“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”Ecclesiastes 3:1
One of the (many) reasons I love living in Kentucky is the fact that we experience four distinct seasons throughout the year. We shovel snow in January, admire the dogwoods as they bloom in April, enjoy an outdoor barbeque in July, and bask in the vibrant colors of the leaves in October.
As the seasons change, we make the necessary adjustments to prepare for the season ahead. We plant vegetables in the spring. We make sure the air conditioner is functioning properly as summer approaches. We collect back to school supplies in the early days of autumn. We pull out our winter coats as the temperature drops. We know how to adjust to the changing seasons.
Seasons in the Church
Churches experience seasons as well. Spring will often find your church preparing for the activities and events surrounding Jesus’ resurrection. Summer will find the church conducting Vacation Bible School, engaging in mission trips, and sending young people to camp. Many new ministries are launched in the fall as things settle down and kids go back to school. Christmas plays, live nativities, and caroling in the neighborhood populate the church calendar as the year winds down. As each of these seasons approach, the church makes the necessary adjustments to prepare for their arrival.
But the church also experiences other types of seasons that don’t always follow the calendar, and these seasons aren’t as predictable. Your church could experience a season of growth. Or it could be in a season of rapid decline. It could be a season of conflict. It could be a season of financial blessing. It could be a season of increased missions engagement. It could be any number of things.
A Season of Disruption
Right now, we’re in a season of disruption. Most of the church’s normal activities have been canceled or paused. The resurrection was celebrated from home in front of a screen. VBS was postponed or canceled altogether. Mission trips were rescheduled. Summer camp was canceled. Many Sunday School classes continue to meet virtually. As the pandemic continues, the events on the church’s calendar for the fall and winter may soon be on the chopping block as well.
But the good news is that one of the distinctive features of a season is that it doesn’t last forever. Every season has a beginning and an end. That means this season of disruption will pass. Only God knows when that will be, but we can trust that it will come to an end.
Making the Most of This Season
For now, this season continues. And the church has two ways we can respond. One option is to hunker down and just try to ride out the storm. The second option is to use this season in productive ways that can propel your church’s ministry forward once this season has passed.
I hope you will choose the second option. If so, here are four ways to make the most of this season:
- Use this as a season of prayer. Every great movement in the history of the church began as God’s people cried out to Him in prayer. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that God is “omni-present”, meaning that He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12). Whether the church is gathered or scattered, God is present, and He stands ready to respond to the prayers of His people. Use this time to deepen your relationship with the Lord through frequent and fervent prayer.
- Use this as a season of evaluation. Every church has sacred cows. Those traditions, ministries, or events that they consider to be untouchable. It could be the order of the worship service. It could be the big Back to School bash held every August. It could be the monthly bake sale to benefit one of the church’s ministries. It could be any number of things. However, since nothing has been “normal” since March, this pandemic has slaughtered many sacred cows in the church. Therefore, use this time to evaluate all of your church’s ministries. You may discover some sacred cows don’t need to be brought back to life.
- Use this as a season of preparation. Your church will probably not look the same once this season comes to an end. Some ministries may not return. Others will return, but they may look drastically different. Some volunteers may not return for a long time. Some new equipment may need to be purchased. If your church does plan to make changes or adjustments, use this as a season to prepare for what lies ahead.
- Use this as a season of spiritual growth. God often uses adversity to sanctify His church (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7). I believe God can use this season to spiritually develop His people in ways that may have not been accomplished otherwise. Perhaps He is using this pandemic to help us to depend on Him more, and ourselves less. Perhaps He is showing us what really matters in the church and in our individual lives. Don’t miss the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord during this season!
This is a difficult season, but it won’t last forever. Until it passes, I pray that you and your church will make the most of this season!