Ten years ago I took my first Sabbatical. I needed it. After completing the first ten years of ministry at First Baptist Church, I was tired. I think it was a combination of less staff, a church structure which required far more meetings to effect changes than today, and a resistance to change that seemed always present. This time around (now completing my second decade) it is quite different. We have an extremely competent staff, a mature and qualified Leadership Board, and a very unified church body.
My first Sabbatical was all about rest and refreshment. As unspiritual as it all sounds, this was the primary goal. I remodeled my kitchen, painted the house and did some traveling. These were all very fun for me.
In the midst of these activities and going to various churches each Sunday, God made some deep impressions on me.
For one, I became disillusioned with so many of the churches we visited. They seemed so stuck in their own little kingdom. They, by and large, were boring and were quite unsuccessful at leading me to true worship and connecting with God—something I really wanted to do.
Second, I read some books that asked the question, “If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone in your community notice or care other than your own people?” This question lit a fire in me about what needed to happen when I returned to work. Today, much of what we know as the ministries of First Baptist were a direct result of this change of direction.
What about this Sabbatical?
This time around I have a more specific goal. Obviously there will still be the goal of rest and refreshment, but I am looking for what God has for First Baptist in the next ten years. For some reason, I see my leadership unfolding as three distinct decades of service. The first decade was about rebuilding and revitalizing the spiritual health and vitality of the church. The second decade has been about creating a spiritual footprint starting compassionate ministries toward our community (Foodbank, Basement, Transition House, our Rescue Mission partnership, Hyde Park Street Fair, Be the Remedy, Etc.). The third decade, I believe will be about reproduction and replication of what God has done and is doing. I think what has happened at Dry Creek Community Church is just the tip of the iceberg.
To this end I would ask you to be praying.
- Pray for God’s voice and will to be heard.
- Pray for rest. Pray for vision and dreams.
- Pray for First Baptist Church while I’m gone that it may grow and gain strength even while I am away.