My last formal academic study of theology ended in 2002. So part of my sabbatical was spent auditing a Masters level course in Celtic Mission and Spirituality. It is one thing to come across prayers and liturgies to use in worship – it’s quite another to know about the traditions from which they came and how they have evolved. The course allowed some reflection on what we may learn from the Celtic Church, in terms of how we are Church today, and how and where we minister and share the gospel.
My Sabbatical was taken over Christmas. Instead of leading the services, I was able to see what someone else did. As ministers, we rarely get to see how anyone else leads or approaches worship. Christmas is also a time when families get together; this was the first time I have seen my Mum at Christmas in 10 years.
I spent some time looking at current underlying principles of Youth Ministry. It made me realize that we can take these principles into adult ministry and mission. This will inform the nature of how I exercise my ministry and understand the nature of mission and ministry of the church as a whole. The time to study and understand the theory will be woven into both my ministry and hopefully the wider ministry of the church as well. So often we simply try to meet the various demands placed upon us, but to put some intentionality into this, will benefit our mission and the building of the Kingdom.
To be released from normal duties has helped me to notice so much more. More about the nature of church, our mission, our culture, what is important to people. For example, today, people of faith and some who claim to have none, place a higher priority on experience. What is our experience of God? How does that inform our living? What is our experience of God at Church on a Sunday morning, or at other times too? Our mission today requires of us that we have the confidence to talk of our experience of God, of what we believe and how this informs our living.
My sabbatical has enabled me to reflect upon the last 10 years of ministry and be encouraged, challenged and inspired for the future years of ministry. The sabbatical has fed and refreshed me in God’s service, for which I am very grateful.