In 2017, the leadership at Village elected to adopt a sabbatical policy for pastors. For every seven years of service, your pastors are eligible for a period of intentional, constructive time away from the normal demands of ministry.
On May 28, I will be entering into a season of sabbatical lasting until August 5. This is not designed to be an extended vacation; it is a proactive rhythm of rest, removed from the normal routines and demands of the pastorate, to promote longevity, and prevent the burnout so common among many in leadership today. I am grateful for the opportunity to disconnect, bury my head in books and writing projects, and invest in both my family and my communion with Christ.
I know that this feels jarring for some at Village. I do most of the preaching, and my responsibilities make me one of the most ‘up-front’ leaders at Village. As a result, some of you have expressed concern about what my absence will mean for the summer. As we enter into this season together, I want to leave you with four pastoral words of encouragement and exhortation.
1. Jesus Loves and Leads His Church
I love Village. God has done, and continues to do great things with this body. I am grateful for the humbling responsibility to lead and shepherd this local community of believers. But church: neither my love nor your love for Village holds a candle to Jesus’ love for us.
And consider this: Jesus is our true Shepherd. Pastor Brian and myself are called to shepherd this church, we are but commissioned as subordinates; caretakers assigned by Jesus to labor with and for you. Which means that you are now, and will always be, in His good hands.
We all stand under His leadership and love. He is jealous for Village – just as He is jealous for every local assembly of His people. Rest in His love and His leadership, church. Know that He cares for us and leads us with His unresting, unceasing, always-present care.
2. Your Leadership is Competent, Caring and Christlike
Building on this point, Village is privileged to have two pastors on staff. And your other pastor is a treasure and gift from God. Pastor Brian is incredibly competent, caring and Christlike. He is a true shepherd, a godly example, a faithful and knowledgeable student of the Scriptures, a sound teacher, and wise counselor. I am so grateful to have this brother serving on staff with me. Rest easy church, you are in good hands.
Adding to this, you have a deacons serving this body. They love Jesus, are wise, godly and able to minister to the many needs of this church.
But let's not stop there! The various service teams, committees and individuals overseeing various aspects of ministries are doing an amazing job. If you could only see all the moving pieces! God has brought wonderful people to Village.
I care deeply about the health of this church. But I am stepping away for 10 weeks knowing that it is in the best of hands.
3. Different Voices are Healthy
Over the next two months, you will have the opportunity to hear several different voices preaching on Sunday mornings. We take the preaching of the word very seriously at Village. Scripture is our authority and our guide, therefore we want our preachers to handle it rightly, responsibly, and with the respect due it.
Let me tell you, church: the men preaching over the next 10 weeks do just that. I am hopeful for great things as the Scripture we treasure together is preached by different voices, and that the Spirit encourages, convicts, transforms and shapes our church in rich and lasting ways. Come hungry and eager, church.
4. The Church is Not its Pastor
Finally, Village is not its pastors. Yes, we are your shepherds. Yes, we orchestrate programs and provide leadership. Yes, we counsel and teach and equip. But your pastors are not the church. You are the church. We are the church.
The work of ministry is not stopping on my sabbatical, because the work of ministry is yours (Eph. 4:12). And church, when each part of the church is doing its part, working together, guess what happens? The body grows; “it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16).
What this means is that I am expecting to return from this sabbatical to find Village a little taller, a little stronger, a little more mature. You have a good work ahead of you, church.
May this summer be a rich time for both of us. A time of growing closer to Jesus. A time of learning. A time of resting in the space God gives to each of us.
I look forward to hearing all the stories when I get back.