It’s usually around budgeting time each year when the importance of the sabbatical is reconsidered. At first glance, it’s not a very good idea to provide a pastor with a sabbatical. Right? The pastor is gone for an extended period, resulting in the need to hire replacement speakers or otherwise meet the ministry’s need in the pastor’s absence. In most cases, the church provides some form of a stipend to allow the pastor to do something while they’re on sabbatical.
Sure, providing a sabbatical for a pastor is a monetary investment the congregation must make. Like all other investments, there’s a benefit, and the benefit by far out ways the investment. The “benefit” is the long-term growth and overall health of the church.
Sabbaticals Increase Longevity – Statistically speaking, a pastor’s greatest season of effectiveness begins after ten years of full-time service within the same congregation. Therefore, one of the greatest investments a church can make is to invest in a pastor’s long-term personal growth and renewal, which is the purpose of the sabbatical.
Sabbaticals Reduce Costs – It’s expensive to replace a pastoral staff member. The time it takes to search for a candidate, cover responsibilities in their absence, fly candidates in and out for interviews, cover moving expenses, etc., all weigh heavily on a congregation’s budget. Strategically providing sabbatical time for renewal saves the church from losing momentum and incurring significant expense.
Bottom line … periodically providing the pastor with a sabbatical is one of the most important investments in the future the congregation can make.