What is it and What are the benefits?


Most every minister and church has heard about sabbaticals, but few if any can fully explain what it is other than spending time away from one’s occupation.


What is a Sabbatical?   One person describes a sabbatical as giving a person a healthy amount of time to enhance their academic qualifications, pursue new interests, do volunteer work, travel, address physical concerns, or re-prioritize their life and career. It's an opportunity to manage the effects of professional burnout. 


Advantages of a Sabbatical:

  • Pastor may return rejuvenated and often feel like they have a new job, purpose, or new direction.  Many pastors may perform their role routinely day in and day out, can experience burnout or feel unmotivated to perform their duties.  An extended time away is the perfect way for a pastor to recharge and come back to work with renewed focus.  One person wrote, "They are giving me the opportunity to have some reflection time and rejuvenate.  It also allowed me to evaluate my goals and effectiveness as a pastor.” 
  • Pastors find inspiration for new ways to grow the church.   The time away is well spent in research, going to other churches to attend or speak with other pastors, expand their education, or time alone in prayer and meditation that is often interrupted when conducting normal duties. 
  • Pastors can focus on personal and church goals. Pastors may not be able to do this separately when they are so focused on church duties or responsibilities.  While on the sabbatical, the pastor has an opportunity to rediscover old interests and friends, explore new ideas, travel, get fit, do retirement pre-planning or a special project, take care of family needs, and much more.  It can broaden one’s perspective and makes personal and professional priorities clearer."
  • Younger pastors have the opportunity to grow into their roles. Too often a new or younger pastor is thrown into service right out of college or seminary.  They have not had time to develop “into a pastor” or expand their skill set. 
  • The leadership of the church can grow from within.  Church growth can come when its leadership is given the opportunity to lead.  While the pastor is away, the leadership and staff can use their skill sets to train others or fill in.  This can create or build greater depth, experience, and flexibility.
  • Pastors are encouraged to remain with the church.  The church is actually investing in their pastor and its future.  Sabbaticals is usually based or rewarded on tenure.  It is a joint cooperative effort by the pastor and its leadership to continue moving the church forward with its current pastor with the idea that a sabbatical will benefit the church and pastor.  In other words, it is a win-win proposition.
  • Churches show they care about their pastor as a person, their future as well as the future of the church.  Pastors want to remain with a church who is interested in their health and well-being as well as the church understanding the importance of pastoral balance.  Too many pastors in the past have sacrificed time away from their family and personal life for the sake of the church.  Many pastors have left feeling as if the church did not care about them “as a person”.  Many younger pastors and churches need to understand balance between work and person life. 
  • Churches can experience reduced pastors turnover when they implement a sabbatical.  When pastors feel the church is investing in them as a person, it makes them feel appreciated and has enough value to invest in them.  Pastors have a longer tenure at churches who invests in their live and career.
  • The church is benefited.  The church gets a pastor with a renewed spirit, vision, and direction for the church.  They seem more focused on what God is calling them to do with a mindset of unfinished business and seeing greater things ahead for the church and their ministry.   

While companies may resist the idea of sabbaticals, they provide great benefits for the pastor and church.  In a workplace where pastors are at the center, they must feel valued or else they tend to look elsewhere.  Churches must be innovative with how they are attracting and retaining their pastors. 


What are the Disadvantages of a Sabbatical?


Cost and administrative difficulties are the most obvious negatives to offering sabbaticals. Other downsides might include an emotional disconnection from the church depending on how they communicate it with its membership.  There may be a decrease in the normal productivity of the church as work and responsibilities are shifted to others during the sabbatical.


For more information on planning and guidelings, please click onto the link below to download the whole article:


Printable Verson
Microsoft Word document [47.1 KB]
Print | Sitemap
© Pastoral Care, Inc.