In light of the events that unfolded after our services at the Paradise Campus this past Sunday, one young man asked his father-in-law: “Did BJ just get fired?” I think he was just kidding around with his father-in-law, but want to clarify the “leave of absence” that was given to me as a gift this past Sunday.
After each service, Russ Burran, from our Ministry Leadership Team (MLT) made an announcement that I was being given a “leave of absence” for several months this summer. The MLT is like a Board that works with me in serving our church by leading in our business affairs, and helping me as a prayer team, giving me counsel and holding me accountable. No, I’m not being fired, and Janet and I are not going anywhere!
The leave of absence is a 4 month sabbatical that the MLT graciously chose to give me for completing 10 years of service here at Grace as the Lead Pastor. My 10 Year Anniversary was at the end of January, but with all that was going on, we decided to wait until last week to share the details of the gift of this time off.
Sabbaticals are common at some Seminaries and have become more common among healthy churches. They are typically given for 7-10 years of service in order for the leader of the organization to have an extended time off (usually between 3-12 months) primarily to rest and be refreshed for the next season of ministry. They also include things like visiting other churches or ministries in order to learn and grow, writing books, or spending time growing in spiritual, emotional and physical health.
At this time, my sabbatical will be from mid-May until mid-September; I’ll preach my first message after this time away on September 14th. Some have asked: “What’s going to happen while you’re gone?” People are going to continue to serve and lives are going to continue to be changed as God continues His work here at Grace. Plus, we have a great lineup of speakers planned during the time I’m gone. Dr. Charles Lowery will be with us for 4 weeks, Tierce Green will be with us twice, Pastor Rocky & Pastor Scott will be speaking a few weeks, and we have some special events planned.
As one of our leaders told me Sunday morning: “I’m so glad we’re a healthy church that recognizes the need for this, and can allow you to experience this time of refreshing.” I’ll be visiting other churches and hopefully meeting with some of their leadership. I hope to experience a week long very in-depth counseling session geared specifically to assist the spiritual, emotional and physical health of pastors. I would like to spend some time writing a portion of a book that tells the story of “the miracle in the cow pasture” called Grace Fellowship. And, I’ll spend a week or so on vacation with Janet and my family.
As Russ shared Sunday, we’re just getting started and believe the next 10 years at Grace will be even better than the 1st. Janet and I believe this, and hope God allows us to be a part of the GFC Family for years! We love you and love serving God with the Grace Fellowship Family!
We are so grateful for you and for this blessed gift.