About Mike's Sabbatical:
Dear Littleton Christian Church Family,
As many of you know, Littleton Christian Church is generously allowing me to take a 12-week sabbatical from June 27 to September 18 of this year.
What is a Sabbatical, Anyway?
According to Genesis 1, God created the world to function with a cycle of work and rest – he created for six days, and rested on the seventh. He commands his people to continue that cycle in the fourth commandment – to rest from our labors on the Sabbath. The word “sabbatical” comes from the word “Sabbath.” Later, he commands his people to care for the earth in a similar cycle – planting and harvesting a field for six years, and then resting it on the seventh.
Several professions have a tradition of sabbaticals. College and university professors often take sabbaticals for research or writing. The Church also has this tradition for ministers to refresh, refocus, learn more broadly, and rest. Let me be clear: we are not under any illusion that vocational ministry is more emotionally or spiritually taxing than many other professions! Everyone reading this letter might want to consider what a healthy cycle of rest looks like for you. Rest is a command and a discipline, and in the church we have an opportunity to exemplify the biblical life in order to show the goodness, power, and trustworthiness of God. It should come as no surprise that ministers who receive the gift of a sabbatical are less likely to burn out, and tend to stay fresh in vision and passion for ministry.
After the church called me to a full-time position in 2007, the congregation voted to include a requirement of a 12-week sabbatical every 7 years in my contract. Many pastors do not recieve this benefit from their congregation, either for ideological reasons or for financial reasons. I am so grateful this church acted with faith in God and care for me back then. Other pastors I know avoid their sabbatical until they are on the verge of burnout, ready to quit. This is not true for me! I love my job and I’ve been reluctant to take this step. Significant accountability partners in my life have challenged me to do it, and I am joyfully submitted to them.
About This Sabbatical...
I sense this sabbatical will accomplish several things. First, it is a season of rest for my young family. Second, I hope to gain a greater perspective on what God is doing in the world. Third, I need to grow in my trust of God’s care for this church he has built. Finally, I need to take some steps toward a couple ministry-related goals I have not been able to accomplish while occupied with my normal duties.
But this sabbatical is not just for Mike and his family - it is a huge opportunity for LCC. The leadership of the church agrees God intends to use this time to unleash more of the gifts he has given the people of LCC. I genuinely believe this is God’s plan.
One of the ways God is leading Erin and I to gain a greater perspective on what he is doing in the world is through a 2-week learning and serving journey in Nairobi, Kenya. This trip is with Transformational Ventures, who primarily works to empower businesses all over the world for the sake of community development and human flourishing, and to make the good news of the gospel tangible. Erin and I will be assisting in several ways as we encourage teachers and church leaders and come alongside entrepreneur training sessions. Above all we will be there to learn from the believers in Nairobi.
You can be involved...
If you would like to come alongside this element of our Sabbatical season, there are several ways you can do that.
First and foremost, we are asking everyone who reads this letter to pray. You can pray for the church, that the body will step into God's plans for this time. You can pray during the first two weeks of July, both for God’s purposes while we’re in Kenya and for our children and our parents who will be spending time together here in Colorado while we’re gone. And of course you can pray that I use the 12 weeks wisely to prepare for the upcoming seasons of ministry with LCC.
Second, please prayerfully consider additional financial support for the church as there is extra expense to honor the guest preachers who will bless the church during this time.
Third, consider financially supporting our trip to Kenya. The cost of this trip is $5200. We believe God plans to use this trip not only to continue drawing us toward Jesus, but also to draw Littleton Christian Church toward Jesus by showing us all what he's doing among our brothers and sisters in Nairobi.
If you would like to partner financially to help with any cost of this sabbatical, from the guest preachers to the learning and serving journey to Kenya, you can make a check payable to Littleton Christian Church and write “Sabbatical” in the memo line, or give online by clicking here (please include a note about Sabbatical expenses).
What else will happen in those 12 weeks?
When we return home, we plan to visit and encourage several of the churches who have faithfully partnered with LCC as we minister to Littleton and greater Denver. We are excited to expand our understanding for his plans in this lovely city. I will also be setting aside significant intentional time for broad reading and a couple writing projects that have not been feasible during my normal routine.
Above all, you are a critical and wonderful part of our support community as we serve the Body of Christ in Littleton. Thank you so much for your care, encouragement, and friendship. We can’t wait to see what God does next!
With love and gratitude,