XPastor tries to help churches by providing some of the essentials for running a church—items like job descriptions, employment applications, review forms and church policies. Below is the 2006 Sabbatical Policy of Grace Covenant Church of Austin, Texas.


A sabbatical is a time of enrichment and personal growth, to include rest, renewal, stimulation and development across spiritual, physical, and intellectual dimensions. The goal of the sabbatical is to ensure continued ministry excellence and faithfulness for the individual and the local church. Without this synergy, the purpose of the sabbatical is undermined.


A pastor initiates the sabbatical process by reaching the eligibility requirements and then submitting a plan for review by the Executive Team. Sabbaticals require a plan that is pre-approved and then a report after the sabbatical is completed.


Sabbaticals are limited to full time pastors. There is a distinction based upon the role of the pastor (e.g., senior, executive, and staff pastor). The pastor must have a minimum of seven years of service to be initially eligible; the frequency of eligibility is a minimum of seven years after the last sabbatical; the request for sabbatical must provide a minimum six months notice.


The timing for a sabbatical must be agreed to by the Executive Team. Such factors as time of year, the condition and stability of the pastor’s ministry and the impact on key church events are essential components of timing decisions. The transition of the ministry leadership before and after the sabbatical is an important consideration.


The costs to the church and the individual for the sabbatical will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Normal sabbaticals will be handled via compensation and benefits, as if the time were vacation. The Executive Team may approve education, travel or other expenses.


The Senior Pastor receives up to 12 weeks. The Executive Pastors receive up to 8 weeks for the initial sabbatical; up to 10 weeks for second and following sabbaticals. The Pastors receive up to 4 weeks for the initial sabbatical; duration will increase an additional 2 weeks with every successive sabbatical up to a total of 8 weeks.


Upon completion of a sabbatical, the pastor must make a commitment to the church to remain in good standing in that role for one year of service for every four weeks of sabbatical. Should the pastor be promoted or transferred to another position in the church, the time commitment will remain.


Where more than one sabbatical is requested for a period of time, the Executive Team will consider how multiple sabbaticals will impact the health of the church and decide on a case-by-case basis. As a rule, concurrent sabbaticals will be discouraged.


View original PDF: Sabbatical Policy