Hello CrossPointe family,

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the start of summer! I wanted to write a quick blog post in case you are looking for a bit of a refresher on the sabbatical details for my family and me, or you’re someone who is new to CrossPointe and wondering why the Lead Pastor never seems to show up for work! So here’s a bit of a recap.

To begin with, I’m not sure what comes to mind for you when you hear of a pastor taking a sabbatical, but I want to assure you this is simply a proactive step the elders have granted me in the hopes of gospel faithfulness and fruitfulness over the long haul at CrossPointe. And though my family and I are excited about this upcoming time of rest and renewal, I also have a bit of sadness because I am enjoying what has been a sweet, refreshing season as a church. However, as I recently completed my 13th year as Lead Pastor at CrossPointe, and almost 24 years of vocational ministry, it became a growing conviction, as a matter of obedience, that I needed to ask for a sabbatical. I am extremely grateful to the elders and staff who have not only granted this but are taking on additional responsibilities in my absence. My sabbatical will begin on Monday, May 30 and conclude on Monday, August 22.

The What and Why of Sabbatical

Since this is new for all of us, I will be working with a ministry that provides sabbatical coaching throughout my time away. The following information is taken from their website:

Sabbatical is a time when typical work activity is suspended for the purpose of attending to one’s soul. Sabbatical was honored by our Lord when he “went apart” from the crowds and His ministry to them. He understood the time alone facilitated a work of the Spirit that can only be done in solitude.

Unfortunately, sabbaticals are often misunderstood. The time is filled with mission trips, study leaves, extended ministry preparation for preaching, teaching, or program development. These are not the ingredients of sabbatical even if one is “away” from one’s primary ministry. If one spends “sabbatical” time doing ministry related work the sabbatical will not yield its needed blessing. This is the reason most ministry leaders must have a sabbatical “guide” who holds them accountable for how their sabbatical is structured.

A sabbatical has 3 goals: REST, RECALIBRATION, and RE-ENTRY (They had me at alliteration)

1. REST — Rest is needed because the demands of doing ministry well are exhausting. Even when ministry leaders take a day a week away from work and a day a month in retreat, an extended sabbatical time is needed.

2. RECALIBRATION — Sabbatical rest is not an end in itself. The leader must be recalibrated so as to return to ministry with a different mind-set. One must experience the presence of Christ in a way that fosters a greater trust and discernment of His will for life and ministry. To facilitate recalibration the spiritual coach will guide the sabbatical experience (via phone, Skype, or in person). The coach may offer Scripture passages for meditation, ways to engage in contemplative prayer and suggestions for journaling. The coach will be a spiritual mentor helping the one on sabbatical hear Christ’s invitation as to how the soul needs to be recalibrated for future ministry. Contact with the coach is usually every two weeks.

3. RE-ENTRY — Often pastors are dangerously tired when they go on sabbatical. Our goal is to help them avoid a similar situation in the future. We work hard to develop a “way of being” for the pastor re-entering his responsibilities so that he does not wind up in the same place. This includes an evaluation of issues like control, delegation, trust, self-worth and service. We work with the elder board as well to develop realistic expectations of what the pastor can and should do in the future.

If you’d like to better understand the why of sabbaticals, let me encourage you to listen to this short podcast on Apple Podcasts or on the web.

Details and Plans (May 30 – August 22)

By God’s grace and provision, we have a schedule that will allow us some dedicated travel time away from home. Our travels include the following:

  • A couple of shorter Florida beach trips
  • 12 days in the mountains of North Carolina
  • A week in Colorado celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary
  • We will conclude our time by bringing our oldest up to Hillsdale College for the start of her freshman year

As always, if you need anything, the elders and staff are here to serve you. You can send an email to elders@cp.church or click here to find contact info for the staff.

Finally, I want to close with the words of the Apostle Paul, where he expressed his great affection and thanksgiving for a local church as well as his extreme confidence that Jesus will be faithful to His promises and His church.

3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:3-6 (CSB)

CrossPointe family, I am so thankful for your partnership in the gospel and I am confident that Jesus will continue to work in and through you all! Thank you again for allowing my family and me this time away. I am expectant of what God will do, and yet I will miss seeing you all and participating in our normal rhythms as a church family. Please know I am praying often for you, and my family and I would covet your prayers for us. I look forward to my first Sunday back (August 28) and sharing how God worked in and through this time of sabbatical. I also can’t wait to hear how God worked in and through you all during this time!

Grace & Peace,