Dear Church, June, 2019
Thank you for the incredible blessing of being your pastor! It has been a good year and we believe the Holy Spirit has been directing us and leading us toward the mission and vision of the church in glorifying Jesus, loving others and making disciples. It is a good season, and that brings me to the reason I’m taking a sabbatical. Life moves in seasons and one area of growth for me (and for our church) is running at the pace, rhythms and rest God sets for us.
As I have shared with you, I will be taking a sabbatical beginning July 1. A sabbatical is not a vacation, though during that time our family will be taking a short vacation. A sabbatical is not for strategy-building, though I would expect the Lord to give some clear direction for my own life, family and the church. Let me briefly share what our collective thoughts are about taking a sabbatical.
At the time of creation God rested on the seventh day. God has also set precedent for rest by commanding that every seventh day be a day of rest, a Sabbath day. Likewise, every seventh year for the nation of Israel was a Sabbath year, a time for rest and renewal. These Sabbath times provided for opportunities to renew, recreate and re-center their lives. In the ever-increasing pace we see in this world, one must discipline oneself to enter into Sabbatical periods.
The Elders of ReGeneration Church have decided it is a good thing to provide for its pastors to take a sabbatical leave so that they may return to the church with a renewed vision, new energy, and a greater effectiveness. Even secular companies, universities and organizations are recognizing the benefit of sabbaticals for refreshment, creativity and productivity. However, there are differences in what a sabbatical is for each university, church or company. For a more detailed explanation of a pastoral sabbatical, click on this link è https://www.soulshepherding.org/sabbatical-guide-pastors/
The three primary goals to be served by our sabbatical policy are:
Renewal: The sabbatical time is a time to step back from the continuous responsibilities of church work, to renew and replenish the reservoirs of creativity and spirituality, and to see refreshment and renewal through a change of environment and respite from routine. The serotonin levels in our brains, which produce an analgesic effect for recovery mentally and emotionally is replaced by adrenaline when it becomes depleted. It can only be recharged like a trickle charge to a dead car battery. You can't jump start it with one week of an incredible vacation like jump starting a battery. It takes a length of time that is continuous. A true sabbatical must have a continuous break for a good amount of time.
Reflection: The sabbatical time should also be a time of reflection. Through prayer and meditation participants should seek to refocus on God, and discern areas in their life where God is moving and changes may be necessary.
Relationship: It is our hope that the sabbatical will lead to a deeper relationship with Jesus that is not based on productivity, and function, but on identity in Christ. While this important for every Christian - the spiritual, emotional and physical health of a pastor affects the health of the church significantly. Our prayer is that sabbaticals lead to a refreshed recommitment to Jesus and ministry at ReGeneration, perhaps with a new direction born of reflection, and with new energy.
Readiness: Reading, meeting with a mentor or coach, taking a class or attending conferences may be a part of the Sabbatical to help the pastor continue to grow in pastoral competency and equipping. While this is not the primary reason for the sabbatical, these activities may be helpful for refreshment and continued growth.
All ordained full-time pastors are eligible to participate in the sabbatical program once every seven years. The sabbatical time is to be scheduled at the convenience of the church and the pastor.
Pastoral staff may take a sabbatical of up to ten consecutive weeks for every 7 years of full-time pastoral employment by the church. If the proposed sabbatical is for less than ten weeks, the unused number of weeks may not be accumulated and used after the sabbatical year.
SCHEDULING SABBATICAL TIME
Sabbaticals must be scheduled and approved at least six months in advance of the planned time-off. An eligible pastor must submit a written request to the ReGeneration Board of Elders for a sabbatical leave stating the preferred time period, the purpose, a proposal as to how his responsibilities will be covered during the absence, and the amount of any earned vacation time to be taken with the sabbatical.
Pastors taking the sabbatical shall assure ReGeneration Church of continued service to the church for at least one full year from the conclusion of the sabbatical. The service shall be at the same level as was being provided prior to the start of the sabbatical.
REPORT ON RETURN
Upon completion of the sabbatical, the pastor taking the sabbatical shall provide a written report summarizing the sabbatical, and the degree to which the sabbatical goals were reached. This report shall be prepared within 30 days from the end of the sabbatical and presented to the ReGeneration Church Elders.
I’m praying that this sabbatical is not only healthy for me and my family, but for the church family as we hold on to the fact that Jesus is the Senior Pastor of the church and there are many who are gifted and called who will be able to do the work of the ministry. Thank you for your support and for your part in serving in the body of Christ.
Looking to Jesus,
P.S. The detailed plan for my time away is below.