The years 2019 and 2020 will be forever infamous in all our minds. We all are aware of the impacts those years had on medical and government personnel, businesses, schools, and churches. Those impacts continue into the present as well. So much so that studies have already been conducted to measure the impacts.
One such study reveals both the positive and the negative. Three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, churches have fewer people in the pews, more money in the collection plate and less conflict than they had in 2020. Despite their struggles, many congregations are optimistic about the future. Clergy dissatisfaction, on the other hand, remains on the rise (Baptists Press, September 7, 2023).
In Louisiana, whether it’s a pandemic, an ice storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or sometimes a church member, challenges and conflicts are going to come to every pastor and every church. For these reasons, many years ago the Pastoral Leadership team became proactive in providing the Shepherd’s Rest Sabbatical ministry.
When a church agrees to participate in Shepherd’s Rest, supply preachers will be provided at no cost to the church for up to four consecutive weeks. Other guidelines are needed that as well will help the pastor and his church plan the sabbatical.
The Pastoral Leadership team is also able to provide resources to help pastors take a sabbatical. The most important aspect of a ministry sabbatical is not choosing a place to go, but acknowledging what needs to be done while taking the time away from the church.
The sabbatical should be specifically planned to help the pastor review his past, refresh in the present, and renew himself for the future. It should be time alone with God and with spouse with no distractions or interruptions from the church.
The pastor should choose a topic of interest that he may explore during his sabbatical. Selecting several books to read, allowing for good rest, and some recreation is also encouraged for a ministry sabbatical.
Shepherd’s Rest is funded by offerings given through the Cooperative Program for any Louisiana Baptist tenured pastor.