More Questions about My Sabbatical

blog4.1What will you be doing?

Some organizations and churches design sabbaticals to be a working sabbatical (eg., write a book, or a manual, further your education, etc.). First Baptist Church has designed my sabbatical to be for REST and REFRESHMENT. Ten years ago I believe it was this emphasis that helped me return with such energy and focus. It was in the context of resting that I received some clear direction from the Lord concerning our church. This time around, I am hoping for the same.

  • We will do some travel (Minnesota to see my folks, Cannon Beach for a Conference, and I’m hoping I can work out a trip to Alaska as well.)
  • I will be visiting a wide variety of churches each Sunday. This was extremely revealing during my last sabbatical. It really helped me see what things were lacking in the modern American church.
  • I will be working with a couple of churches as a coach/mentor. I hope to visit two churches in a more meaningful way than just a casual spectator. I have been invited to offer some outside perspective for these churches, to which I am looking forward.
  • I will be remodeling the playhouse in our back yard for the grandkids.

Will we hear from you?

Yes. I will be staying in the loop on happenings at First Baptist Church and I will be giving updates throughout the summer.

How is this sabbatical different from the first one?

The first sabbatical was more critical for my level of burnout. Today, I do not feel burnt out. I think this is primarily because God has put together such a competent staff at First Baptist who do such a good job in their areas of ministry. Therefore, I see this sabbatical being more about Bruce Young finishing strong. I do not want my life and ministry to go into pre-retirement mode. That is, a mode where you are just buying time until you retire, where you count down the years to a certain date. I want my last 10-15 years at First Baptist to be the most effective, most exciting, most radical of any of the previous decades. For this I need God’s vision and viewpoint!

Should everyone just hold their breath until you return?

No. Nein. Nyet. Should we stop serving food at the Food Bank until Bruce returns? Should we stop supporting our missions? Or, which lost person should we not respond to because our Senior Pastor is on a summer sabbatical?

The fact is the church is YOU! Not me! So, during the months of my sabbatical, First Baptist Church needs you as much as it ever has—your ministry, your attendance, and your giving.

The vision and calling of First Baptist Church (Ordinary people moving together toward extraordinary life change through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ) cannot, and should not, be paused because of my sabbatical.

Reflections On the Last Sabbatical

blog3.25Ten years ago I took my first Sabbatical. I needed it. After completing the first ten years of ministry at First Baptist Church, I was tired. I think it was a combination of less staff, a church structure which required far more meetings to effect changes than today, and a resistance to change that seemed always present. This time around (now completing my second decade) it is quite different. We have an extremely competent staff, a mature and qualified Leadership Board, and a very unified church body.

My first Sabbatical was all about rest and refreshment. As unspiritual as it all sounds, this was the primary goal. I remodeled my kitchen, painted the house and did some traveling. These were all very fun for me.

In the midst of these activities and going to various churches each Sunday, God made some deep impressions on me.

For one, I became disillusioned with so many of the churches we visited. They seemed so stuck in their own little kingdom. They, by and large, were boring and were quite unsuccessful at leading me to true worship and connecting with God—something I really wanted to do.

Second, I read some books that asked the question, “If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone in your community notice or care other than your own people?” This question lit a fire in me about what needed to happen when I returned to work. Today, much of what we know as the ministries of First Baptist were a direct result of this change of direction.

What about this Sabbatical?

This time around I have a more specific goal. Obviously there will still be the goal of rest and refreshment, but I am looking for what God has for First Baptist in the next ten years. For some reason, I see my leadership unfolding as three distinct decades of service. The first decade was about rebuilding and revitalizing the spiritual health and vitality of the church. The second decade has been about creating a spiritual footprint starting compassionate ministries toward our community (Foodbank, Basement, Transition House, our Rescue Mission partnership, Hyde Park Street Fair, Be the Remedy, Etc.). The third decade, I believe will be about reproduction and replication of what God has done and is doing. I think what has happened at Dry Creek Community Church is just the tip of the iceberg.

To this end I would ask you to be praying.

  • Pray for God’s voice and will to be heard.
  • Pray for rest. Pray for vision and dreams.
  • Pray for First Baptist Church while I’m gone that it may grow and gain strength even while I am away.

Pastor Bruce