youth ministry, youth worker

Sample Sabbatical Proposal

By Doug Franklin September 3, 2010

My senior pastor friend who recently got back from his three month sabbatical allowed me to use his proposal letter to help others draft one of their own. Note that he wrote this proposal in August of 2007 and did not take his sabbatical until summer of 2010, so planning your sabbatical a ways out is key. Note also this letter preceded a formal meeting to discuss the sabbatical proposal. Anyways, here is his sample. Hope it helps:

August 28, 2007
Dear Executive Board,
My wife and I had visitors in this past weekend.  As we toured them around the church we were all somewhat startled when we realized it has been five years since my departure from my last church.  Many wonderful things have transpired here during those five years.  Many challenges, however, still lie ahead.
My hope and prayer is that God will allow me the privilege of walking with this church family through those challenges and seeing Him do exciting things in and through us.  My desire is to continue as Senior Pastor here until I step into retirement.  With all my heart I want to finish strong.
There are, however, a couple of factors that will affect the accomplishment of that dream: skill and strength.  Let me explain what I mean:

1)  Skill
The world in which I work today is a very different place than the one into which I
graduated 30-plus years ago.  I often find my mind perplexed and my spirit troubled by the new challenges faced by the Church today.  In addition to that, a congregation of 500 (current church) is very different from a congregation of 250 (last church) requiring different skill sets of its leader. I am striving to develop those new skills and yet the demands of ministry, at times, make that a difficult task.

2)  Strength
It is not that a pastor works harder or longer than church members in the marketplace.  However, the separation of one’s professional and personal life when in the ministry can be difficult to maintain.  Add to that the various stress factors I have been called to bear over the last 10 years and I am noticing a growing weariness in my spirit. Where once there was energy and creativity within, I am finding, instead, a deep fatigue.

I cherish a dream, however.  In addition to my desire to finish strong as your pastor I dream of taking a sabbatical to renew my spirit and strengthen my skills.  The purpose of this letter is to ask your permission to begin planning a Pastoral Renewal Sabbatical beginning some time in the summer/ fall of 2009.  In over 30 years of ministry, working days, evenings and weekends and many holidays, I have never had a sabbatical.  Here is my thinking to this point:

1)  I would like to recruit a small team of people who would help me plan this experience…     people who know me well and can help me think through what sabbatical elements would be most beneficial for me as your pastor.  They would also assist me with presenting this proposal to the congregation before and after the actual sabbatical.

2)  The team would help me prepare an application to the Lilly Foundation – Clergy Renewal Program.  The Lilly Foundation makes 120 grants per year to pastors and their churches for the purpose of renewing pastors for ministry.  If we are accepted, the foundation would provide up to $45,000 for use on this sabbatical ($30,000 for my expenses and $15,000 for church expenses.)  The application deadline for the 2009 calendar year is May 15, 2008. I am currently in receipt of all the documents necessary to complete this application.

3)  I would also work with the church leadership to develop a plan that would strengthen our church during my absence (hence, the monies allocated to the church).  We would think through areas of training and development that would benefit the church the most…who might provide this training…what special programs might we want to take advantage of…who would best fill our pulpit…and so forth.  While I’m learning and growing the church will be doing the same thing.

I believe God called me to this church.  I believe God wants us to work together as we face future challenges and opportunities.  I also believe we can do that most effectively if I, your pastor, am renewed and refocused for the ministry that lies ahead.

Please prayerfully consider this request so that we can discuss the matter at length during the September Executive Board meeting.  Feel free to ask me questions between now and that meeting; I will be happy to discuss this proposal with you.

Blessings and love,

Mike did in fact get the Lily Foundation Grant, which was actually over the $45,000 amount. Pretty cool.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More