WHAT IS A SABBATICAL?
It is an extended time away from routine ministry duties for the purpose of experiencing God through an extended sabbath rest. It is meant to provide a time of special renewal for the pastor that will bring personal nourishment to his soul, a deeper relationship with the Lord, family refreshment and focus, and a clearer understanding of God's calling on his life. A sabbatical helps prevent ministry burnout and may give the pastor a fresh perspective for his ministry calling.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SABBATICALS?
"The concept of sabbatical is deeply rooted in Scripture. The term is derived from the Old Testament idea of "Sabbath." The Hebrew word means "rest." God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3). During the Hebrew children's exodus from Egypt, God directed them (Exodus 16:26) to gather the manna daily but to rest on the seventh day (Sabbath). In numerous Old Testament passages, God admonished his people to work six days but to devote the seventh day to God as a day of rest (Exodus 20:9-10, 23:12, 31:15, 34:21, 35:2; Leviticus 23:3 and Deuteronomy 5:13). Among the Israelites, God instituted the Sabbath year (Leviticus 25: 1-5). On every seventh year, the children of Israel were to refrain from farming the land and let the earth rest. Both the Israelites and the land benefited from the Sabbath rest. These passages suggest that there is a rhythm to life. As the man of wisdom said, "For everything there is a season" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Jesus' own life and ministry reflect a deep understanding and appreciation for the rhythms of life. The demands upon him were so great that his own ministry was punctuated with times of withdrawal for prayer and spiritual solitude (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 5:16, 6:12)." (Written by Tennessee Baptist Convention)
WHY HAVE THE GCAC ELDERS DECIDED TO GRANT THIS SABBATICAL?
We are following biblical and best practices for long-term ministry health.
- Soul Care - Spiritual renewal and recharging after Pastor Paul's 19 years of serving at GCAC.
- Family Renewal - Opportunity to invest more deeply in his marriage and relationship with his six children. The Renicks have several milestone events taking place this summer. A wedding and a graduation being some of them.
- Study - Gives opportunity to focus on future sermon series and preparation.
HAVE PREVIOUS PASTORS AT GCAC TAKEN SABBATICALS?
Yes, it has been a policy for the past fifteen years that we encourage our pastors to take a sabbatical after serving for at least 7 years. (Former Lead Pastor Richard LaFountain, Kelly Haux, Paul Goodman, and Jess Allan have all taken sabbaticals.)
WHEN WILL THE SABBATICAL TAKE PLACE?
Monday, June 3rd - Monday, August 26th, 2019. Returning to the office Tuesday, August 27th.
WHAT WILL PASTOR PAUL BE DOING WHILE HE IS AWAY?
- Traveling to Mexico to celebrate the marriage of his son, Seth R. to Ahly K.
- Beach time with family! (Pastor Paul's happy place.)
- Spending times of solitude for prayer and scripture reading. Pursuing a week stay at a retreat center for this purpose only.
- Spending time with each of his six children.
- Stealing time away with his bride for renewal and relationship building.
- Catching up on home projects that have been left undone due to a busy ministry schedule.
- Studying and reading books on leadership and sermon development.
WHAT IS THE COVERAGE PLAN FOR PASTORAL LEADERSHIP DURING PASTOR PAUL'S ABSENCE?
- Personnel Director: Pastor Paul Goodman will be giving oversight to church personnel.
- Pastoral Care: Pastor Ed Dixon, Pastoral Staff, Elders and Life Group Leaders will provide pastoral care for needs regarding illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, prayer requests, or special needs.
- Sunday Morning Worship Experience: Pastor Paul Renicks developed a preaching team schedule prior to sabbatical. Jess Allan will be giving oversight to the worship services along with the rest of the Pastoral Staff and Elders.
- Governance Authority: Tom Ball, head elder, will be serving as the chair of the elder board and the chair of the governing board during Pastor Paul's absence.
IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG THAT YOU ARE NOT TELLING US?
Thankfully, no. This is not a forced sabbatical. It is a well-timed, God ordained time of rest and renewal for Pastor Paul and his family. GCAC leadership is aware of the pressure and demands that a large church ministry places on its pastor and his family. A sabbatical helps prevent ministry burnout and expresses to our pastor our desire for long-term spiritual, emotional and physical health.
WHAT IS THE CHURCH'S ROLE DURING THIS SABBATICAL?
- Pray, encourage, and support Pastor Paul and his family.
- Respect the Renicks family time away.
- Pastor Paul will not be accessing his church email or church cell phone during this time. This is intended to give him a dedicated time of rest from his normal pastoral duties.
- They will be attending other churches during this time to experience how other churches lead their worship services and to worship without having responsibilities to lead.
- In case you are wondering, if you run into the Renicks family at the grocery store, yes you are allowed to talk to them. :)