What is a Sabbatical?

Sabbatical is defined as literally a "ceasing", a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described in several places in the Bible. For example, in Leviticus 25, there is a commandment to desist from working the fields during the seventh year. Strictly Speaking, this means a sabbatical would last one year.

A pastor's ministry includes caring for families in crisis during all hours of the day and night, leading meetings, speaking into the hearts and lives of not only "the church" but also the community, studying The Word and keeping current on what's happening in today's world so their teaching is impactful and relevant. Their responsibilities are vast and the pressure can be demanding. A sabbatical is vital to the health of both the pastor and the congregation where the pastor serves. The pastor needs to take time to rest, more than just a day or week here or there.

The East Michigan District, in their Standing Rules, speaks to Sabbaticals. Recognizing that normal routines often do not provide the reflection and renewal of the vision and mission of the pastor's ministry…any pastor who has served in one particular church for seven years or more is eligible for and is encouraged to take a sabbatical at least every seven years.

Below are links to two resources for our churches to use in preparing for their pastor's Sabbatical rest. Please contact the District Office for other resources.