it is and what to do about it.

I found this really insightful. I will be writing soon about what season I see CCF in.



KevinS said...

I love Hybels, but he's a bit of a city-boy. bo) Us farm-boys have different experiences. Bo)

With plants there are seasons where there is tremendous growth. It seems like every day the plants are taller. Then, suddenly, everything stops. For quite a while there seems to be no growth. I say 'seems' because in reality there is a lot going on, but you can't see it.

I this season the roots are growing. Strong roots help plants weather storms and droughts. This hidden growth is necessary in the long term, but it can be frustrating to those stuck above ground.

I don't know if this season of hidden growth maps well to Hybel's Season of Consolidation or not. But what do you expect from a city-boy. bo}

Pastor Noah said...

I think that he would say that this is part of the consolidation stage. Good thoughts though.