Establishing Sabbaticals in Your Conference part II

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These company logos and many more represent businesses that provide sabbatical leave for their employees. No, they are not Sabbatarian in their origin, but they believe in incentivizing the ingredient of resilience by offering sabbaticals to their workers.

 It’s no secret, sabbaticals done the right way yield wholistic staying power even for pastors.  In my last article I wrote, “among the care-giving professions benefiting from sabbaticals, pastors committed to the life-long journey in ministry may significantly thrive. One pastor did a search on the internet and found 26,000 renderings of pastor sabbaticals, so the subject is gaining momentum, and pastors are beginning to experience the benefits.  A sabbatical for a pastor can ensure optimistic staying power, balance in the ministerial approach, and long-term health, to name a few benefits.” 

Do you want to start a sabbatical program for your pastors in your conference? If so, here are a few recommended steps.

  1. Spend time talking with your administrative leadership about the sabbaticalsand share with themthe long-term benefits of establishing such an emphasis. (See part I of this article.)

  2. If your conference administration is supportive and would like to explore further,work on recommending the establishment of some parameters, and place them with secretariat to become actual policy.  These parameters should include who can take a sabbatical, what the length of the sabbatical should be, what the sabbatical time period should include, what happens at the local church while the pastor is on sabbatical, etc.

  3. Careful study should be given as to how many pastors at one time should be on sabbatical, and of course along with your conference treasurer, study should be given to its financial impact.

  4. The local church should not be in the dark regarding their pastor’s sabbatical.  Their journey with the pastor is essential in it benefitting both in the process of ongoing vibrant pastoral ministry. Conference ministerial directors should not leave communication to the congregation solely up to the pastor.  Conference communication and education about the sabbatical is very important to establishing partnerships with congregations during the sabbatical journey of pastors.

  5. A conference may establish a formal focus for the sabbatical with a prescribed checklist, or an informal focus allowing pastors to share ideas that would benefit them.

  6. An integration process should be established as the pastor returns to the congregation. Benefits received from the sabbatical should be shared by both pastor and congregation.  

Remember, sabbaticals are established to support healthy longevity of mind, body, and soul in the work of ministry.It is not the only way to support wholistic healthy longevity, but it is one way to do so. Here are three template documents (1, 2 and 3) that may help you establish your conference sabbatical.