King Solomon wrote that life is full of differing seasons.
- A time to be born and a time to die.
- A time to weep and a time to laugh.
- A time for war and a time for peace.
Life provides the opportunity to walk through all of these polarized experiences.
Like life, the ministry has differing seasons.
In the ebb and flow of a local church’s ministry, a congregation will experience many different moments with very different needs. Solomon’s counsel should be observed regarding church ministry by all of us.
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted [Ecc. 3:2].
A Time to Plant
In ministry, there is a time to plant. We need to plant new churches. We should dream up new ministries. We should launch new partnerships.
Just remember that a plant means someone planted it outside of that which was planted.
Many church splits disguise themselves as church plants.
A church plant isn’t when you take the disgruntled half of a church and go down the road into a new building. A church plant isn’t when you build momentum by ridiculing other works.
Planting is good. Just ensure it is a plant. Someone is digging. Someone is watering. Someone watches over it until fruit comes up.
You see a barren place, and you want to see life sprout from the ground. Plant. Water. Grow. Harvest.
Planting is good.
A Time to Pluck
In addition, there are times to pluck. For all the growth that something may have had in the past, it does not guarantee continued health.
One of the hardest decisions is knowing when to pluck up a ministry that once was bountiful yet now is barren.
Sometimes churches, ministries, or programs have an end date. The universal Church will never close her doors, but some local churches need to from time to time. Some ministries have run their course. Some programs are no longer necessary.
Why would that be? Well, why would you pluck up a plant?
- It isn’t producing any fruit. If what you planted isn’t producing any fruit anymore, it ceases to serve its purpose. Honor the fruit given in the past, but if you don’t see the potential of it growing again, you know what needs to be done.
- Its sickness is endangering other growth around it. Sometimes a fungus on one plant can spread to all those around it. The same is true with ministries. Unfortunately, some ministries do more harm than good to the work of Christ in a community.
- It became overgrown. Sometimes plants and trees need to be uprooted because they outgrew where they were planted. They cover up. They lean too close. They can’t sustain themselves because of their location. Some ministries grew too big and the environment around it can’t sustain it any longer.
- It isn’t in season. Some plants go dormant. It isn’t their season. Many ministries served a great purpose for a great time, but it just isn’t that time anymore. Discontinuing something doesn’t mean you are disregarding its impact.
- It was put in the wrong place. Some things would thrive if they had the right shade and space. While frustrated by the lack of growth, it would thrive in a different location. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a plant and a ministry is to pluck what is there and move it to a more conducive environment.
There is a time to plant.
There is a time to pluck.
Use prayerful discernment to know what each season calls for you to do. Regardless of which one you are called to do, take your time.
Don’t destroy the entire landscape as you seek to pick out a few weeds.
For everything, there is a season. Keep your spiritual eyes open to know what season it is.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.