This past Sunday I shared about Hub City's Sabbatical Summer. I will be taking a sabbatical May 16 - August 19. But this isn't just a sabbatical for me. It's a sabbatical for our church family. I believe God is going to do some great things in and through Hub City this summer.
There have been a number of resources that have been helpful to me in planning for this sabbatical.
Leading on Empty
Journeying toward Renewal
Five Reasons your pastor should take a sabbatical
The Darkside of Sabbaticals
Five reasons a pastor's sabbatical blesses everyone
Focus on the Family Sabbatical guide
Soul Shepherding - A Sabbatical guide for pastors
Why your pastor needs a sabbatical (and follow up blog posts)
Yes, your pastor needs a sabbatical
There are a ton of resources out there. I encourage you to google around and learn something new.
And let me reiterate, if you have questions please ask!
Summer sabbatical F.A.Q.s
Yesterday I posted the transcript of my sermon from Sunday sharing about Hub City's Sabbatical Summer. You can read it here. Below is the handout we gave to folks to answer questions.
The word sabbatical
has its roots in the biblical concept of Sabbath (to rest or to cease). Sabbath
keeping is setting aside time that God consecrates and makes holy.
is a time for our pastor to shift gears in order to rest, disengage, study,
reflect, and travel in order to return to minister among us refreshed and
renewed in body, mind and spirit. It is not a time for routine work, mid-career assessment, job
search, and not a vacation.
Sabbatical is more than a vacation from meetings,
budgets, sermons and people in need. It is a time for Jonathan to receive
spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective in order to deepen his
relationship with God, himself, and his family—a season of spiritual growth.
This special time
will also be a season of growth for the entire congregation. A secondary definition
of sabbatical is “a break or change
from normal routine.” This is what this summer is going to be for Hub City. We
have some strategic things that are going to happen that will help us become
healthier and stronger as a church.
How long with Jonathan be on sabbatical?
Sunday before the beginning of his sabbatical will be May 14. His first Sunday
back will be on August 20.
What will Jonathan be doing on Sabbatical?
Jonathan’s time will
be divided into three parts. First, there will be times of silence and solitude
for connecting to and hearing from God. Second, there will be times of travel
with family, revisiting places that were essential to his spiritual
development. Third, there will be times of learning and study.
Who will pay for the Sabbatical?
Jonathan has applied
for and received the Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lily Foundation. This money
will not only fund his sabbatical activities but also provides funds for the
intentional interim and church-health activities.
Will Hub City just be in a “holding pattern” while Jonathan is away?
Absolutely not! We
have some strategic activities planned to help the Hub City Church family grow
in relationships with each other, make more of a difference in this community
and grow as disciples of Jesus. It is important to remember that the sabbatical
is a two-way process: While Jonathan is on his journey of renewal, refreshment
and reflection, we will embark on a journey as well.
Will Jonathan be in contact with Hub City during his sabbatical?
An important part of
a sabbatical is to make a complete
break from things. The only people who will be in direct contact with Jonathan
while he is away will be his family.
Is there anything I can do for Jonathan?
The best thing you
can do is pray for him and his family. You can also lean into the Hub City
Church family. Give. Serve. Participate. Invite. Be the Church!
What if a question/concern arises while Jonathan is gone? Who do I
call if there’s a crisis? Who should I contact for prayer? Who will cover
Jonathan’s responsibilities during his absence?
Below is a list of “who’s
doing what” during Jonathan’s sabbatical.
Interim pastor – James Nugent
Pastoral care – James Nugent and Hub Group leaders
Prayer needs – Prayer team - Leslie Hendon
Scheduling and administration – Lisa Tillitson
Building maintenance and emergencies – Maintenance team - Dewayne
Landscape maintenance – Landscape team - Vaughn Pitts
Bulletin and Announcements – Host and Leslie/Lewis
Special events – Lizz Pitts
May 28: Memorial Day Cookout
July 2: Lake day after worship
August 20: Welcome back party
Hub City University – Mike Adler
Movies in the Park - Team Leader – Lewis Beard
May 15 – Leadership Community
May 16 – Sabbatical begins
May 20 – Movies in the Park
May 28 – Memorial day cookout/picnic
– Hub City University class
June 17 – Movies in the Park
June 19 – Leadership Community
– Hub City University class
July 15 – Movies in the Park
July 17 – Leadership Community
August 19 – Movies in the Park
August 20 – Welcome back party
August 21 – Leadership community
This schedule will cement further as we get
closer to the summer.
Hub City's Sabbatical Summer
I hope your week is off to a good start.
I know that the time change and snowpocalypse of this past Sunday kept many of
you away from worship. I missed you, but I don’t want you to miss out on what I
shared. It is too important. Below is the transcript of my talk. I’ve also
included a handout that supplements what I shared.
It’s an honor being your pastor. I’m
excited about the future!
comes to mind when you hear the word: Rest?
as a culture aren’t very good at rest. A few years ago Americans took the lead
for working more hours a year than any other industrialized nation. We also
take less vacation days than any other industrialized nation. We’re all about
go, go, go. Do, do, do. I would say we go so far as to assign value to people
based on what they produce, and we all know that in order to produce we have to
go and do. Rest gets in the way of that.
the truth is, we all need rest. We know this. God knows this. That’s why
he created us to work and to rest. Those two things go hand in hand. We’re
pretty good at the work part. We’re not that good at the rest part. Which is
why I’m really grateful for the invitation that Jesus gives in Matthew 11:28:
“Then Jesus said, “Come to
me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
you just love this invitation from Jesus? His invitation is for us to come to
him. Reminding us that we all need Jesus and that life doesn’t work apart from
him. Come to me, Jesus says.
then next Jesus directs his invitation at those who are weary and those who
carry heavy burdens. When Jesus says “weary” he is talking about those things
that intrinsically wear us out. Those pressures and expectations we put on
ourselves. Isn’t it true that too often we put unhealthy pressure and expectation
on ourselves at times to be something we’re not, do something we’re not
supposed to do, look a certain way? We’re awash in self-imposed pressure and we’re
tired. We’re weary.
word “burdens” describes outside pressures, those pressures and expectations
that are put on us by others, whether from a boss, or a spouse, or a teacher,
or a parent. You know the kind of outside pressure and expectation I’m talking
about. Some of you are living under pressure from others right now and it’s a
weight. It’s a burden. It’s weighing you down.
we are walking around with self-imposed burdens or carrying burdens imposed on
us by others, we all fit into at least one of those two groups, if not both
groups, Jesus invites us to himself. Why? So that he can give us rest.
know that many of you are here this morning carrying burdens. Some of them you
have put on yourself. Others are weights that have been put on you by others. This
morning, Jesus invites you to come to him. He wants to give you rest.
know if you realize it or not, but rest is a gift from God. In the Ten
Commandments we are commanded to rest, to take a Sabbath, but in the gospels
Jesus tells us that that Sabbath, that day of rest, is actually for us. It’s a
gift from God to us. I think it’s pretty cool that we serve a God who invites
us to come to him for rest.
that in mind as I share a story. It’s actually my story. It begins about a year
and a half ago, right after Hub City had just celebrated its 6th
been at the church planting and pastor thing for the past 10 years. We survived
one failed church plant and now, after seven years, God was doing some cool
things in and through Hub City Church. But I started to notice that my drive and
hunger weren’t as strong as they used to be. I was easily distracted. I was
having trouble focusing. In a word, I was feeling empty.
feeling of emptiness, like I was running out of gas, scared me. I loved being the
pastor of Hub City Church. I didn’t want to do anything else. So I decided that
I needed to do some research to figure out what was going on and come across
this book: Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordiero. The title grabbed my
attention because that described exactly how I felt.
really a book about Wayne’s journey to burnout, how he ended up burning out, and
what he did to move out of burnout to a new and fruitful season of ministry.
read through his symptoms of burnout I started to see those symptoms in me. And
I’ll be honest, this scared me to death. I have a few friends who went through
burnout and they either left the ministry all together, or were so scarred that
they were never the same. I didn’t want to go down that path. Like I said, I
love that God has called me to be the pastor of Hub City Church and I want to
be able to do this for a long, long time.
started to pray about what I needed to do to renew, and refresh and refill,
so that I could pastor with passion and hunger and drive for the next 7 years.
At this time, I also started to share what I was going through with some of our
leaders here at Hub City.
of the things that Wayne talked about was a sabbatical, and after talking with
some of Hub City’s leadership, we decided that I needed to take a sabbatical.
let me give you a definition for what a sabbatical is:
Sabbatical – A period of time during which one does not work at his
regular job and is able to rest, travel, refresh and renew. It’s a time for temporarily
stepping away in order to rest, disengage, study, reflect, and travel, so that
one can return to minister refreshed and renewed in body, mind and spirit.
let me let me tell you what a sabbatical is not: It is not a time for routine work, mid-career assessment, job search, and
let me emphasize that a sabbatical is not a vacation. It’s not a time for a pastor
to simply vacate. Craig Dykstra, Vice
President for Religion with the Lilly Foundation, says, “As important as
vacations are, something more is needed than just temporary escape (vacate-ion) from the daily
grind. What is needed is renewed connection with God.”
nutshell, a sabbatical is a period of time, usually three months, in which the
ministry leader and the congregation set aside the leader’s normal
the purpose of rest and spiritual refreshment, leading to renewed
energy and creativity for both the ministry leader and the church family.
means that you say to me: “Jonathan, we want you to be the best possible pastor
you can be. We want you to lead us and teach us and love us with as much
energy as possible. In order to help you do that, we want you take some
time away from the regular routine of your ministry. Take this time away,
spend it with God. Pray. Read the Bible. Read some good books. Rest. Travel.
And when you come back, we’ll be excited to see how this time away has drawn
you closer to God and prepared you to lead us into our next
season of ministry as a church.”
Scriptures are resonant with the spirit of sabbatical. Throughout the Old Testament God continues to remind
his people of the importance of Sabbath, a break from working. Even the
land is told to be given a Sabbath:
“The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say
to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must
observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six
years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh
year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not
sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” (Leviticus 25:1-4)
The Sabbatical year in the Bible is every
seventh year. The farmers and their land were called by God to
rest that year and God promised to provide. Clearly, the Sabbatical year
was a big step of trust in the goodness of the Lord to provide for his people.
The seventh-year renewal included
generosity for the needy, as the poor in the land were free to glean in the
fallow ground during the Sabbatical year. People who had sold themselves
into servitude were also given the blessing of a Sabbatical year; they worked
for six years, but on the seventh year they were given their freedom without
cost (Exodus 21:2-6). Similarly, debts were also canceled in the Sabbatical
year (Deuteronomy 15:1-6).
you can see, the Scriptures are resonant with the spirit
of sabbatical. It is really just a variant of the word, "Sabbath."
And it’s not a suggestion. It’s always as a command.
me return to my story. Remember, this ball started rolling in January of 2016.
We came up with a plan for me to take a sabbatical during the summer of 2017. This
would give our church time to prepare. This was before we knew anything about
merging Oak Grove and Hub City.
then the merge happened. The past few months have been a whirlwind, but it’s
been great. I love what John Sharpe said last Sunday at our membership class,
that this experience has been one of the most rewarding in his life. I feel the
same way. So we had to figure out if we were still going to move forward with
when we were still praying and seeking God about his will concerning this
merge, one of the reservations with the Hub City Leadership about the merge was
that it would impact my sabbatical. So we made a decision to move forward with
the original plan. And so this summer I am going to be taking a sabbatical.
The dates of my
sabbatical are going to be May 16 – August 19. My last Sunday before the start
of the sabbatical is Mother’s Day, May 14. My first Sunday back will be August
If you’re wondering what I’m going to be doing, my time will be divided
into three parts. First, there will be times of silence and solitude for connecting
to and hearing from God. Second, there will be times of travel with family, mainly
revisiting places that were essential to my spiritual development. Third, there
will be times of learning and study.
But here’s maybe the
most important thing of all for you: This
isn’t just a sabbatical for me. It is also for the church. There’s a
secondary definition of sabbatical: “A break or change from normal routine.”
This is what this summer is going to be for Hub City. We have some strategic
things that are going to happen, apart from me, that will help us become
healthier and stronger as a church.
Let me reiterate: Hub
City is NOT going to be in a holding
pattern this summer. It’s going to move
forward in being the church and
making disciples. This is why we are bringing in James Nugent, who many of you
know already, as our intentional interim. This is why we have some strategic
do you need to do as we look forward to and move through this sabbatical summer?
Pray: You need to pray. Pray for me, my family and for
our church family. In fact, I’m looking for volunteers who will pray for me, my
family and our church daily during the sabbatical. If you would like to be on
this important team please email me at email@example.com.
Lean in: You need to lean in to the Hub City Church family.
Whenever things are different or there is change our natural tendency is to
lean away, to pull away. Don’t do that. Lean in to your church family.
Serve: You need to serve. Things need to be done. You
should have a “whatever it takes” attitude. If you see a need, meet it. Step
up. There should be no gaps that go unfilled this summer.
Participate: You need to participate. This involves attendance,
but it is way more than attendance. It is active attendance.
Give: You need to give. We’re pretty healthy
financially. I want us to be even more healthy at the end of the sabbatical.
Invite: You need to invite people. I know you would never
do this, but some people think, “Well, I’ll just wait till the pastor gets back
before I invite people.” Can I just say that the last think I want is for Hub
City to become personality driven, to revolve around me. We are Jesus-driven.
He’s who we revolve around. I love what I do, but it’s not about me. It’s about
Jesus. So invite people.
Grow: You need to let God grow you through the
differentness of the summer. Things are going to be different for a few months.
They may be uncomfortable at times. God uses change and differentness and discomfort
to grow us.
to be the church.
So pray, serve, participate,
give, invite. Grow. Lean in. Be the church.
you have questions. We’ve created a handout that will answer some of your
questions. You can always talk with me. You will also notice on the handout a
list of “who’s responsible for what” and some tentative summer dates.
Remember, if you
would like to be on the sabbatical prayer team, please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the team.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am praying for
you. I appreciate you praying for me!