General Council of the Assemblies of God
Sabbatical Consideration for Pastors and District Leaders
The Executive Presbytery recommends this sabbatical development model for local churches and district offices. The length of a sabbatical is to be based on the tenure of the minister, the minister’s credibility, the felt needs of the minister and church or district, the financial situation of the church or district, and the availability of other leaders to fill the minister’s role during the minister’s absence.
Scripture shows that God created people with a need for balance and structure. It is important that ministers maintain spiritual, physical, social, and mental health. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). According to Jesus, “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). Six days of work and one day of worship and rest per week is God’s formula for people to practice (Exodus 35:2). Every 7th year was to be a year of rest for the land. In addition, the Year of Jubilee was to be practiced in Israel every 50 years to give the land opportunity to rest. While the land was given these times of rest, it is clearly implied that workers would not be doing their customary work during those times (Leviticus 25:1–12). In a high-stress and pressure-filled culture, times of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional rejuvenation are essential. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for sabbaticals, the principle is that ministers need time to be refreshed and renewed.
Sabbaticals provide an extended period of spiritual rest, study, and renewal for ministers who give so much of themselves week in and week out, year after year. A sabbatical is an extended time away from the normal routine of ministry and daily life. A sabbatical is a separate time away from the minister’s ministry assignment and not considered as the minister’s vacation time. A sabbatical should be viewed as a time of healing, restoration, and renewal in body, mind, spirit, and vision.
Church Board Or Presbytery Responsibility
- Review the sabbatical timetable and usage plan as submitted by the minister.
- Mediate any concerns of the church, district, or minister regarding the sabbatical.
- Determine who will moderate, lead, and minister in church or district functions in the minister’s absence.
- Determine, in consultation with the minister, the length of the sabbatical based on the tenure of the minister.
- Consideration may be given to adopting a graduated financial support structure for sabbaticals (example: $X00 per year times the number of years of tenure with a maximum of $X,000).
- Present a sabbatical plan to the church board for approval and input.
- Provide a contact source if needed.
- Provide a written plan for caring for the needs of the church doing the sabbatical.
- Share highlights of the sabbatical with the church on completion.
- Receive for approval the minister’s proposal for a sabbatical, preferably 6 months in advance.
- Communicate to the congregation the importance and value of a sabbatical to the minister and church.
- Request a written overview of the sabbatical from the minister when he returns.
Typical Sabbatical Projects
- Continuing education at an accredited institution.
- Travel to other churches to receive fresh ideas and vision.
- A prayer/planned reading retreat.
- Attendance at various short-term seminars in areas of interest.
- A trip to a spiritual renewal center.
- Minisabbaticals or getaways at a district conference center or college dorm when space is available.
Note: A sabbatical’s length can vary.
Gary R. Allen, Chairman