Sabbatical & Summer
Hey everyone! It's been a while since I've written so please excuse any composition rust you might experience in this article. I want to write about two main things. One is a Sabbatical which I will soon be embarking on. The other is Summer which is right around the corner.
First of all what is a Sabbatical and why am I going on one? Simply put, a Sabbatical is a time of rest.
"The concept of sabbatical is rooted in the biblical concept of “Sabbath” which God modeled (Genesis 2:1-4a) and commanded (Exodus 20:8-11). In Leviticus 25:1-7, the Lord says that after the sixth year the people were not supposed to sow the fields or harvest a crop. The land was allowed to rest, and therefore, so were the people. Sabbaticals have often been used in church and academia to provide a time of rest, recovery, renewal and reeducation for the individual staff member. We believe that our pastoral staff should model God’s design for Sabbath rest. We believe that a time of sabbatical is important both in sharpening and renewal of the pastor and for the health and strength of the Church." - Living Waters Sabbatical Policy
Since getting into Gospel ministry in 2005 and planting Living Waters Fellowship as a new church in 2008, we have never taken a Sabbatical rest. We've never experienced an extended break from ministry and for those who have been in full-time Gospel ministry for a measured period of time, you know going a long time without a break is simply not healthy. We're not Jesus, we just serve Him. Jesus doesn't wear out, we often do. Sabbatical is a time of renewing one's walk with God, reading and drinking deeply of books, writing, and spending quality time with one's family, friends, and close ministry partners. As weird as it sounds, I'm eager to rest. If I'm being totally transparent, I'm also a little nervous about my first Sabbatical as it will force me to disengage and slow down, which is something that doesn't come naturally to me. Sabbaticals bless both the pastor and the congregation in great ways and I anticipate that being the reality at Living Waters.
2) What should the Church do during a Pastor's Sabbatical?
So now that we know what a Sabbatical is, what is a church supposed to do while the Pastor is away?
Be Faithful - The first thing a congregation must do while a Pastor is away on Sabbatical is to be faithful. Be faithful in biblical devotion to Jesus. Be faithful to show up to church. Be faithful to encourage one another. Be faithful to lift up the pastors who are carrying more responsibilities than normal.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:24-25
Step Up - The second thing a congregation must do while a Pastor is away on Sabbatical is step up. When one person steps away, there are many opportunities for the body of Christ to step up and serve in new and powerful ways. If you are a member of Living Waters, be on the lookout for new ways for you to step up and fill some needs. Maybe someone needs an encouragement note...you can write it! Maybe someone needs a hospital visit...you can make it! Maybe someone looks lonely at church...you can start a conversation! Be on the lookout for the endless opportunities to step up.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12-13
Enjoy God and the local Pastors - What a gift to have other pastors who can preach, teach and shepherd the flock while one of the Pastors is away. As a congregation, embrace the different preaching voices you will hear. Learn to appreciate and love each pastor for his unique gifts and abilities. Thank God that there is a plurality of pastors who can serve and lead the church during a Sabbatical season. You will learn so much about God and His Glory when you enjoy the diversity of pastors He has given to His church. Enjoy God and the local pastors at Living Waters!
So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. - Ephesians 6:21
3) Summer Church
As I close this article, I do want you to know an important update. For 10 Sundays, from May 29th - July 31st, we will be offering only one worship service on Sunday mornings, at 10am. This will be a good and needed change for us during the Summer months and I want you get a glimpse of how we came to that conclusion as a Pastors and Staff group.
Early Service Numbers - Since Easter, our 8:30am service attendance numbers have been on the lower end and we anticipate that trend continuing throughout the Summer. Our new building can comfortably hold 350+ people per service and we think it will be super fun to have everyone together each Sunday as people are traveling. For those of you who are faithful 8:30am attenders, relax, we will be restoring the normal 8:30am service on Sunday, August 7th!
Our Historical Summer Numbers - We looked at our Summer attendance trends from the last three Summers and saw that attendance does dip a bit during June and July. In the past, these dips in attendance didn't matter as much as we were doing outdoor "tent" church and "theater" church which allowed us to be flexible by offering two smaller services. We anticipate our Summer attendance trends to be dipping in a normal way again this year except this year we have a big building to meet in, which was another reason we decided to jettison the 8:30am service for these ten weeks.
Worship Energy - Though we are shedding the 8:30am service for ten weeks, the overall attendance trends at Living Waters are very much UP! We are seeing more and more people coming to church, which encourages us greatly. Since we now own a beautiful, new building that can support and sustain everyone coming to one service for the Summer, our thinking was to capture that people energy and worship God in a full-house each week. Should be fun!
Please reach out to one of the pastors if you have any questions. I'm excited for Living Waters to experience a fantastic Summer of worship, growth, and transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love you church! I'll be signing off soon for Sabbatical, but look forward to being reunited with all of you in mid-July.