This post is written by Matt Verhoff, KCC lay pastor/elder chairman

It is with great joy that the King’s Cross Church Council of Elders officially announce, after nearly two years of prayer and preparation, that we have commissioned Pastor Sam to take a twelve week Sabbatical this summer! Starting in June Sam and his family will begin a summer of travel that, Lord willing, will end with a trip to Malawi for Sam to connect with and encourage local church planters.  Pastor Matt Parks will be functioning in the role of lead pastor for the summer, and we’re bringing Levi Baus on as a worship music intern. 

Please pray for the Andres Family:

  • To rest in the Lord Jesus Himself through extended times of communion with God. Sam and Chelsea both want to grow in connection to the Holy Spirit in prayer.
  • To be humbled by the Lord where needed. To be built up in the Lord where needed.
  • To be increasingly sanctified in spirit, soul and body (1 Thess 5:23). More specifically, for the Lord to grow Sam in the spiritual fruits of gentleness and patience.
  • For a joyful and rested return with fresh energy for the kingdom of God in Defiance and around the world. 
  • For family time to be bonding and encouraging, and for safe travels as they cross the country going west.

What’s a Sabbatical? 

A few weeks ago in the introduction to his sermon on Daniel Chapter 9 Pastor Sam referenced the Biblical roots of the word sabbatical.  He explained how in the Old Covenant, Israel was instructed by God to observe a Sabbath year every 7th year by letting the ground go fallow (unplowed and unplanted) which in an agrarian society was basically a year with no work.  Additionally God commanded that after 7 cycles of the Sabbath year a Year of Jubilee was to be observed.  Which would result in back to back years of rest from most typical work.  

The idea of a year or even two with no work is hard to fathom for many in our modern Western culture.  Most of our lives are devoted to working in one way or another, in the home and outside the home, and as Pastor Sam pointed out with statistics we often don’t actually use the time off given us by our employers. It is fitting that one of his points of application to the church was an admonishment to rest, because I know that Sam does not always manage to use all of his allotted vacation time and can easily find himself working too much. It can be very difficult for those in vocational ministry to take the necessary time to rest and refresh themselves.  Even “days off” can be full of ministry interactions and duties.  You are never truly “off-duty” when you are a pastor.  The work of a pastor can be quite emotionally and spiritually taxing.  Burn-out and exhaustion are leaders among the reasons for leaving vocational ministry. Sabbaticals are a valuable tool for curbing the strain of being “on-call” 24-7.

    The Nuts and Bolts for KCC this Summer

    You may be thinking, “How are we possibly going to manage with Pastor Sam gone for 3 months?” That is a question we have been working on for quite some time. This process goes back quite a few years with research, strategic planning, budgeting, and prayer.  Incorporating a Sabbatical into the rhythms of the Pastors at KCC has been a goal of the Council for a long time, but really became an official project about two years ago when the FEC leadership put a call out to its churches to adopt formal Sabbatical policies into their employee handbooks.  We did some more research for a few months, adapted a policy from some templates provided from other organizations, sat on it for awhile, and eventually approved it in the spring of 2020. (Copies can be made available to members who are interested in the finer details.) Following the procedures laid out in the sabbatical policy, Pastor Sam was required to submit an intent to take a sabbatical one year before the proposed sabbatical would begin, and an official plan to carry out the sabbatical 6 months before its start.  The council of Elders joyfully approved Pastor Sam’s sabbatical plan in the required timeframe. 

    As a Church, we should expect our rhythms to be largely unchanged save for the absence of Pastor Sam. We are a church founded on the biblical principle of a Plurality of Eldership. Therefore, we believe and operate with a group of men chosen from and affirmed by the members of the church to serve in the office of Elder/Pastor.  Some are paid to devote their whole lives to prayer, preaching, teaching, and shepherding while others are employed in the “normal” workforce and devote their free time to those same tasks. We believe that whether it’s 10 hrs a week or 50 hours a week, the work of pastoral team is a shared work.  This is true when Pastor Sam is with us and true when he is on his Sabbatical.

    While on sabbatical, Sam will be expected to refrain from all KCC responsibilities. He will not be responsible for emails, texts, counseling, weddings, and funerals, or any other church responsibility. His relational connection will be limited to family, close friends, and a counselor.  He will largely stay off social media, email, and will shut off his phone for long periods of time as a spiritual discipline. His family will worship with another church body during this time because they will be out of Defiance for most of it. The elders will continue to lead the church with discipling, preaching and pastoral care, assisted by the KCC deacons. Pastor Parks will do the bulk of the preaching, but other pastors will share the pulpit, possibly including pastors from other FEC churches or other partner missionaries and church planters.

    Raising Up Leaders

    With Pastor Parks devoting much of his time to preaching and as a part of our mission to raise up more men for pastoral work and church planting we will be adding a summer intern who will focus on planning and leading the music for our worship gatherings. We are overjoyed and excited to announce that our very own Levi Baus has accepted our offer to be that intern!  Levi is finishing up his freshman year at Moody Bible Institute where he is studying Pastoral Ministry. If you have been a part of KCC for long, you may be feeling as privileged as we do to have seen Levi grow in his love of the Lord and his love of music. I can vividly remember the first Sunday Levi played piano on the music team years ago in the Schomburg auditorium after which Sam prophetically joked we were witnessing the future of worship music leadership in the making. I am truly excited and exceedingly thankful about what God is doing in our body, with Pastor Sam’s sabbatical and Levi’s internship at the forefront!

    This time without Pastor Sam will be great for him to recharge, refresh, refocus and will be a great exercise for the Elders to learn how to better share the load of Pastoring, as well as an opportunity for the whole church to engage with more of the pastors on a more frequent basis.  We are all always at your disposal for counsel or prayer!

    Written by Matt Verhoff, KCC elder chairman

    Additional Sabbatical Resources:

    https://fecministries.org/resources-all/soulcare/sabbatical-center/

    https://www.9marks.org/pastors-talk/on-pastoral-sabbaticals-with-jamie-dunlop-pastors-talk-ep-164/

    https://www.amazon.com/Sabbaticals-How-Ministry-before-Breaks-ebook/dp/B07HG4C3Y6