Message from the Elders about the Sabbatical

Pastoral leadership is a demanding and challenging job. James the brother of Jesus and the pastoral leaders of the Jerusalem Church reminds us of the demanding responsibility pastoral leaders face when he said, “those who teach will be judged more strictly.” In other words, those who teach and preach God's word and Jesus's commands are accountable to handle the word of God accurately and diligently. Along with this significant responsibility of teaching and feeding the Church of Jesus Christ comes the enormous weight of caring for and shepherding people through some of life's most difficult experiences. Our pastoral leaders often fill the role of battlefield medics responding and caring for the casualties of life-altering events, such as addictions death, divorce, sin, physical, and mental health issues, and the list goes on. I think that many of us take for granted the toll these devastating and tragic events take on our pastors.

Approximately a year ago, Chris approached the elders asking if we would consider supporting his taking a sabbatical. This was a new concept and not something any of us had experienced before. With that in mind, we asked several questions and Chris provided resources to help us better understand what a sabbatical entail, and what he hoped to gain from a sabbatical. Since that time, the elders have discussed the possibility of offering a sabbatical and spent time in prayer in consideration regarding the value of sabbatical.

For those unfamiliar with the term “sabbatical,” it comes from the Biblical term “Sabbath” which means rest. The first Sabbath was observed by God, when after six days of creating the world, the Bible says on the seventh day God rested. The Jewish term for rest is “Shabbat” which, literally means day of rest. During Shabbat, Jewish followers are encouraged to read, study, pray, and move in a way that draws them closer to God. So, the essence of a sabbatical is rest. However, it is a very intentional focused, and guided form of rest.

To help us better understand what a sabbatical is and why it is important think of the word “rest” itself R-E-S-T.
“R” Renewal is a key element of a sabbatical that addresses the whole person's physical emotional mental and spiritual. Rest is essential in all these areas. Special attention is given to addressing areas where a pastoral leader's life needs renewal and how best to Foster those areas.
“E” Encouragement and enjoyment this is a time for affirmation and refreshing. A sabbatical includes uplifting enjoy infused activities such as travel or hobbies. As well as receiving notes of encouragement and support from those who love and support the participant. Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
“S” Spiritual replenishment an essential and prominent focus in sabbatical is reconnecting with God more deeply and profoundly. A sabbatical provides an opportunity for time in God's word and prayer. This spiritual Focus also allows essential space for time in silence, solitude, and reflection. It is a time to refill the tank.
“T” Transformation the Biblical word metamorphosis comes to mind. We want the sabbatical to be a time of change and renovation. The objective for those on a sabbatical is to return a truer and renewed version of the person God created them to be.

Please know that a sabbatical is NOT a vacation. It is a carefully and intentionally created experience designed to accomplish rest. Preparation for a sabbatical begins months before it occurs, under the direction of a qualified counselor and spiritual director, specialized in sabbatical.

After months of discussion and planning, we are pleased to announce that beginning on June 16th and ending on July 21st, Chris will be taking a sabbatical. During this time, we ask that you join the elders and staff in praying for Chris and Emily as they rest refresh and renew their walk with God.
During his sabbatical, Chris will not be preaching or performing his normal day-to-day activities. We will have guest speakers for the six weeks Chris is on sabbatical, and other unexpected situations will be handled by the staff and the leadership team.

The church currently has a dynamic Pastoral Care Team ready to serve specific needs and those efforts can and will be followed up on and enhanced as needed during this time. During his sabbatical Chris will also be self-limiting his phone, his emails, and his social media interactions. Therefore, if you do have an urgent matter, please call the church office and someone on the church staff or leadership team will help to address your specific needs.

We encourage you to send Chris and Emily notes of encouragement to their home or the church office during this time and to be in prayer for them as they refresh and grow in their walk with God. A concept that we as a leadership team initially questioned, we now support and encourage. This is a great opportunity for Chris and Emily to replenish and transform. It is also a great opportunity for us as a church, to consider how we can continually work together to meet the spiritual needs of our church and our community.

We are so blessed to have an incredible and dedicated staff many of whom have served here for many years. The hope of the elders is that this sabbatical opportunity will serve to protect and strengthen the healthy team culture and relationships that already exist here within our church staff, leadership team, and congregation.

If you have any questions about this sabbatical opportunity please contact any church Elder Robert, Steve, David, Rod, Ed, or Tod. We thank you for your support and prayers during this process and always.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is preaching while Chris is away?
Chris has recruited six qualified area preachers to step into the pulpit and continue our Core 52 study. We encourage you to support these guest preachers. Please give them a warm welcome with open arms. They are here to support Chris while he is on sabbatical.
Preaching Schedule
June 16: Tracy Thomas of Second Church of Christ
June 23: Greg Taylor of Second Church of Christ
June 30: Robbie Ketcherside of Crossroads Christian Church
July 7: David Upchurch for the former Lincoln Christin University
July 14: David Upchurch
July 21: Mile Clark of Crossroads Christian Church
Who do I call if I need Chirs for counseling?
Our church staff and elders are willing to assist anyone during challenging times. If we find you need more assistance, we may recommend professional assistance.
What if there is an emergency with me or a loved one?
We have a Pastoral Team, staff and church leadership willing to serve in any situation. Please call the office or text any staff member with your emergency or concerns.
Office: (217) 427-2166
Cheryl Liggett: (217) 274-1912
Dora Crowl: (217)-427-5316
Ethan McGlumphry: (217) 499-5675
Who will officiate funerals?
Ethan McGlumphy, our Student Minister is trained in supporting families during difficult times. He would be honored to help your family during a time of grief.