Life is full of seasons. The four seasons of the year definitely relate to life and leadership in a church.
If you think in terms of farming, it is even more helpful. There is a season of clearing away in a field, preparing it for planting. There is a season of weeding, watering. Then a season of harvesting, where you see the fruit of your labor. Then you start over.
When we started the church, it was clearing the field, getting the seed ready, tilling the ground. Things like building a team, building in that team, getting the word out, working through logistics and schedules to get a church off the ground. This is hard work. There is no shortcut through this, although I meet plenty of planters who want to skip this. It’s easy to see why, it is hard. Long hours, you see very little fruit because you are planting, you are weeding, you are watering. Some younger leaders can relate to this season as they work under a pastor, waiting for the time to plant a church. Many guys see this as “biding their time” but need to see it as the time of pruning, the Spirit of God working in and on them for what lays ahead. This season is mostly behind the scenes. The work that is being done is often being done in hearts, lives and in meetings as people work to shore up systems and how things are done.
In our lives, this is trying to get a career off the ground, trying to finish school, pay your dues at a company, working to get your marriage off the ground, trying to figure out kids, how that all works as you parent. This is the beginning of things. This is hard work. In this season, most dreams, most goals stop because of the difficulties.
Then you water, you clear the weeds away, making sure the crop gets sunlight, plenty of fertilizer and water. This the time that you start to see life. The first person to become a follower of Jesus, the first baptism, first marriage saved, you launch something in your church. This is exciting, this is what you hoped for. For many guys though, this can be depressing because it is slow. You will see plants come up that just die. You will see weeds that overtake plants. Or plants that don’t grow to what they should be. This is akin to MC’s that falter, leaders you poured into who walk away, marriages you counseled only to have them quit. Moments of betrayal and feeling stabbed in the back, feelings of God abandoning you. At this point, you will probably hear of how God is working in the church down the street. Don’t despair, they are in a different season.
Your marriage starts having small wins, you begin to see eye to eye, your connecting again. You get pregnant after a long, difficult season of infertility. Your work is beginning to get noticed, you get some accolades, a promotion, get accepted for that master’s program.
The next season is the harvest. Plants are growing, you are reaping rewards from your hard work. In this season, you have unprecedented momentum. You can do little wrong. Every idea you try seems to work. Your sermons click, MC’s multiply, money is great, staff is getting along. There is a buzz about what God is doing in your church. You might even be getting noticed in your city, people are talking. This is the season you hear about on twitter, blogs and at conferences.
This is where you can look back with some accomplishment on a project that has taken awhile, maybe you had a lot of work you had to do in your marriage, you sell a business, a business is finally humming and hitting on all cylinders, you graduate and all the work you put into your schooling is done. It is a season of accomplishment.
This is the season everyone wants to live in.
The reality though is that this season comes to an end, and then you start over. What often keeps pushing you through this cycle is the reality that the harvest season does come.
So, how long do these seasons last? It depends. When we started at Revolution, the first season last almost 18 months. It was hard. The second season about a year and we then moved into the harvest. I think right now God has us back to clearing the field, planting, tilling the ground for what is ahead. It isn’t easy, but I’m humbled by the strong leaders we have who are working behind the scenes.
Right now, I’m more excited about Revolution Church than I’ve ever been. God has some incredible and exciting things that are ahead for us. As we continue to learn how to make missional communities the best they can be, how to get more people into them, raise up more leaders so we can launch 12-14 missional communities in September. Now adding Jared Carter to our team to oversee Planet Rev and Rev uP. I think both of those ministries are about to take off.
We are also closing in our a new location for our church and are hoping to finalize some things this week. Be praying about this as God has opened and closed the doors he has needed to so far, but I think we are getting really, really close. There really is a lot to be excited about for the future of Revolution Church and how God wants to use us in the city of Tucson.
Get ready Revolutionaries.