Ideas For Your Sabbatical

Challenges with the traditional sabbatical format

Traditional sabbatical models provide a pastor with 3-6 months off to pursue training and renewal.  This requires significant investment both in salary plus the cost of training.  When the sabbatical is complete, re-entry to the church can be challenging – the pastor has changed, the church has changed, there may be power tensions and vision shift.  Often this results in the pastor leaving, creating an environment in which church boards are reluctant to grant any kind of sabbatical leave.

Another challenge is when the pastor is given a sabbatical, but a few months after returning is feeling just they did before the sabbatical. Why? Because they did not actually change how they lived; they just had a rest.

The CREST Alternative

Pastors and key ministry leaders do need some kind of sabbatical reprieve from the rigours of full-time ministry. But they also must make a significant shift in how they live in order to not simply repeat an unsustainable lifestyle. This deep, inner shift is exactly what CREST helps mid-life leaders understand, and we offer a way to actually make the shift.

As an alternative to the traditional model, The CREST Leadership Certificate Program can provide the needed training and refreshment components while preserving the relationship with the church during the process.

Sabbaticals need a balance of rest and learning.  A suggested way to incorporate the CREST program into a sabbatical is:

Rest Learn Rest
4 days, including Sunday CREST Encounter 3 days 4 days, including Sunday

By combining rest and preparation days prior to each three-day Encounter a leader could receive 66 days of sabbatical leave (over two years) at a fraction of the cost of traditional models while still providing leadership to the church.

I have had three Encounters in the CREST program with conjoined Sabbatical time enabling me to speak to the effectiveness of this model.   I have come back from my times away feeling rested, invigorated, and ready to re-engage.  My tank was filled.  It was later in the CREST Program that I learned of the importance of rhythms that so cinched the model for me.  The CREST component has given me camaraderie, interaction, new leadership tools and a track for my own leadership development.  The Sabbatical component has given me time alone with God to digest the learning and interaction, assess the past and plan for the future.

I came into CREST struggling with boredom and a lack of inspiration for the future of my ministry.  Wow has that changed! After serving seven years in my current church the board generously offered me a sabbatical break.  I looked at a number of different models but wasn’t sure which direction would suite me best.  Then I came across the CREST sabbatical program.  This seemed to fit me best for a few reasons.  First of all I love to learn but need time to digest material if I am going to get maximum benefit from it.  I really like to test drive ideas as I learn.  I also felt I really needed some rest and time to gain perspective on my current stage of ministry and life.  Taking 10 days each time I had a CREST encounter would facilitate this but it also didn’t leave the church without their lead pastor for an extended time period.  There were times when I was so busy leading up to a 10 day sabbatical break that I really didn’t think there was any way I could leave; but because I was part of a scheduled process and I really didn’t want to fall behind, I would simply take the time off and go.  By the time I would get back I would feel so completely refreshed I was so glad that I had gone.  Through this I came to realize that sometimes when I think I can least ‘afford’ to take a break for rest and reconnecting with God, is the exact time I need to do it more than ever.

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