First Christian Church | Pittsfield


Growing Pains

05.25.22 | Michael's Corner | by Michael Ten Eyck

    Church Family,

    I remember a time, when our oldest was a child, he would awake in the middle of the night with pain in his legs.  He would amble downstairs with tears in his eyes holding his calves or his knees.  It was a bit frightening and we finally made an appointment to get it checked out.  We were told that he was experiencing “growing pains.” Apparently, this often happens at night when one sleeps.  Go figure, you actually can grow when you rest.  

    I have been thinking about that these last few weeks.  Amidst all of the family events, I have also been frantically preparing things at the church for my upcoming Sabbatical, a time of intentional rest and study. 

    For those who may not be aware, the Elder Team and Board have agreed for me to take a much-needed Sabbatical for part of the summer.  I will be rolling my vacation into this summer’s Sabbatical as a time to connect with family.  

    In Thom S. Rainer’s Church blog, he lists 5 reasons for churches to adopt the practice of Sabbatical rest. Rainer writes:

    1. A pastor has emotional highs and lows unlike most other vocations. In the course of a day, a pastor can deal with death, deep spiritual issues, great encouragement, petty criticisms, tragedies, illnesses, and celebrations of birth. The emotional roller coaster is draining. Your pastor needs a break—many times a break with no distractions.


    1. A pastor is on 24-hour call. Most pastors don’t have an “off” switch. They go to sleep with the knowledge they could be awakened by a phone call at anytime of the day. Vacations are rarely uninterrupted. It can be an exhausting vocation, and a sabbatical can be a welcome time to slow down.


    1. Pastors need time of uninterrupted study. It doesn’t usually happen in the study at church or home. There is always the crisis or need of the moment. Church members expect sermons that reflect much prayer and study. The pastor’s schedule often works against that ideal. The sabbatical can offer much needed, and uninterrupted, study time.


    1. Pastors who have sabbaticals have longer tenure at churches. Though my information is anecdotal, I do see the trend. And while I cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, I feel confident that pastors who have sabbaticals are much more likely to stay at a church because they are less likely to experience burnout.


    1. Pastors who have sabbaticals view the time off as an affirmation from their churches. I have heard from many pastors who share with me a sentence similar to this one: “I know my church loves me because they give me a sabbatical.” Pastors need affirmation. Sabbaticals can accomplish that goal.

    I am very appreciative of this time to recover and prepare for the next phase of our journey together.  I do not take it lightly.  I understand that this time will be tough on those who will be stepping up to cover duties around the church.  

    It is vitally important to see this time as an opportunity for growth for the entire church.  If we all lean into the Lord, and one another, this will be a blessed time. There may be some aches and pains along the way, but if we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, I am confident that this will be a blessed season of growth.   

    During this time, if there are any pastoral needs, please contact the church office or one of the FCC Elder Team.  

    You will be close in my prayers as we embark on this journey, and I look forward to how God will bless this endeavor. 

    Loving you all,