Does Ministry Divide Into Three Year Seasons?

Ministry work isn’t a straight line, is it? It’s not a consistent trajectory of growth or decline. Neither “We’ve always done it this way” or”This is a brand new experiment” tell the whole story of life in a context of ministry over the long haul.

February 1st will mark three years for me at my present call, and I’m wondering if a three year cycle isn’t a helpful construct for thinking about ministry, because there are things I took to be a trajectory in 2016 and 2017 and 2018 that are not shaping up to continue into 2019, and when I think back over my previous call (which lasted for eight years) it feels like dominant foci emerged and receded in roughly three year stretches.

If there’s any truth to this, then we should take a provisional view of whatever we’re working on right now. Is it growing and filled with excitement? Give it a few years. Is it on life support? It doesn’t have to live forever. The three year (or six year or nine year or . . . ) mark in a ministry or a call can be a useful moment to dream about the next trio of trips around the sun: what could start? What could end?

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