The Marketplace Sabbatical

Eric Hoke
November 22, 2023
5 min read
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Is ministry forever?

This week's blog will be a bit different because its just some raw thoughts I've been noodling on since having a conversation with a denominational leader this past week. Just to warn you, it's not going to be a fun read.

In short, this denominational leader told me about the unfortunate part of his job, which is working with pastors after they've disqualified themselves from ministry, typically for moral failures.

More often than not, when they identify the root cause of the failure, it isn't because the pastor in question was an awful tyrant of a human who hated the world and everything in it, but it was because they were stuck in ministry and felt like blowing it all up was the only way out.

He told me that he wishes he could could just shake them and say, "Why didn't you just tell someone you needed to get out of ministry! We could have helped you transition peacefully."

For many pastors, they can't fathom a world in which they're not in full time ministry and for others, they wouldn't let their pride let them make that step, so they took the most drastic move as possible.

It had me thinking about 3 things:

1. If we know that almost all things in life are 'seasons' why can't full time ministry be a 'season'?
2. If we know that the majority of people in our churches will never be paid clergy, how can we as pastors get closer to their lives and work to minister to them more effectively?
3. Would the idea of a 'Marketplace Sabbatical' be just what these pastors facing burnout need?

You may be wondering, what is a Marketplace Sabbatical?

No idea. I just made it up.

But I am imagining its a intentional space in a pastors life when they step away from full time vocational ministry to work in the marketplace, to grow new skills as a professional. and to learn what life is like for the everyday Christians that they minister to.

I have been accused of being overly optimistic but I could totally see a burnt out pastor taking a few years to work in the marketplace to give him or her a new appreciation for church, ministry and even Jesus.

I could see deep healing happen when pastors move from the 'givers' of God's graces to the 'receivers' of God's graces.

I could see ministers taking Marketplace Sabbaticals and then coming back stronger, healthier and more vibrant than ever, ready to lead in new ways.

What do you think? Am I overly optimistic? Or is taking a break from vocational ministry what some pastors may need?

Do you sense God may be calling you to a Marketplace Sabbatical, if so, give us a call.

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