Dear Church Family – Information on Shane’s Sabbatical

Dear Church Family,

I have mentioned a few times in the last month about taking a sabbatical. We recently decided to begin in February. This may seem sudden, but the elders have been suggesting for the last few years that I take time off. Until now, things have prevented it from happening such as scheduling conflicts, staffing, and the like. We were originally shooting for this summer, but for a number of reasons, the best time seems to be now. (Here is a link where I talk more about the sabbatical and answer additional questions. Please watch when time allows.)

Today, many modes of constant communication are available to me—three Facebook accounts, three websites, Twitter, Instagram, Podbean, iTunes, Youtube, cell phone, emails, etc.— and so during this season, it’s vital to step away from these things as well as the day-to-day duties at WCF.

I want to assure you that nothing is wrong spiritually, physically, mentally, or emotionally. I feel great in these areas. The elders and the core team feel that it’s time to pause and reflect. In twenty years of ministry and almost ten years of church planting and sermon preparation, it’s been Go, Go, Go—from managing the radio stations to preparing up to three sermons a week to a myriad of other things.

The world says that “busyness equals success,” but God says that faithfulness and rest equal success. Throughout the Bible, a season of rest often precedes renewal. A pastor carries weight 24/7, so the purpose of a sabbatical is to step away from the daily activities in order to be refreshed and renewed. This is hard for those of us with a pastoral calling because our hearts are to always be available. We must be intentional, even ruthless, in shutting down for a season—following the pattern Jesus gave us in Luke 5:16 where He “frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.”

As Bill Gaultiere rightly noted: “In Western culture today we work hard for forty or more years and then ‘retire’ for a number of years of rest. But rest has its highest value when it’s interspersed with work. The rhythm of rest and work gives sustainable energy, perspective, and joy. We might rethink the modern concept of retirement in light of the Biblical teaching on the ‘Sabbatical year’ … The Sabbatical year in the Bible is every seventh year (Leviticus 25:1-13 and Exodus 23:10-11). The farmers and their land were called by God to rest that year and God promised a bumper crop the year before.”

The Sabbath is ultimately a lifestyle that finds enjoyment and empowerment in God as we intentionally take time to rest in Him. Therefore, the plan is for me to take off February through April. I won’t be involved in valley-wide events or church-related events during this time, as my focus will be seeking God’s will for the next stage of growth at WCF. Many feel that revival is right around the corner, and I want to be prepared.

Even though Morgan and the kids will be coming to WCF now and then, she will also be taking a break, so please keep that in mind. This is a time when we need everyone to step up and come to church to be a blessing—to give and not just receive.

We have an incredible team leading and serving WCF. The elders will perform weddings and memorial/funeral services and attend to the day-to-day operations of the church. We will have a few guest speakers on Sundays, and on Wednesdays you will hear from many different people in the congregation. I’m very excited about giving others the opportunity to pour into the WCF family. Come expecting to hear from God.

The early church didn’t center everything around a pastor preaching from the pulpit; they centered church around communion, fellowship, worship, and the reading and applying of God’s Word. I’m hoping that we can keep this in mind as we move forward.

I realize that a sabbatical is truly a blessing. There are others at this church who need it more than I do, and I wish I could give it to them—so I don’t take this break for granted. Thank you for allowing me to take this time and for your continued love and support.

I will close with these words from Dallas Willard: “I can state without wavering that the single greatest need of the church today is the restoration of ministers. What is required is a quite different approach to their life and work. It is a matter of leading them into a massive shift of the dynamics of their personality under God, and one that cannot be done by more books and conferences. They need to be taken out of circulation for a sufficiently long time to re-vision and restructure their lives in communion with Jesus and his kingdom.”

Shane Idleman

Jan. 27th, 2020