Dear Christ Community Family,
If you were present or listening online, you no doubt heard me mention my upcoming sabbatical. The Session has graciously approved that I take a sabbatical from May 1 to July 31.
Perhaps you were scratching your head thinking, “What in the world is a sabbatical? How will the sabbatical be spent? How will that impact our church?” These are all great questions! I hope to address each of them briefly, so you can understand and pray for God to accomplish His great work during this sabbatical.
What Is a Sabbatical?
The word sabbatical comes from the same word from which we get sabbath. It means “to stop” or “to cease.” For a pastor, a sabbatical does not mean to cease all work and take a giant vacation. While there certainly is time spent resting and enjoying family, that is not the main thing. Rather, the idea is to cease ordinary work, in order to experience productive rest and to engage in focused study and work that the regular demands of pastoral ministry do not allow. The goal of both the productive rest and focused work is to provide opportunity for deep spiritual renewal, refreshing personal and family time, and growth in personal walk and pastoral ministry.
How Will the Sabbatical Be Spent?
I plan to spend the sabbatical focusing on four areas: (1) Getting away to seek God for personal renewal, reflection and vision; (2) Enjoying special time with family (as a whole, as well as individual members); (3) Devoting time to do doctoral work, which will include spending time in St. Louis at Covenant Theological Seminary; (4) Working on strategic planning and systems that will enable me to be more effective in ministry. In addition to those four areas, I will be visiting with mentors and colleagues whom the Lord has used in my life, as well as visiting churches both locally and nationally. While I am out of town, my family will usually attend Christ Community. When I am in town, they will visit other churches with me.
How Will the Sabbatical Impact Christ Community?
My hope and prayer is that the sabbatical will have wonderful impact on Christ Community! While I am away, I am confident Christ Community will be well cared for. There will be strong preaching from the pulpit, covered by both staff and guest preachers. I am especially excited for how the Lord is going to work through a sermon series in Esther, which will begin on May 28th and finish on August 6th. I believe it is a timely series for Christ Community and am praying for tremendous fruit and blessing through it. The Session and Diaconate will continue to care well for this flock both spiritually and practically. The CCC Session has appointed Bassam Nader (along with his wife, Randa), a seasoned ministry couple, to provide pastoral care while I am away, in addition to the support of each shepherding elder to his shepherding group. We have no intention of merely maintaining ministry during these upcoming months. Rather, we have every hope and expectation of seeing Christ continue to build His church and press back the gates of hell. Upon my return, I trust the Lord will grant rich blessing to Christ Community through the work He has done during the time spent seeking His face.
Dear church family, would you pray earnestly for the Lord’s blessing on this time of sabbatical? Please pray for the Lord’s protection on the leadership and congregation of CCC, for the Spirit’s fullness of blessing on our people and ministries, and for the powerful advancement of Christ’s mission during this time. Further, please pray for my family and me. That God will enable this time to be spent well for all of His good purposes: that He might meet with me in a powerful, transforming way; that He might richly bless time with family, mentors and friends; that He might grant much growth and strengthening through doctoral studies; that He might grant renewed vision and increased clarity and direction in ministry; that I might return in the fullness and power of the Spirit for the blessing of God’s people, the advancement of Christ’s mission, and the glory of our God’s name. Thank you, dear church family, for your love, your commitment to prayer and encouragement, and for your faithfulness to Jesus and His church. Please know I will be earnestly and expectantly praying for you, as I am away.
Yours with love and gratitude in Christ,
Pastor Josiah Jones