It’s Time To Get Out Of Town

You know the definition of “insanity,” right?

Doing things the same old way and expecting different results.

Sometimes we defend our insanity by insisting that we are victims.  Now, that is perhaps the worst kind of “insane rut” we can live.  In fact, some would say this way of living barely qualifies as “existence,” much less as “living.”

What is needed, is to break out of our ruts.  One might think this is obvious and would come easily, since change is all around us.  “The times, they are a’changing…”  Information is flowing in an amazingly vast and speedy flow.  But, the conventional wisdom of the past blind us to our complicity in our own “insanity.”

For some, conventional wisdom dictates that pastors should move every 3-7 years.  For others, conventional wisdom dictates that churches must have long pastorates of 20, 30, 40 years.  We are familiar with the logic of our own conventional wisdom about the preferred length for a pastorate at a given church.  But, does the church continue to benefit  from our so-called “wisdom” or from the ease with which we defend and explain it?

What has not changed is our mission as the Church.  The Church remains a missionary church.  And the way we went about being a missionary church in the past has, for most of us, become an insane response to our current crisis and our current opportunity.

What we need now, more than ever, are refreshed church leaders with fresh ideas and the eagerness and the willingness to do their best to lead the church in its mission to today’s world.  And, call me “crazy,” but I am convinced that pastors need to get out of town.

Pastors need regular sabbaticals.  They need consistent time away from the parish–and they need to spend this time swimming in someone else’s pond–someone else’s parish.  Visiting other churches, while serving your own, is a fantastic way to encounter the will and the energy to change–personally and in one’s professional outlook and habits.

The pastor’s absence during a ministry sabbatical also does wonders for the congregation.  This incites lay leaders to lead.  Hopefully, the parish brings in a “supply pastor” who brings a fresh voice for the parish to hear and a fresh set of eyes through which the parish can see itself and its community.

And what better way to fill a short-term pastoral vacancy than with a home exchange?  Either the pastor leaving on a sabbatical does a home exchange with another pastor.  Or a member of the congregation does a home exchange with another pastor.  One way or the other, the local church realizes that not only do they and their pastor need the sabbatical, but they can afford it.

No more excuses.  No more wringing the hands and saying, “But we can’t afford it.”  Only time for action.  And the realization that, “It’s time to get out of town.”

Photo: Hit The Road Jack by Przemko Stachowski is licensed under CC by 2.0.