The start of a new season of our favorite show is thrilling. Hours later, after we’ve watched the last episode, we might feel guilty that we spent so much time entertaining ourselves — and slightly anxious about what’s going to happen in the next season.
But this Alban Weekly is not about binge-watching your favorite television show. God’s idea of a season is a little different. At the beginning of the psalter, we’re told that a person in whom God delights is like a tree planted by streams of water, which brings forth fruit “in season” (Psalm 1:3). God’s seasons are times that God designates for something to happen. If there’s a season for it, it’s important to God.
Congregations have different needs in different seasons. This means that congregational leadership must recognize and prepare for seasons to change. In places that experience four distinct natural seasons, what is possible in one season is not possible in another season. In Maine, you can snowmobile to the grocery store in the winter, but not in the summer.
Do you know the season you’re in today? Norwegians have a saying that there is no such thing as bad weather — only bad clothing. Every season has its own weather, and knowing the season helps us prepare ourselves and our people. Some congregations are in a season of rebuilding and reimagining; local demographics have been changing for years, and you can’t pretend anymore that you’re in a season of exponential growth. Some congregations are in a season of healing; if a key leader left unexpectedly or due to a lack of integrity, it’s the season to restore hope and trust.
Seasons do change. Growth leads to a season of reorganization. After a period of stagnation, we’re ready for a season of innovation. Prolonged productivity can push us into a season of setting new limits. The good news today is that the good work God wants to do can happen in the right season.
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Before you go…
Individual leaders have seasons, too. For me, this is a season of reflection and refocusing. I recently asked a group of leaders to describe their own current seasons, and their answers varied widely. They named seasons of thanksgiving and realignment, setting limits and new growth, grief and getting hungry for God. It was clear that they had been thinking about this before I asked the question.
Where I live, the signs of spring are emerging every day. Trees are blooming. The pollen count is rising. The season is about to change again. God is a God of seasons, so let’s remain confident as we take the time to discern which season we’re in today.
You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at email@example.com. I’d love to know what season this is for you. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity
All preachers, including active clergy, seminarians, lay preachers and retired clergy are invited to participate in a research survey being conducted by the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary. This is part of a six-year-long project begun in 2017 that informed her book, “Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide” (Alban/Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). She is especially hoping for clergy who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian to respond to the survey, since these groups are historically underrepresented in research.
Your responses will help further research about preaching and ministry at this unique time in American history regarding topics such as racism, environment, immigration, abortion, guns and LGBTQIA issues. This survey is anonymous and estimated completion time is 11-16 minutes. The survey is open through March 17. You are also encouraged to share this with other preachers in your network. Respondents who complete the survey can enter a drawing to win either five copies of Dr. Schade’s Lenten devotional, ‘For the Beauty of the Earth,’ or one copy of ‘Preaching in the Purple Zone’ (your choice).
Here is the survey link.
Any questions can be directed to Dr. Schade at firstname.lastname@example.org.