(This week’s post is my monthly newsletter article for my church’s newsletter. While these articles aren’t always appropriate to my slightly wider reading audience, this one applies to all kinds of organizations as well as our personal journey.)
Like many of you, the weather is often on my mind. And the seasons. As I’ve mentioned a few times I love fall. But we have barely had a summer! Oh it’s been hot a few times (here lately mostly). But it has been more fall-like than summer-like these past few months. But fall will come soon and relentlessly the season will turn.
How do we know what season it is? We can probably rattle off the signs of the seasons (snow and cold in winter, hot and green in the summer, for instance). Sometimes a single day or even week don’t fit the pattern. 50 degree days in January throw us off the mark, as do 50 degree nights in July. But the pattern of the days and nights… the appearance of the natural world around us… our sense of time and season are enough to assure is we know where we are.
How do we know such things about the church? How do we discern the season in which our church is living? Are we in a season of renewal and growth? Are we in a time of seeking and discerning? Are we in a period of decline and death?
It isn’t as simple as the recurring seasons of the year. Sometimes a single Sunday may make us think “Wow! We are really going places!” Another Sunday – sometimes the next Sunday – leaves us wondering “Wow! How did that happen so poorly?” But we can look at the consistent things (How many are showing up to worship? Who is in our classes and groups and ministries? How are people supporting various ministries with their time, their treasures, their talents? – and others like this).
I don’t have a clear answer myself to what season we are experiencing. But after a few years with you I am starting to ask the questions and wonder. Just as we need to know what season it is to know which clothes to pack away (and which ones to replace or bring out of storage), so the season of our church’s dictates where we should focus our efforts and what we need to do in response to the time and season and circumstances in which we find ourselves.