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Seasons of Leadership: Living the Church Year with Purpose and Reflection

“That is just the season I am in…”

“It’s been a tough season…”

“It’s been a joyful season…”

“The season of Lent is so busy…”

I don’t think it is by accident that leaders, and humans in general, see life through the lens of season. Seasons come, seasons go, but the Word of our Lord remains forever. 

This short blog will explore the (mostly) natural “seasons” of the church year from a church leadership perspective. These general insights have been experienced over 16 years leading in our slightly larger church and school context. Some of the insights will connect to the seasons of the church-year calendar. Others will not. 

Summer: Projects, Evaluate, Retreat, Rest

In a school environment summer is for projects. Painting. Building. Cleaning. Evaluating. Planning. 

The church should think of summers in a similar fashion. Breath. Get away. Retreat with your team. Dream about bigger projects. Cast vision with your team and see what “sticks.” 

Plan to launch. The summer allows you to actively put together a plan to engage your leaders and serve team members heading into the fall. Planning honors your leaders and serve-team members. 

Take your vacation. Seriously. Do it. If you see someone on your team not getting away, please ask them to at least take all of their days off. I had 15 days of paid vacation that I had to take this summer. I am gladly taking it. My soul needs it. 

You may wonder, “Who preaches when you are gone?” Great question! Summer is a fantastic time for some of our developing bivocational and covocational vicars to bring a Sunday message. We normally do a book of the Bible sermon series through June and July. You could do a Summer of Psalms or Summer in Proverbs, allowing the vicars more of a “one off” preaching experience. 

Fall: Gather, Scatter, Story

The rhythm of school life begins again. I love seeing the kids back on campus. Kids bring so much energy and life to the church. 

In the church, people are more eager to set new relational rhythms. This is an ideal time to launch new ministry, new groups, and new serve teams. 

There will be new people either joining the church, starting to serve, or taking their next step into a leadership role. Capitalize on their passion for taking their next step into leadership by telling their story. Video it. Platform it. Tell it in a sermon. Tell their story by whatever means possible. 

Don’t forget to strongly monitor your morning rhythms during this season. Start the morning with water. Move your body. Sweat, stretch, and pump some iron. Take your Sabbath. Shut it down for at least a 24-hour stretch every week. Work from rest, don’t rest from work. 

Winter: Celebrate, Sustain, Surrender

If you have a school, winter is about settling in and finding your groove. 

In the church, winter and the Advent/Christmas season are almost synonymous. 

Christmas Eve is obviously the priority. Plan and execute. Exceed hospitality expectations. Preach a shorter, evangelical, Jesus-centered message. Duh. 

Little sidenote, I’ve noticed that if I’ve planned and released Christmas Eve and Easter to our team, I may end up with a little bit of extra time. People generally, and I think almost subconsciously, leave pastors alone during these seasons. 

What do you do with this time? I like to re-ignite vision. Make sure the vision is not drifting. 

Write letters of encouragement, maybe including a Christmas gift card for your top leaders, both paid and non-paid. Celebrate people. You can never go wrong there. 

Sustain yourself in the promises of the Incarnate Christ come for you, for the world. Allow your imagination to come alive once again to the mystery of God’s Word became flesh in the form of a little baby in Bethlehem. 

Surrender outcomes of growth to the Lord. Hopefully you saw new people come on Christmas Eve. Set and sustain your guest engagement process for your first-, second-, and third-time guests (assuming you have one—hit up the ULC if you don’t). Surrender ultimate results to the Lord. 

Spring: Grow, Go, Finish

If you have a school, spring means kids get antsy. So do teachers. Don’t get angry. It’s getting nicer outside. Encourage them all to keep their eyes on Jesus, use their gifts, finish strong, and go for a walk in creation. Smile. Jesus lives…in you. 

Church ministries should be on full-tilt activity. Don’t forget to tell stories of God at work in His people. Stay connected. Don’t control. Keep your eyes focused on leadership development. Some new leaders may emerge in the spring. Don’t stop having ICNU conversations. The Holy Spirit is at work. 

Lent and Holy Week are a big deal. Duh. Plan. Get creative. We highly recommend running a theme that carries through Lent to Easter Sunday! For example, last Lent we focused on The Way of Jesus culminating The Way of Hope on Easter Sunday. 

Finish strong by staying deeply relationally and empathetic. Folks may get a little stressed…okay, they will be stressed. Graduations. Year end school parties. Gala’s. Spring festivals. Ministries will be trying to finish strong into the summer. They will need your encouragement. Give it liberally. 

Ministry occurs in seasons. Leaders understand the season(s). In summary, fall is the beginning of the “church year.” Winter is for celebrating and sustaining. Spring is the end of the church year. Summer is for projects, planning, and rest. Lead with kindness and courage understanding the season.


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