Redland Hills Family,
It’s been a while since we talked about my upcoming sabbatical and now we are just 3 months away. So I thought it might be helpful to give you a little more info and answer some of the frequently asked questions.
If you are new to the church, in January of this year I announced, after many months of planning with our Elders, that from January-March 2024 I would be entering a sabbatical. If you are unfamiliar with the term, sabbatical comes from the Bible word “to cease” or “to rest.” It is a time to disengage from the normal responsibilities of sermon preparation, preaching, meetings, leading small groups, counseling, weddings, funerals, constant phone calls/texts, and the daily administration of the church.
This coming January I will have been running 10 years with Redland Hills (January 26, 2024 is our birthday celebration!). Before that I had been serving in full-time ministry for 15 years. When I announced my sabbatical my mom immediately called me and said, “what’s wrong?” I assured her nothing was wrong. There is no crisis, no scandal, nothing I am running from. Some of you come from churches when the only sabbatical the pastor took was the forced one. The reason for my sabbatical is so that nothing gets wrong. Your pastor is human just like you and needs time for renewal and reflection. Preaching 45+ times a year doesn’t allow for that very much, nor do I have the opportunity to get around to many other churches for inspiration and learning. It will allow me recharge and reset so that I am healthy and focused on the next season God has for us together.
What will you be doing on your vacation?
I will take a vacation with my family during this time, but a sabbatical is much more than a vacation. It is attending to my own soul so that I can attend to yours. The work of ministry is mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. I am meeting with a spiritual director weekly, will do a little traveling (because travel is renewing to me), have a private spiritual retreat, do lots of reading, spend time with family, see some old friends, and visit growing churches around the United States to see what God is doing.
So you won’t even be at RHC on Sundays?
If I am at RHC on a Sunday, I am in work mode. In order for me to really recharge, I have to completely unplug. So, no, I won’t be at RHC or even watching online during these sabbatical weeks. Almost every Sunday I will be at a church (or multiple churches on a weekend) around the country and world.
What will happen to the church while you are away?
I have been working closely with the Elders and staff over the last year to prepare them to fully run the normal operations of the church in my absence. My goal is that things would be so normal you won’t notice I am gone. We have an awesome team who are ready for the challenge. We have some incredible outside speakers and in-house speakers lined up for Sundays. We will continue our normal rhythms of 28 days of prayer, a marriage retreat, small groups, Good Friday, and other activities. It is healthy for the church not to be dependent on any one person. I believe the church will continue to grow and move forward in my absence. It is also hoped that while I am away the church will also spend time to rest and reflect on God’s purpose for us.
What if there is an emergency?
The leadership has agreed to a protocol for what constitutes an emergency that requires involving me. Most things the Elders and staff will handle without me. They really want to protect my time. Should they feel it is best to involve me in a situation, they will be able to do so. Call the church (334-986-0001) or reach out to one of the Elders if you have a need.
Can we talk to you at all?
You may see me exercising around the neighborhood or in the grocery store. If you do, you are encouraged to stop and say “hi” to me. I will miss being with all of you very much. However, my regular cell phone number nor my email will be monitored during this time, nor will I be on social media.
You are coming back, right?
The purpose of this sabbatical gift is to recharge for the next season at Redland Hills. While only God knows the future, I have no plans to do anything else. My heart remains incredibly strong for this church and there is nothing else I want to do. So, yes, Lord willing and Jesus doesn’t come back, I will be back March 31 to resume my duties.
What are the dates of your sabbatical?
Christmas Eve 2023 is on a Sunday. We will have a 9 am worship and then a 3 PM & 4:30 PM candlelight service that I will preach and lead. That morning we will recognize this special gift the church is giving me. Immediately following my sabbatical begins. My first Sunday back will Easter Sunday, March 31, 2024. We’ll do something special in the following weeks to recognize my return and share with you what God did in me.
If you have additional questions, I invite you to ask them. We’ll be posting a couple more updates prior to my sabbatical in the coming weeks. I am anticipating this sabbatical gift and the blessings that will come with it.
To listen to a teaching on sabbatical and my public announcement of it in January 2023, you can listen here.