Oct 02, 2017


Know Your Season

Rudy Hartmann provides some insight on how to know your season of ministry and offers a simple process from transitioning from one season to the next.

1 Chronicles 12:32 “…the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…”

Seasons change.

You don’t have to be a part of this Collegiate Ministry tribe very long to understand that. I can still remember my first fall – and being so wrapped up in the lives of my students after finals week that it hadn’t struck me that while they would go home for winter break…I still had to be at church at 8:30am Monday.

What? Fall was over? How?

Simple. Seasons change. “Come and see” turns to “come and die.” Harvest time turns back to planting time. Fall is upon us – several of you are less than a month away from your Fall outreach and kickoff events. We have heard it said that Fall is harvest time – but what has summer been? What will Spring be? And don’t remind us about Winter. When will you shift from Summer-mode to Fall sprint?

I used to think it was just a mental switch I could flip – like starting a diet or workout routine. I would just go to sleep one night and wake up the next day all youthful and zealous and be like “OH YEAH, HERE WE GO. TIME TO GET HEALTHY AND RIPPED.”

That always lasts for about two days. Then I went back to “make that a large, please” and “I’m working out my mind in the Scriptures” mode. It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know where I wanted to end up. I didn’t look back at where I’d been. In the immortal words of Kevin Hart, “She wasn’t readddyyyyy.”

I’m coming to learn that it’s the same thing with the season-shift in ministry. We can run the risk of carrying the baggage of one season into the next – and that will always slow us down, distract us, and threaten to pull us off mission. When we have this baggage, vision is cloudy. We can find ourselves doing in one season what was clearly for the last season, but perhaps isn’t for the next one. Knowing our season and knowing what to do in it is, arguably, mission critical.

So how do we do it? How do we make the clean shift from one season to the next? How do we know our season and what it requires – and have the freedom to do that very thing?

I think there are a variety of ways – but one key is ending the previous season well. If you end one season well, you’re much more likely to begin the next season better! Now, I would hate to come off as thinking I know everything about this. I don’t. In fact, I’m still growing in this. But taking time at the end of a season to end it well through intentional reflection, processing, meditation, and resolution I have found great joy in closing one season and beginning the next and I do this by taking a morning for a personal retreat in which I reflect on the past season, process what I’ve learned, meditate on scripture and song, and resolve in response to the season. (That’s the simple breakdown, below you’ll find the one I did this summer.)

Finally, I would also hate for you to think that I was saying this from the balcony and not on the street. It is not as if I have created this thinking “perhaps it will help them.” Not in the least. I need this. I use this. I’ve benefited from this. I’ve just returned from two months overseas that were full of incredible and unexpected moments and am transitioning into leading a college ministry in context that is new to me in nearly every possible way. The process outlined below has been crucial in helping me start from a place of health.

Season-Shift Personal Retreat

4 Movements: Reflect, Process, Meditate, Resolve
Timespan: 3 Hours (8:30-11:30) at a table by yourself.
Needed: Bible, Journal, Pen, Calendar (Phone), whatever journal(s) you’ve been using to track and record your summer. Headphones recommended.

*Don’t read ahead. Take this one movement at a time. And slow down, slow down, slow down.

Movement 1 – Reflect
Today’s Readings (John 17:13-17) and Prayers.

Consider this sentence as you come before God: “The inevitable fruit of the knowledge of God is energy to pray for His causes – energy indeed which can only find an outlet and a relief of inner tension when channeled into such prayer – and the more knowledge, the more energy.” – J.I. Packer

Consider reading in such a way that you are compelled by the text to pray in light of the text as the Holy Spirit interprets what God is speaking to you through His Word.

This Season (May 18-July 21st)

Take out or pull up your calendar and take out your journal(s) that you’ve been using over summer.
Take it a week at a time, beginning with the week before we left ending with this week (9 Weeks). Walk through each week and remember, slowly.
For each week write one high, one low, and what God taught you through these – a unique gift, display of His kindness, exposed sin, ect. (try to keep it to a sentence or two here).

Movement 2 – Process
Re-read what God taught you each week and write these eight sentences.
Are there any common themes? Threads?
Circle/underline similarities between the weeks.

Based on this, what could be some of the overarching things God has taught you this last season? What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about others?
What are two relationships from the last season that you’re surprised by? Why?
What are two relationships from the last season that have suffered? Why?

What’s an idol that’s faded in this last season?
What idol was strongest in your soul this last season?

How did you become more aware of your sin in the last season? (Be specific)
How did you grow in your affection for Christ in the last season? (Be specific)

Who did you share the Gospel with in this last season?
Of these, who came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior?
Of these, who is growing in their relationship with Jesus?
Are there any of these people that you need to follow up with in the next season?

Which part of the Gospel did you most commonly forget this last season?
How did you rhythmically preach the Gospel to yourself?

Movement 3 – Meditation

  • Read Psalm 18.
  • Read it again.
  • Read it a third time (slow down).
  • Read it a fourth time.
  • Write out Psalm 18. (Give yourself 2 or 3 inch margins on either side.)
  • Read what you wrote.
  • Mark up your copied version of Ps 18. Underline, circle, take notes, etc. Write and reflect and muse as God speaks to you personally through the Psalm.
    • What does it seem like God is lifting off the page into your soul?
  • Pray through the Psalm – let Psalm 18 guide a time of prayer as you approach God.

What’s been the song that has most frequently filled your mind that’s stirred your affections for Christ this summer? The one you’d catch yourself humming or thinking often?
Write out the lyrics of this song (look up if necessary) and muse on them.
How has this stirred your affections?
What truths have been most sweet? Why?

Movement 4 – Resolve
You’ve read His Word.
You’ve prayed.
You’ve reflected.
You’ve processed.
You’ve meditated.
You’ve prayed some more.
Now consider this – in light of your summer, with a clear mind, and a stirred heart, how has God been revealing Himself to you this summer? What has he taught you about Himself? Yourself? The nations? Creation? The Gospel? The Word? His Spirit? Prayer? Missions? Write it out.

What has been cemented in your soul by this past season? Write out sentences based on what you’ve realized and recognized in this time that need to be your resolutions coming into the next season. Begin each sentence with “I resolve…”

After you’ve written your resolutions for the next season, write them again on their own sheet of paper. Keep them close – on your desk, on your mirror, etc. – somewhere you can read them each day and remember them through the next season.

about the author

Rudy Hartmann

Rudy Hartmann is a church planting candidate with the Salt Company in Ames, IA. He previously served in college ministry in Tampa, FL.