encouraging a unified worship experience


20120721-171611.jpg-sabbatical |səˈbatikəl|noun

a period of paid leave granted to for study or travel,traditionally every seventh year.

I arrived at Fayetteville First Baptist in June of 2005. This June will mark 8 years. A few years back, the church elected that for every 7 years of service, pastoral staff receive a 1 month of paid sabbatical. What a blessing!

During my time off, I was able dig deeper into scripture through prayer and time alone. It was great to have uninterrupted time to dive deeper into my doctoral project and get much research and writing accomplished. I was encouraged as I visited other churches to see how they operate and "borrow" some ideas. Finally we took a few days and joined with another family for some time relaxation time with "the Mouse".

Times of withdrawing have a biblical basis. Luke 4:42 records, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.” (Luke 4:42 NIV). That is just one of several verses showing that even Jesus needed time away. The idea of a sabbatical comes in part from Exodus 23:10-11. “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.” God understood the need of refreshing and rejuvenation, but sadly we humans often forget this importance.

I have been back at work for 2 weeks now and while there are many things to catch up on, I have noticed that I have a renewed vision and spirit for my ministry here. Ideas I gleaned while on sabbatical, I am now beginning to implement and watch them take root.

Of course when I was planning this, I thought "can I really get away and leave things to run on their own"? Fortunately for me, I am blessed with a wonderful worship staff that handled everything! And the gentleman that directed the first three weeks did a great job as well. I enjoyed my time off, but as anyone called into a vocation understands, you want to be "doing"! While I missed the great people I serve with and the wonderful staff here at FFBC, most of all I missed leading in worship and using the gifts God has given me.

I would encourage any pastoral staff member to approach your church about implementing a period of sabbatical. It is refreshing and rejuvenating both for the pastor and the church.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?