A Time to Rest…
One of the examples we see in the Bible of a healthy and godly lifestyle is making time to rest. God rested after he created the world. One of his commandments is to remember the day of rest and keep it holy. In the New Testament we see Jesus often withdrawing alone to be with the Lord. Rest is part of the way God designed us, and is important for balance, health and vibrancy. This fall, Pastor Stan will get the chance to rest and rejuvenate through a time of sabbatical. He will be away from the church and ministry this September – December, returning in January. He has served our church body faithfully for the past eight years, including leading us through the COVID-19 crisis. We want to bless and honor him by allowing him to take time away to be restored and refreshed, ready for the next season of ministry.
A Kairos Moment
In the Greek, there are two words for time. Kronos refers to chronological time. But Kairos refers to “a time the Lord has ordained,” or a specific season brought about by the Lord (see Mark 1:15). We are praying that these months of the sabbatical are a “Kairos moment” not only for Pastor Stan but for the elders, staff and our church family. We believe the Lord has ordained this season as a time of refreshment and renewal. We want to reflect on the challenges of the last few years, while seeking God’s will for what’s next. The elders are calling the church to prayer, repentance and reflection in order to be intentional with this appointed time from the Lord.
Why is a sabbatical necessary?
A sabbatical is a planned period of time for a ministry leader to step away from the responsibilities of ministry in order to rest, connect with family and the Lord, and be re-energized. We believe this is a good and healthy practice, both for ministry leaders and for the church. Pastor Stan has been at Eastminster more than eight years without an extended period of rest. These last years have been a challenge for Stan and for the church. We want the best for Stan, his ministry and his family. Our Senior Pastor, whoever it may be, needs periodic, extended time to refocus, rejuvenate and re-evaluate. Often leaders come away from sabbatical with a fresh sense of the Lord’s calling, re-invigoration for ministry, and a new perspective on their work.
But there is much more. As we move ahead following the pandemic years, we believe this is an opportunity – we hope a “Kairos moment” – for Session and this church to seek God’s face, repent of any sins, and humbly re-present ourselves and this ministry for His Holy purposes.
So, Pastor Stan’s sabbatical and the coaching initiative both Pastor Stan and Session are committed to are investments being made in the future God has for his church here at Eastminster and will mark, we pray an earnest pursuit of the face of God for everyone.
How long is the sabbatical?
Pastor Stan’s sabbatical will last four months, September – December. He will rejoin us in January 2023.
What does a sabbatical mean for the church as a whole?
This is a Kairos moment – a God-appointed time – for not only Pastor Stan but for our elders, staff and church family.
We hope the church body uses this time to pray and intercede for the church – including repenting of corporate sin, praying for God’s direction as we step into a new season, and a renewed sense of unity and vigor among the body. It will also offer the opportunity to connect more with many talented staff members at Eastminster.
For staff, this is an opportunity to grow in church leadership as they step into new opportunities of ministry. It’s a chance to explore how God may use them differently going forward. Some staff are also being coached by J.R. Briggs during this time.
For the elders, we will use this period to strengthen and clarify the calling of session through coaching from J.R. We hope to learn how to work with staff more effectively, how to better engage with and serve the congregation, and to grow as a Session in seeking the heart and mind of Christ.
What will Stan do on sabbatical?
Pastor Stan’s main goal during sabbatical will be to rest. This may take many forms, but we want him to be free of responsibility during this time. He will not interact with the church or check communication channels like email while he’s away. To simply rest might be harder than you think when you’re used to the rigors of ministry, so to guide him Pastor Stan will meet periodically with a coach, J.R. Briggs (see the next question for more info). He will help Pastor Stan process his time away and the things the Lord will show him.
There are four components of sabbatical:
- Bodily/Physical renewal – Pastors don’t often get extended periods of rest, so this will be a chance to reset and renew his body. Often pastors are running on adrenaline, perhaps without even realizing it, and a sabbatical offers the opportunity to operate differently. Pastor Stan will also take the time to address some physical issues he faces – please pray specifically that his back, knee and wrist will be healed during this time.
- Spiritual renewal – Sabbatical offers the opportunity for Pastor Stan to connect with God in a deep way and seek his call for his remaining years of ministry. He’s answering the question, “What does Stan look like fully connected to God and fully alive?”
- Relational and emotional renewal – This will be a chance to take time for important relationships in Stan’s life. There will be time for renewal in his marriage, as well as connection with his kids, who don’t live close by. He’ll also get the chance to acquaint himself with grandchildren who have been born to him in the last few years.
- Intellectual renewal – In addition to continued coaching with J.R., Pastor Stan plans to attend several conferences and seminars. He also plans to tackle an extensive reading list – nearly 5,000 pages! (See the last question for more details.)
Who Is J.R. Briggs?
Since sending a pastor on sabbatical is something new to the church, the elders have enlisted the help of a leadership coach to guide both Pastor Stan and session through this season. J.R. Briggs of Kairos Partnerships is a former pastor, a teacher of practical theology at a Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and a guest instructor in the Friends University Spiritual Formation program. Since 2011 he has spent most of his time serving as a coach to ministries, pastors and faith leaders all over the country. He has coached numerous pastors in planning for sabbatical, walked with them through sabbatical and accompanied them upon reentry to their ministry. J.R. comes highly recommended, and we have enjoyed getting to know him. We have found him to be a compassionate, wise and experienced straight-shooter. You can learn more about J.R. here >>
In addition to walking with Pastor Stan through the sabbatical, and providing coaching for several other staff members, we also hope J.R. can coach the session through thinking seriously about its role in ministry and its stewardship of Eastminster Church. Do we love staff and the congregation well? Do we fulfill our ministry responsibilities effectively under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Can we do better? We hope to explore these questions during the “kairos season” of the sabbatical.
Is this like an academic sabbatical? What’s the difference?
An academic sabbatical typically involves teaching at a different school, writing a book or completing a major research process. A ministry sabbatical is much different in that there is no expectation except to rest. The absence of tasks and obligations is the goal, in order to be refreshed and rejuvenated.
Who will lead while Stan is away?
While Pastor Stan is away, his duties will be distributed among the ministry staff. Pastor Mike Goolsby will provide pastoral care. He is gifted in meeting the needs of our congregation, providing prayer, visitation and care, and making sure any physical and spiritual needs in the body are met. Kim Case will assist with any staff needs. Preaching will be done by both guest speakers and our teaching staff (see the next question for more info).
Who will preach? What can I expect on Sundays?
The Lord has gifted Eastminster with a wonderful teaching staff! During the 17 Sundays of the sabbatical, preaching responsibilities will be divided among both guest preachers and our preaching staff. Our staff will focus on a series on discipleship during this time. Watch for more details – the preaching schedule will be available soon.
Sundays will look largely the same as usual, but you might see more of our ministry staff or elders up front assisting in the worship services.
Who do I contact if I have questions or need pastoral care?
Can I contact Pastor Stan? Will session be in contact with him?
During this time we ask that you do not reach out to Pastor Stan. We want to allow him to fully remove himself from the world of ministry as much as possible. He will be very “unplugged” and will not check email. We ask that you not reach out via text or phone call either. If you need care or help, please call the church office to connect with another ministry leader.
The elders as a whole will also not be in contact with Pastor Stan, except a designated liaison who will check in with him periodically.
If I see Pastor Stan out and about, what do I do? Can I talk to him?
If you see Pastor Stan while you’re out and about, feel free to say hello! He would love to talk with you. The only thing we ask is that you do not talk about the church with him. Think of your conversation as a “ministry-free” zone. Sometimes it’s easy to think of pastors as only that, but did you know Pastor Stan has many other interests? You might ask him about gardening, or travel, geology or his new grandbabies!
How can I pray during this time?
We’re so glad you asked! Prayer is key during this time period, as we want to ask the Lord’s blessing on both Pastor Stan and the church. Here are the four prayer points we will focus on:
- Pray for Pastor Stan to be refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated from his time of reflection and revitalization.
- Pray Pastor Stan would be drawn closer than ever to God, that God would renew and affirm Pastor Stan’s love for Him and for ministry.
- Pray Eastminster Session, staff and congregation would earnestly and faithfully seek God’s will for Eastminster.
- Pray all who come to Eastminster would see God’s hand clearly moving in a congregation that seeks to please and glorify God.
Will there be updates from Pastor Stan while he’s away?
Yes! Pastor Stan will provide brief updates occasionally during the sabbatical. These will go out via email in our regular eNews, so keep an eye on your inbox. If you’re not subscribed you can sign up here >>
Will other pastors also receive a sabbatical?
Yes, we hope to provide our other pastoral staff a time of sabbatical rest once they have served the church for several years. There are no set plans at this time, but we do hope to offer this in the future.
What does Pastor Stan plan to read while he’s away?
The Coach Model by Keith Webb
Interior Castles by St. Teresa of Avila
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Next: Pastoral Succession That Works by William Vanderbloemen
Dante’s The Divine Comedy
Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
John Adams by David McCullough
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
Pensees by Blaise Pascal
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Holy Rule of St. Benedict
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck
The Pastor by Eugene Peterson
Annals of the Former World by John McPhee
Q&A with the elders
Sunday, June 26, following the 9:30 & 11 a.m. services | Chapel
Join Charity Schaulis and other elders for a time to ask questions and learn more about what to expect during the sabbatical.
Have more questions?
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Charity Schaulis, who is the spokesperson on behalf of session during the sabbatical. She would be happy to talk with you! You can reach her at 619.9690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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