Message on Pastor Jim’s Sabbatical

Dear Open Door Family,

In 2013, our Church Life Board (CLB) established a Sabbatical Policy for the Lead Pastor of our church. The policy states that for every seven years of full-time service at Open Door, the Lead Pastor is encouraged to take a sabbatical upon approval of the CLB. During the sabbatical, the pastor is not to be engaged in any regular ministry duties associated with Open Door and is encouraged to focus solely on spiritual rejuvenation, retooling for ministry, and rest. Before taking a sabbatical, the pastor must submit a written plan to the CLB outlining how he intends to use his sabbatical time.

Why did the CLB decide to institute this policy? It was designed to proactively provide greater effectiveness, health, and longevity for the leadership of our church. According to Barna Research, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Seminary statistics, almost 1500 pastors leave their ministry positions each month. 80% of pastors feel discouraged in their roles. 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates leave the ministry within the first five years. 70% of pastors constantly fight depression. Only 1 out of 10 pastors who start as a pastor retires as a pastor.

Those are sobering statistics. We don’t want that to happen at our church. Instead, we want healthy, effective, Christlike, growing pastors leading our church until Jesus returns.

To that end, Pastor Jim took his first sabbatical in 2017 and will take his second one this year, starting Monday, April 29, and extending through August 19. Pastor Jim has arranged for our excellent staff to cover all of his leadership and preaching responsibilities.

He will be spending his sabbatical at several prayer retreats, reading some books on prayer, meeting with several churches and discipleship specialists, working on a book he is writing on discipleship, and gearing up to lead our church further into its future, as well as taking some time to rest and get recharged for our next chapter at Open Door. We encourage you to pray for him during this time. I have asked Jim how we can best pray for him, and this is what he asked:

1. Pray that his time with God will be replenishing and strengthening. Pray he becomes more Christlike as a husband, father, friend, and pastor. Pray that he grows in loving God, loving people and living surrendered.

2. Pray that he will come back spiritually revitalized, having received from God fresh insight and vision for the future of our church.

3. Pray that in his praying, reading, and meetings, he will gain the kind of new tools, information, and perspective that will help him lead our church into the future.

4. Pray for his time with Andrea. Pray that when they are together, they will love each other well, and their marriage will honor God. Pray that during the weeks they will be apart, God will grow and strengthen them individually.

5. Pray for Executive Pastor Mark Geissbauer and our Open Door staff as they lead in his absence. We have an amazing staff team that is clear on our vision, mission, and values, which enables them to make wise decisions. Pray God will grant them even greater wisdom and courage to lead well.

6. Pray for our Campus Pastors who are preaching that God will use them to help us become more like Christ. Pray that we as a church will grow in Jim’s absence and take advantage of the summer to have more time to live out the 5B’s lovingly!

We will miss Pastor Jim, but this will be good for our church and the future ministry increase. Thank you for being a part of Open Door. It is a great church with a great future!

In Christ,

Alan Schafer
Chairman of the Church Life Board


May 05 2024


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Alan Schafer


Alan Schafer

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Jim Mindling
Jim Mindling
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