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Articles on Sabbaticals

  • "Drinking Again from God's Life-Giving Waters" by Jim Schlottman (published in the May 2011 issue of Compass, distributed by QuietWaters Ministries).  Why should pastors take a sabbatical, and why should congregations give them one?  Jim Schlottman, President and CEO of QuietWaters Ministries, provides answers to these critical questions on the importance of renewal periods for those in ministry.  In response to misconceptions about sabbaticals and their significance, Jim writes, “Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.”   Sabbaticals not only cultivate pastor renewal, but also renewal in the pastor’s family and congregation.  To read more from Jim on the necessity of sabbaticals and suggestions for planning one, click here.
  • "Finding Creative Ways of Renewal" by Lis Van Harten (published in the Fall 2012 issue of the APCE Advocate).  For pastors and educators, renewal is vital to help combat the drain of an overfull, often stressful workload.  Ways of finding renewal will vary greatly from person to person.  Many pastors have experienced the joy of renewal through peer groups, in which pastors enjoy studying books, attending conferences together, sharing experiences, and engaging in a variety of other group activities.  Renewal can also come through unintentional means, and sometimes it is the “simple act of people getting together to share life [that] brings renewal.”  To read the full article, click here.
  • "Sabbatical" (title of October 2012 issue of Compass, distributed by QuietWaters Ministries).  In this special edition of Compass, QuietWaters President Jim Schlottman encourages pastors to take sabbaticals and urges ministry leaders to make funding those sabbaticals a greater priority.  In his article “Plan that Overdue Sabbatical”, Dale Matthews notes that while many denominations support pastoral sabbaticals (one for every six to seven years of service), the reality remains that most pastors never get one.  Reasons include: not enough funding, lack of priority, and sabbatical misconceptions (those who see sabbaticals as ‘vacations’). Some pastors serve a church for five to seven years and then take a call elsewhere, thus forfeiting any sabbatical they may have ‘earned’ at their previous church. Working through the reasons can be challenging however, the profound benefits of sabbaticals are clear.  As Matthews writes, “A sabbatical is a time of renewal and re-creation for the pastor and the church, and it will reap benefits for years to come.”  To read the entire Compass issue on sabbaticals, click here.
  • "Sabbatical Helps Getting from One's Element to One's Essence" by Phil Thorne (posted March 1, 2011 on  Following a three-month sabbatical, part of which was with Pastors on Point ministry, Pastor Phil Thorne shares from his personal experience how sabbaticals can provide renewal and strength for pastors amidst the challenges of parish ministry.  Through time spent hiking, fishing, and “soaking up the majesty of the landscape” in the Colorado wilderness, he discovered the need to guard his center of life – an intimate relationship with God – out of which flows all aspects of life, church, and leadership.  Phil now practices regular Sabbath, and encourages both his staff and other pastors to do the same.  To read more of Phil’s story, click here.
  • "The Dark Side of a Sabbatical" by Mark Miller-McLemore (published in the December 2010 issue of Faith & Leadership).  An increasing number of pastors are adopting the practice of sabbaticals, which can be a great time of refreshment and growth for pastors and their congregations.  However, as three congregations illustrate, there is a ‘dark side’ – or potential dangers – that can arise in pastoral sabbaticals.  Whether it’s wrongful assumptions about sabbatical intentions, resentment from the congregation, or emotional tension between pastors and lay leaders, sabbaticals have the potential to create unexpected problems.   To read some helpful tips on how to avoid sabbatical hazards, click here.