My First Ever Sabbatical

March 20, 2018 | Written by

This year marks my 30th year of serving Christ in a church, and 20 years of full time ministry.

Into this grateful calling I have been given a generous gift—my first ever sabbatical this summer. I am thrilled (and a little anxious) to take a season to truly rest, reflect, and realign my life for the next season of serving God.

One of our core teaching truths at Pulpit Rock is to sustain. We reproduce not what we say or what we do, but who we are. So it is key to learn to follow Christ in healthy, reproducible, and sustainable ways. We have talked about how a sabbath is God’s gift to us, a time to stop our ordinary work to rest, delight, play, and recover our purpose in God.

A sabbatical is an extended sabbath. It is not a vacation, nor a time to pursue additional study or training. Instead, it is a guided process in which we are released from the day to day responsibility of leading to focus on becoming refreshed, with the result of intentional life and ministry changes.

Thomas is looking forward to a time of rest, delight, play, and reconnecting with his purpose in God.

Sabbaticals are especially important for pastors, for whom the messenger is the message. Our staff leaders are expected to minister from a deep spiritual base, yet the never-ending wear and tear of ministry makes it difficult or even impossible to maintain that base. Statistical evidence backs up our belief that regular Sabbaticals are a primary way a church can honor God by helping its pastors avoid burnout, discouragement, and moral failure. Our congregation becomes the beneficiary when staff leaders invest long, productive seasons of ministry in one place.

Jessica and I are working with a sabbatical team to shape our time around three phases:

a phase of Rest,
a phase on Reflecting on our lives and who God has created us to be,
a phase of Realignment to move us forward in healthy, sustainable ways.

There will be times of solitude, times of family and friends, and times with just us.

During this time, some of the things I will cease from include social media, ministry and leadership work, email and phone. I am looking forward to some times of counseling, retreats, here in Colorado and in Ireland, as well as engaging in life giving activities like kayaking, cooking, and fly fishing.

As far as Pulpit Rock is concerned, this is a great time to be reminded that our church does not operate out of one person, but out of a team of trained and gifted people. Our Elders and Pastors have been working for over a year to prepare for this time. We hope this will be a season of great opportunity for leaders at Pulpit Rock to step out in new ways of serving. The teaching team at Pulpit Rock will handle the bulk of preaching; however we are thrilled to bring in some guests to help guide our congregation.

Great Men and Women of God, thank you for this opportunity. I’d ask three things from you this summer:
Pray: For Jessica’s and my rest and wisdom and energy for our staff and elders
Direct: All questions and ministry needs to our team of fantastic leaders.
Lean: Into the ministry this summer at Pulpit Rock.

This will be an amazing time of growth and renewal as God leads in this season in new and different ways—don’t miss it!

I look forward to returning this fall and sharing life with you!

Written by Thomas Thompson

A few thoughts from Jonathan…

The Elders of Pulpit Rock have decided to invest in the heart of our pastor by giving Thomas a sabbatical from ministry. We recognize the role of Senior Pastor comes with some unique challenges and stressors. We are so grateful for the ways that Thomas has invested himself in all of us for these past 10 years, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to invest in him as a pastor and leader.

At our direction, Thomas has spent the last few months planning a time of rest and renewal for himself and his family.
The sabbatical will be From May 1st 2018 → August 31st 2018
His last Sunday will be April 29th.
In September, he will transition back to his normal responsibilities over the course of three weeks.

What can you expect while he is gone?
Most of his responsibilities will be covered by existing staff. The Sunday morning preaching will include our pastoral team and some guest preachers. We are excited about the plans for this summer and the opportunities we will all have to hear from a variety of voices!

What should you do if you run into him while he is on his sabbatical?
Act normal! Thomas is a leader who has shared not only his ministry with us, but his life as well. He has cultivated some deep friendships within our church. There is no need to ignore him or pretend you don’t see him. Please relate to him outside of church as you normally would.

We love our Senior Pastor.
And we love that God has put us in a position where we can invest in him and in his family. Thank you for loving the Thompson family, and for lifting them up in prayer during this time.

Written by Jonathan Cleveland on behalf of the Board of Elders (Doug Roth, Brian Plaisted, David White, Tedd Cassidy, Juan Cabrera, Gary Cantwell, Doug Lagasse, Mark Stephens)


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8 thoughts on “My First Ever Sabbatical”

  1. I am so glad you are all getting this time to rest, reflect, and realign! God uses all of your to refresh and offer life to others. It’s about time you are refreshed. We love you all, and we will be praying for you!!

  2. Pastor Thomas: Is the pastor the only person in the church that gets to take a vacation from work. Colleges allow there professors to take a sabbatical to refresh, renew ,relax,recharge why not pastors. Even Jesus himself took himself away from his disciples on ocassion to do that very thing. Have a great time, just doing.


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