We often think of a person who follows Christ as being called into a ministry and working the rest of their lives on that singular path, sowing into and harvesting from that one area alone until God calls them home and (we all dream) they hear Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:23) with a gentle smile that showers us in His loving affection.
We picture Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt through the wilderness until his dying day at the edge of the Promised Land. Or Paul leaving the Damascus road with eyes opened, planting churches all across Europe until his execution ended his ministry on this mortal coil.
When I hear of a pastor or missionary – someone in full-time ministry – leaving their position to become an accountant or an insurance salesman… a school teacher, I assume you react like I do, wondering, “What happened?”
But then I’m reminded that God sometimes calls people to serve Him in a specific ministry for a season. To do His work and proclaim His Word for a specific time and then return to "normal" life. While they don't leave the faith or stop living as an example for Christ, they don't serve in the same capacity as before either. Prophets like Haggai (one year) or Zechariah (two to three years) spoke God's Word for only a brief period. God lifted up judges to rescue His people from oppression, and many returned to their daily lives once they raised the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
Jesus probably provides our best example of the “ministry season” phenomenon, serving for three years as a rabbi before leaving His earthly ministry for a heavenly one as our advocate. (Romans 8:34)
These seasonal cycles resonate deepest when reading Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
There is a time for everything. You may minister in one place and one way for a lifetime. If you don’t, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of God’s will or any less His devoted servant. Your time of faithful service may simply be done.
Which brings us to MORF Magazine. Over the last four years, we have been honored to publish web and print articles on spiritual formation – the building blocks of a life devoted to becoming more like Christ and sharing His transformative Gospel message with the world. Tens of thousands of youth ministers, parents and volunteers have read and shared these articles, and we pray they have built you up personally along with the Body as a whole.
MORF Magazine #14, which is available to view or download here, will be our last issue. All four years of magazines, articles, newsletters and blogs will remain accessible indefinitely, and you will always be able to download full digital copies of the magazine at studentlifestore.com
It has been a joy serving our readers. While we all feel MORF has been an invaluable resource to youth ministers, parents and volunteers, our season of ministry must end as our publisher, Student Life, focuses all of its ministry energy on hosting the highest quality summer camps possible in order to bring God’s Word center stage and share the Gospel with the greatest amount of people.
While it's sad to see this particular season end, I will be forever grateful to Student Life for allowing us to make MORF Magazine a vibrant reality. I am in awe of art director Laurel-Dawn McBurney's incredible gift for creating a beautiful magazine that belongs on any coffee table in America. I am also in debt to managing editor Jenna DeWitt, who worked with our incredible contributors to keep the constant flow of articles and youth ministry information flowing to our readers through blogs, tweets, newsletters and magazine issues.
MORF would never have become a premiere youth ministry magazine without their inimitable gifts and hard work.
Thank you for joining us during this season of ministry. I pray MORF has been a helpful resource to you personally and in your ministry. We appreciate any prayers you have for our team as we transition into whatever season God has prepared for each of us.
Bryan Belknap joined Student Life as creative director for MORF in 2011. Author of eight books and numerous videos, he has written for Lionsgate, Sony, GROUP and Relevant, among others, and been a featured speaker/teacher at conferences across the country. He currently serves as an elder at Shades Valley Community Church. He is married to Jill and they have a son, Cash.