I am currently on Sabbatical with my church. It has been interesting so far.
I began serving as a Youth Pastor and Music Director at Mennonite Christian Assembly in November 2006. My wife and I had spent all of 2005 serving as missionaries with YWAM, and we were expecting to be called back into full-time overseas missions any moment. That call never came, but a call to serving at a local church did.
I believe that we have served faithfully since 2006, and I was given a 3 month Sabbatical starting in January 2015 (with the birth of our fifth child).
I had some pretty big plans for the Sabbatical, but most of them have fallen a bit by the wayside.
Some of my big plans included:
- Spending time with family (immediate and extended) and getting acclimated to being a family of seven
- Completing the manuscript for a book that I am working on
- Spending a significant amount of time in Taylor’s Playground Recording Studio
- Helping local worship leaders by serving as a part of their worship team
- Visiting local churches to get a feel for how they “do church”
- Running… a lot
- Taking an in-depth recording class
So far the Sabbatical has not quite been what I was expecting.
The entire Sabbatical started a bit later than I had anticipated since our daughter was born a full week after her due date. (If you have ever had a baby go past the expected due date, then you can understand the strange funk of anxiety that comes with all of that.) Still, she was born healthy and wonderful, even if one week later than we had anticipated. I think we have become fairly acclimated to life as a family of seven. I have also had opportunities to spend time with my extended family, and that has been great.
The manuscript is not exactly coming along as well as I had hoped. That has been the project that so easily goes on the back-burner while higher priority items need to get done.
I have spent a fair amount of time in Taylor’s Playground, but not nearly what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, our family has just been passing the flu bug around and around, and it seems that I had to take a child to the doctor just about every day from mid January to mid February. That has been a bit stressful and has really hindered the progress that I was looking for, but it has also been a blessing that I am at home and available to take kids to the doctor so that my wife doesn’t have to.
I was able to help my good friend Rocky Favia, Jr. at Grace Mennonite Church by playing electric guitar for his worship team on the first Sunday in February. I really enjoyed getting a chance to observe his leadership and take in a service at Grace Mennonite Church. On the following weekend I planned to help my good friend Keith Byler at Fairlawn Mennonite Church by playing electric guitar for his worship team, as well. Unfortunately, the service was cancelled due to weather. It was still a great opportunity to be at his worship team practice on Thursday night and to play with the band.
On the first Sunday of our Sabbatical we visited Kidron Mennonite Church, which was the church that we were a part of prior to taking a position at MCA. Other than that, we have not really had (or taken) the opportunities to visit other churches just yet. I was able to visit Grace Mennonite Church when I played on their worship team, but the rest of the family went to MCA. It is just so much easier since our kids know what to do and we have a newborn baby to take care of. Visiting a different church while I am a part of their worship team just makes it very stressful and difficult for our family, so it seemed best for us to just go in separate directions. We hadn’t considered those factors while planning for the Sabbatical.
I have been running, but not necessarily a lot. I have really enjoyed getting to spend some time running with my brother, Brian. There are group runs every Wednesday and Thursday evening in Wooster. I am typically unable to be a part of those runs due to Youth Group on Wednesday nights and Worship Team rehearsal on Thursday nights. During the Sabbatical I have had a chance to make several of those group runs, but not as many as I would have liked to. I was hoping to run an average of 20-25 miles per week through the winter, but I am currently closer to 5-10. A lot of that is due to sickness and a lot of that is due to the terrible weather that we have had this winter. Perhaps I need a treadmill for next winter… haha.
That basically leaves the final big plan on the list… taking an in-depth recording class. I will be starting this one on Monday. I am anxious, excited, hopeful, nervous, and praying that God will really use this training in a powerful way for His Kingdom.
Although the Sabbatical has been a bit different than I had imagined it would be on the front end, I can see God’s hand in it all. I have been reminded of Proverbs 16:9, and I affirm that God’s ways are always better than mine.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)