A Special Announcement from our board chair, Jim Pierce.
Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America are:
- The President of the United States;
- A university president;
- A CEO of a hospital, and
- A pastor.
In other words, being a pastor is hard work.
Over 8 years ago, Paul and Jessica responded to God’s call on their lives to plant a new church in downtown Des Moines and thus started The Gateway Church. During this time, they have lead all efforts to organize the various ministries of our church and lead the functions of the day-to-day operations of our body. The amount of work and energy it takes to plant a church, nurture the growth of the body, and develop the skills necessary to be a Lead Pastor is monumental, by any measure. This endeavor can be a tremendously rewarding one and, at the same time, a grueling adventure. We are all here today because of Paul and Jessica’s obedience to this call.
During the past 8 years, Paul and Jessica have certainly taken time for family vacations and short getaways, as all of us do occasionally. However, it is time for Paul to take a little more time away from his Lead Pastor responsibilities and go on sabbatical - for a period of six weeks this summer. A sabbatical is a separate time away from the pastor’s ministry assignment and not considered as the pastor’s vacation. A sabbatical should be viewed as a time of healing, restoration, and renewal in body, mind, spirit, and vision.
For those of you not familiar with the term, sabbatical, its roots are in the biblical concept of Sabbath, or rest after six days or years. As we see in Scripture, in Genesis 2:1-3, God rested from the work of creation after six days. Deuteronomy 15 describes a period after seven years in which release from several kinds of debt and labor are itemized. The Year of Jubliee was to be practiced in Israel every 50 years to give the land opportunity to rest.
Scripture shows that God created people with a need for balance and structure. It is important that vocational pastors maintain their spiritual, physical, social, and mental health. According to Jesus, “the Sabbath was made for man.” (Mark 2:27) In a high-stress and pressure-filled culture, times of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional rejuvenation are essential. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for sabbaticals, the principle is that ministers of the Gospel need time to be refreshed and renewed.
This is also an excellent time for our church body to develop and strengthen areas of ministry and service. It is also an opportunity for a church to examine its tendency to become potentially dependent on the pastor. Our Board of Stewardship is supportive of Paul’s sabbatical and we, along with our Elders, are working carefully to plan and prepare ahead of time to serve the ministry needs of the church while he is gone.
Paul and Jessica will be gone from July 9 through August 16. During this time, we will have a variety of speakers fill in for Paul. Kate Mabee, our Office Manager, will be available to respond to needs of the congregation and will engage our leaders when needs arise.
I hope you will join us in praying for Paul and Jessica while they are gone. All of us can think of ways that Paul and Jess have touched our lives in very personal ways. We encourage everyone to find a way to let them know how much they mean to us and how much we want them to be blessed with this sabbatical.
- Jim Pierce, Board Chair