As the work day came to a close this past Monday, Ben Whipple began his eight-week sabbatical. Our staff had the privilege of praying with him Monday morning and then sending him off at the end of the day. I can't put into words the blessing that Ben is to our elder team, our staff, our church family and to me personally. He has generously, faithfully served Jesus at Sojourn for 9 years. To say "we will miss him" is a huge understatement but we are also very excited for him, Janet and their kids (Isaac, Micah and Claire).

This is just the second sabbatical that our church has ever given. The first one was for me in 2017. If you were here then, you know how well it went for me, my family and Sojourn Church. There were some nerves on the front end as none of us knew how it would go but God provided in beautiful ways. We are praying for the same during Ben's sabbatical and we are confident that the very same God who graciously carried us in 2017 will graciously carry us in 2019.

Sabbaticals are rooted in rest and renewal. We believe that two of God's great gifts are work and rest...so we want to value both. Overworking and laziness are both distortions of these good gifts...so we want to reject both. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of a sabbatical, here is a definition that we have found helpful: "a sabbatical is a planned period of time away from normal responsibilities in order to spend an extended time in rest, renewal and refreshment." Spiritual vitality is actually a fundamental requirement for pastoral ministry. (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-11, Acts 6:4, etc.) A sabbatical offers time to foster this most crucial dynamic.

God has graciously allowed Sojourn Church to see the wisdom in sabbaticals and to provide an eight-week window as well as a financial gift to enable Ben and his family to pursue these goals. Ben and Janet have a plan to use it wisely but please consistently pray for them. They have never had a sabbatical before, they have three kids and they will be driving for some long stretches during the next few weeks. Pray that Ben finds rest and refreshment. Pray that the Whipple family will enjoy some special times of gospel renewal and deep relational connection with God and each other. (Ben and I have two brief phone calls scheduled in order to touch base on how they are doing and to see if there are specific things we could pray for as the sabbatical unfolds.)

It won't go perfect and that is okay. It will offer opportunities for the Whipple family and the Sojourn family to grow in their/our dependence on God and each other. These 8 weeks will go by fast even as they create lifelong memories. (I know this from experience!) Let's thank God for the Whipple family and for the Sojourn family. We have much to celebrate!

Hope to see you Sunday at 9 and 11 AM!

Matt Herron
Lead Pastor

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