This year is my 28th year on staff at CityLife Church and my 18th as Senior Minister. It's been quite a journey and I am thankful for all that God has done during this time and for the support of our congregation and leadership team.
In discussion with the Elders and our senior staff, there was agreement that I would benefit from taking an extended sabbatical this year. A sabbatical isn't a holiday. It's a time of disengagement from the normal aspects and pressures of ministry life in order to spend time in replenishment, reflection and learning for the next stage of life and ministry. [Click here for more information about the concept of a sabbatical]
I will take a 12-week sabbatical from the beginning of March through to the middle of May (2 weeks of which will be annual leave for some holidays). During this time the church will be well looked after by our local leadership. Our teaching team will be speaking on the weekend, along with some excellent visiting ministry.
What will I do on my Sabbatical?
The outcomes I desire are a replenishment of my spiritual and emotional world and a sharpening of my vision for the church and my own calling to ministry. The first half of my sabbatical will focus on my personal and spiritual well-being. It will include a combination of prayer, extended times with God, reflection, spiritual retreats, and time with some of my mentors. The second half of my sabbatical will focus on my ministerial development. I will make use of a study plan focused on topics such as Jesus and his mission, the church, leadership, contemporary culture, and preaching, as well as more extended time in prayer and the Scriptures. [Of course, if God wants to have me only do the first half stuff the entire time, then that's fine with me!]
For this to be most effective, I will be fully disengaged from church life (weekend meetings, staff meetings and email). Weekends and evenings will be times for me to sow back into my own family as well as my friendships. I will also take up some more recreational pursuits during these times – things I have little or no time for at the moment with weekends always being so full.
What about the church? I have full confidence that the church will flourish during this time. In fact, it can be a maturing time for both the congregation and myself.
I would like to thank the Elders and senior staff for their kindness in releasing me for this time. Personally, I am really excited about this time and believe that it will be instrumental in ensuring that I continue to be full of God's vision and passion for our next season together. My desire is to return refreshed and with greater energy, with increased confidence, with deeper reservoirs from which to draw from, as well as an even greater sense of joy and delight in my calling.