It’s usually around budgeting time each year when the importance of the sabbatical is reconsidered. At first glance, providing a pastor with a sabbatical is not a very good idea. Right? The pastor is gone for an extended period, resulting in needing replacement speakers or meeting the ministry’s needs 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.
Providing a pastor with a sabbatical is a monetary investment the congregation must make. Like all other investments, there’s a benefit, and the benefit by far outweighs the investment. The “benefit” is the church’s long-term growth and overall health.
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 most significant 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 expenses.
Bottom line? Periodically providing the pastor with a sabbatical is one of the most important investments in the future the congregation can make.
(See the Sabbatical Leave section of my Staff Policy Manual.)