What's Our Policy on Sabbaticals?
I thought I’d share with you exactly what our sabbatical policy is here at Northminster, as well as San Diego Presbytery’s policy. You can find both policies at the bottom of this post.
San Diego Presbytery’s Sabbatical Policy
I’m not sure how long the presbytery has had their policy in place, but I do know that they just updated it last year to clarify some of the details as well as to emphasize the significance of sabbaticals for the health and well-being of the church. The policy states that one of the key purposes of the sabbatical is to “improve the pastor’s quality of service to the church” and allow the pastor to resume “pastoral duties with renewed skill, enthusiasm, and energy.”
Northminster’s Sabbatical Policy
Last spring, Northminster’s Session (board of elders) put a sabbatical policy in place for the first time in Northminster’s history. This step was taken in response to a growing recognition that pastoral and congregational ministry is more effective when the pastor has time to refresh his (or her) spirit and to renew their passion for ministry.
Northminster’s sabbatical policy states that the purpose of the sabbatical is to provide pastors the opportunity to:
- Step away from the obligations of church life and servant ministry.
- Have the opportunity to engage in a period of spiritual reflection and renewal.
- Return with a new energy and clarity about the tasks and challenges ahead.
- Provide space for intentional exploration and reflection and for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.
It’s Not Just About the Sabbatical
Maybe you picked up on this as you read the above paragraphs, but the purpose of the sabbatical has to do with more than the just the time period of the sabbatical.
Yes, the purpose is absolutely to provide a time of spiritual refreshment.
But it’s also about what happens when the sabbatical is over. It’s about “resuming pastoral duties with renewed skill, enthusiasm, and energy.” It’s about returning “with a new energy and clarity about the task and challenges ahead.”
A sabbatical isn’t just about giving the pastor some time off. It’s about looking at the big picture and recognizing the importance of sabbatical for the long-term health and vitality of the whole church.