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Dear Church,

For the past 18 months the Harvest Church Council has been in discussion with Pastor Vern about taking a Sabbatical. On behalf of the Church Council with Vern, I am pleased to state our intention that Vern’s Sabbatical takes place this coming summer.

Sabbaticals are a very normal thing in many organizations, and modeled after Scripture. The purpose is to provide a time away from the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ for the leader to renew his or her spirit, gain perspective, renew vision for the future, and build organizational and leadership capacity for the vision and future challenges that the leader and organization will face.

Additionally, did you know the drop out rate of pastors can hover around eight to nine out of ten that quit the profession before reaching retirement? Think on that: an 80% - 90% chance pastors burn out before retirement! A wise organization will take this into account and not live with a “head in the sand” approach to the clear threats to their organization’s success.

It’s important for me to state that Vern’s Sabbatical is in no way a result of any deficiency or failure; personal, spiritual, relational, or otherwise. In fact, a Sabbatical is an expression of health on our part as a church. Even so, it is our intention as a church to not sit idly by and ignore what statistics warn us of.

While it may seem like the blessing of a Sabbatical would go to Pastor Vern, Harvest Church in fact will be the primary beneficiary of Vern’s Sabbatical by providing a number of benefits:

  • A Sabbatical has the potential of raising the self-esteem of the organization.  When success is too linked to the primary leader it reveals an unhealthy development of co-dependency. Fears that the organization cannot fulfill its mandate without the constant presence and energy of the primary leader have the unwanted consequence of reducing the self-esteem of the organization.
  • A Sabbatical tests the emotional well being of the primary leader.  A leader who needs to be needed, to be on-stage, to hear the regular applause of others, can become emotionally dependent on the response of the organization in a way that leads to an unhealthy obsession.
  • A sabbatical tests the equipping and training models of the organizational as well as revealing whether and what leaders will rise to carry the load for a season.  Like a parent stepping away from the bike while teaching their child to ride people often don’t rise to a new level of responsibility or effectiveness until such a challenge is presented.
  • A sabbatical helps the leader evaluate organizational needs for a new season. The leader must also have time to reflect on his or her leadership style and what is needed at the next level. 
  • It answers the unspoken question of many, “What will happen if Vern leaves, dies, etc.?”  Answering this question by effective organizational performance during a sabbatical increases the security of the congregation as well as the staff.It protects one of the key assets of the organization.  One of the top responsibilities of governance is protecting the key assets, resources, and products of the organization.  Our Lead Pastor is such an asset.
  • It models that the organization is not driven by fear but health and, by example, shows the teachable spirit and learning culture that is part of the goal of the organization.
  • The sabbatical, if done properly, affirms the leader’s family.  Particularly in church plants or during significant change, the family has had to make significant sacrifices for the sake of the church.  Though often invisible to the church, these sacrifices, if taken for granted, are assumed to have had no negative impact on the leader or his family.  Such a constant drain can undermine family health. Unlike in other industries, if there is a melt down in the top leader’s family, the impact on the organization can be catastrophic.  While Harvest cannot do what the leader must do for the health of his or her family, the wise organization will not be blind to how they have benefited by the families sacrifice and will accept responsibility for extending tangible appreciation.

You will obviously hear more details about the Sabbatical in the coming weeks, such as the time period of the Sabbatical, goals, schedule, guest speakers, etc. We love Vern, Ramie, Emily, & Madeline and know you do as well and choose to honor their sacrifice over the past decade and allow Vern to prepare for the next season of his leadership.

Please be in prayer for the Streeter family and attentive to upcoming information about the Sabbatical.


Ed Mutch
Ex Officio Member of Harvest Council
Chair, Sabbatical Committee


Harvest Church Council; Neil Clark, Randy Finch, Wade Irion, Darrell Bonner, Eric Buehler, Kirk Joy, Crull Chambless, & Vern Streeter        

Harvest Sabbatical Committee; Ed Mutch, Derry Long, Marc Johnson, Tim Weidlich, Vern Streeter, & Crull Chambless


© 2010 Harvest Church | Phone (406) 259-5648

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