I’ve been talking about the necessity of sabbatical, and I realize if you’re the pastor of a small church, you’re probably thinking there’s no way this could ever work for you. But I want to encourage you to give it some thought, and be a little creative.
To take a month off, one option might be to say, “I’ll preach twice this month, and I have friends that will come and fill in the other two weeks, and I won’t be available at all during those four weeks.” Then prepare those two sermons before your month off, so they’re done. Connect with two friends who are pastors or teachers, who would give you one Sunday each. And then let the day-to-day operations go. And say, I’m going to take this month off from the daily grind, my sermons are already prepped, I’ll be here two Sundays and all I’ll do is preach.” And that’s it. You commit yourself to that.
Here are some other options. Go to your denominational leader and ask how they could partner with you, or what they could provide. As Superintendent of the Friends Southwest conference, I would love it if someone came to me and said, “Hey, I’m taking a month sabbatical, can you as a denomination help fill the pulpit for me?” Think about your team and your ministry network and get creative. You can figure out ways to create space, you just have to plan for it. Choose a time that makes it easier – maybe in July when attendance drops a little and people are traveling. Your friends are also on vacation and could come and preach for you. You just have to think differently.