Sabbatical Policy

Last Updated: August 4, 2016 Contact: Katie Chow

<p style=”font-size: 14px;”>Veritas Sabbatical Overview</p>


The Veritas elders and their congregation affirms that continuing leaves are beneficial to the pastor and minis-
try staff individually as well as the teams of elders, staff and even the congregation. The Sabbatical and Extended Breaks are intended for rest, recalibration and a fresh re-entry into ministry duties. The daily rhythms of pastoral leadership require seasons to step back for physical, emotional and spiritual rest.

“We are to rest on the sabbath also, I have supposed, in order to understand that the providence or the productivity of the living world, the most essential work, continues while we rest. This is entirely independent of our work, and is far more complex and wonderful than any work we have ever done or will ever do. It is more complex and wonderful than we will ever understand.”

– Wendell Berry, This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a time to focus in-depth on things that are important to a person’s work and life with the church. Sabbaticals for pastors are highly recommended in order to renew the calling and creativity of our spiritual leaders. Such sabbaticals should include intentional times for gospel-reflection, rekindling the spirit, and deepening spiritual life and family relationships.

Why should we give our pastor a sabbatical?

A congregation should arrange for a pastor’s sabbatical because it’s biblical, and because both the pastor and the church need it. The sabbatical year practiced by the Hebrew people was the final year in a cycle of seven years (Leviticus 25:3-4). It was also a time when the Hebrew people had the opportunity to renew their trust in God as the provider of all of their needs, even during the time when they did not labor.

After a pastor has served a congregation for five years or more, they have a tendency to take God and one another for granted, often falling into frustrating patterns rather than finding a faithful and creative future. A sabbatical for the pastor can provide time to focus on reading, writing, prayer, and family dynamics, and forces church members to exercise their ministries for the good of one another and the gospel.

How does the congregation benefit?

It is a season to remember that the pastor is not the only minister in the church. The priesthood of all believers becomes a practiced reality as ministries grow. It is also a time for the congregation to become a minister to the pastor. To encourage, strengthen and show honor to the pastor during their time of rest.

<p style=”font-size: 10px;”>Adapted from Minutes of General Synod 1987, Reformed Church in America </p>

It is the conviction of Veritas Community Church that to maintain strong effective, and long-term pastoral and ministry staff leadership, personal and spiritual seasons of rest and re-calibration are necessary for the growth of the pastor as well as the church. Or as Wayne Cordeiro summarized in his book Leading on Empty,

“A sabbatical is like the seventh year. In the Old Testament, it was an extended season to allow the land to regain its potency and allow the soil to restore its nutrients and minerals. There will likewise be seasons when a sabbatical, or an extended season of rest, becomes crucial to sustaining the shelf life of a minister or Christian leader. It replenishes nutrients to our souls and restores our hunger for life and ministry. Howev- er, a common response to taking a sabbatical is “I just don’t have the time.” But I’d like you to consider this: “How deep is your hunger and how fruitful is your soul?” These are the critical issues.” – (Leading on Empty, pg. 185)

<p style=”font-size: 14px;”>Sabbatical Policy</p>

The following document is both a guide and policy for Sabbaticals within the leadership of Veritas Community Church. As the church grows in sabbatical experience and practice this document may be adjusted and refined.


A. Each full-time staff pastor or full-time ministry staff1 will be encouraged to take an extended break every four years and a sabbatical after seven years of full-time work as detailed below.

B. With this sabbatical will come a small stipen

d as well as a continuation of their normal salary.

C. The timing of sabbatical and determination of who will take over assigned duties is determined by the lead pastor with the help of the Central Team. (The lead pastor’s sabbatical will be determined by the Central Team with the approval of the full elder council.)

When a sabbatical is approved, there are several conditions that must be worked within:

1. A written proposal of goals and simple sketch of schedule/itinerary to ensure opportunity for rest and recalibration.

2. A written care plan outlining the role of an elder liaison and counselor. This must include a weekly phone call with an soul care coach and a bi-weekly phone call with a Veritas elder liaison for soul care and relationship.

3. The Sabbatical should be scheduled and approved one year in advance.

4. A written plan of who will be taking over the ministries and responsibilities in your place. This should be as specific as possible

5. Immediately following the sabbatical or extended break, there will be an evaluation with either the Central Team or the pastors Congregational Elder Team and a reentry/recalibration plan established for the pastor/staff.


Full-Time Staff Pastors

• Yearly Vacation: Determined by Ministry Description.

• Extended Break: Every 4 years, 5 consecutive weeks off.

• Sabbatical: At 7 years, 12 consecutive weeks.

Full-Time Ministry Staff/Deacons

• Yearly Vacation: Determined by Ministry Description.

• Extended Break: Every 4 years, 5 consecutive weeks off.

• Sabbatical: At 7 years, 7 weeks consecutive weeks.

Special Requested Sabbatical

There may be seasons of needed rest due to burnout or personal development. Requests may be made to the Central Team for approval.


Should Every Pastor Get a Sabbatical?: by TGC video available on YouTube

Caring for the Pastor by Matt Schmucker: http://9marks.org/article/caring-pastor-sabbatical/

A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors by David Alves

Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

The Saints’ Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter

Margin by Richard Swenson

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson

<p style=”font-size: 10px;”>1 This does not include full-time administrative staff. The distinction is determined by Central Team with final approval from the Compensation Team.</p>

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