Monday, May 25, 2020
Ministries Pastoral Health
A Definition of Pastoral Health

Pastoral Health finds its definition in the character, attributes and ministry of our Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  He is the prime example of pastoral health. We look to him for those elements of our own spiritual, emotional, and physical health. We also look to him for the disciplines that he and the Apostles modeled and taught.

The role of the Eastern Regional Pastoral Health Team, in concert with the individual conferences, is to encourage spiritual health by means of supportive pastoral relationships and by making available substantive resources to our pastors and their advocates that will enable them to facilitate their own pastoral health as they serve to facilitate the health of the local church family that God has called them to shepherd, by example and teaching.

The Regional Pastoral Health Team members serve by way of witness and not expertise. We have no other role than to walk together with our fellow pastors into a deeper love and conformity to the character of Christ by the freedom and grace of the Holy Spirit. We will do this by making ourselves available for those who desire similar relationships as we journey together.


Solely to help, we have identified four main areas of pastoral health seen in Jesus. We have also identified and listed twelve practical disciplines that--under the guidance and enabling of the Holy Spirit--will guarantee continued and improved pastoral health. We do not share these as a program or Christian “laws,” they are simply biblical and historic paths or practices to robust spiritual formation and Christlikeness.


  • Spiritual Health
  • Emotional Health
  • Psychological Health
  • Physical Health


·         Daily Abiding in Christ - Prayer and Waiting Before the Lord

·         Weekly Sabbath Day of rest & refreshment (on whatever day you choose to “cease”)

·         Fixing & Growing into our God-given Identity as “sons” of God (Rom. 8.14)

·         Solitude & Silence on a regular basis, in large doses

·         Scripture Reading, Meditation, and Contemplation or Lectio Divina

·         Healthy eating, High-nutrition foods

·         Moderate Physical Exercise, especially walking

·         Eliminate depreciating debt

·         Spiritual Friendships (that include mutual encouragement and discourage ministry isolation) / CPR’s

·         Identify your Energy Enhancers and Energy Drains and Adjust priorities

·         Develop and maintain a “Life Mission Statement” or “Rule of Life” as a helpful track

·         Initiate and Navigate a “Spiritual Renewal Leave” (A Ministry Sabbatical) every 5-7 years.

The men who currently serve have been appointed by their respective conferences as pastors to pastors. They each have a heart for pastors and the support and trust of their fellow pastors (as far as that is humanly possible to ascertain).

You may call upon your conference team member by sending an email to him at:

New York, Heritage, and Nova Scotia Conference Pastors can contact: Randy
Advocate Newsletter
2012 Newsletters    2013 Newsletters   2014 Newsletters 
Winter 2012    Spring 2013    Winter 2014
Fall 2012   Fall 2013   Spring 2014
        Summer 2014
        Fall 2014

We are encouraging every Pastor in the Region to identify an Advocate within their local church who they trust to serve as a prayer warrior, encourager, and champion for the Pastor.  They will receive a newsletter with articles, statistics, and suggestions on how to fulfill the role of an Advocate.  


The Region has provided speakers on this subject, maintains a pastoral health team who are gifted to serve as a Pastor to Pastors.  We keep a list of recommended reading, free vacation sites, and Sabbatical resources.  We will also work to arrange for pulpit supply while a Pastor is away.  


The following document has been accepted by the Executive Council of ACGC and the Regional Board.  We recommend that every Conference and local Church adopt this Sabbatical Plan so that our Pastors are able to receive the Biblical rest and restoration that is needed in ministry.  We also highly recommend Dr. David Alves two books on the subject, “A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors” and the companion book, “A Sabbatical Primer for Churches”. 


The Advent Christian General Conference (ACGC), in conjunction with the regional superintendents, recommend to the conferences and churches of North America that all vocational ministers be granted a compensated sabbatical in the seventh year of service to an individual church, and that such provision is included in the pastor’s job description/ministry agreement. ACGC, the regions and conferences will do all that they can to help facilitate these for the long-term benefit of our pastors.


The purpose of a sabbatical is for rest and spiritual refreshment that follows the biblical example of having a period of rest every seven years (Leviticus 25; Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). It will be used for professional development, family enrichment, spiritual renewal, and is an important part of pastoral health.


A sabbatical will enable the minister to be renewed through the vital pursuit of continuing education, extended time spent in spiritual formation, connection with family, and fresh mentoring by respected teachers. A sabbatical enables a minister to return to the responsibilities of the church with new energy, spiritual vision and effectiveness.

A sabbatical is not a vacation. Rather it is a time for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking anew from God's life-giving waters, and for regaining the enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.

Genesis and Leviticus speak of "Sabbath time" in terms of days, years and land usage. Since the Sabbath is recognized as a distinctive time in creation - as a gift of rest for both renewal and hope - Scripture infers that regular, periodic rejuvenation is vital in all areas of life. The Old Testament writers directed a time period for the soil to remain untilled so that it could replenish itself. Just like the soil, humans need a season to lie fallow for revitalization of one's collected well-being.

Pastoral health and wellness is at the heart of a good sabbatical plan. The constant pressures and 24/7 nature of the ministry takes a toll over years of service and need to be addressed on a regular basis. The day off, the day of recovery, the vacation and the educational opportunities, all work in conjunction with a sabbatical leave to better ensure the long-term health, strength and positional longevity of the professional pastor.

The demands, while not unlike any other high profile job, are different in that many of the pressures are life and death, spiritual and deeply emotional. Pastors typically have a very difficult time "unloading" due to the issues of integrity, confidentiality and collegiality. Therefore, it is imperative that the opportunity for long-term, sustained rest, recovery and release from those pressures be given and taken.

Every area of a pastor’s life should be considered during a sabbatical. This will include his/her marriage, family, physical, emotional, spiritual, professional and educational self. All of his/her life should be looked at during this extended time away from the rigors of the ministry, the schedule of church activities and his/her ministerial/pastoral duties.


- Renewed commitment to church

- Enhanced job performance

- Renewed emotional health

- Renewed devotional & prayer life

- Improvement in one or more competencies

- Rekindled sense of God's calling

- New vision

- Revitalization of spirit, mind and body

- Avoidance of burnout


- Pastor

- Pastor's family

- Congregation

- Church leadership TERMS and CONDITIONS

·         May be taken after six years of continuous service.

·         Subsequent sabbaticals may be taken after each six-year period; beginning the year the previous sabbatical was taken.

·         The sabbatical is to be taken all at once. We recommend a duration of three months.

·         In a multi-staff setting, only one pastor may take a sabbatical during a given year.

·         The pastor is completely released from all responsibilities during the sabbatical.

·         Normally taken away from where church is located.

·         Sabbatical time may not be accumulated.


·         The local church is encouraged to develop a sabbatical plan for its pastor (or pastoral staff member) and submit it to the regional office six (6) months prior to implementation.

·         The pastor (or pastoral staff member) completes a Life and Ministry Inventory to be submitted along with the sabbatical plan.

·         The sabbatical plan will include: dates of the sabbatical: objective(s) (i.e. goals, enrichment plans, etc.); funding costs and remuneration plan; benefits for pastor, family and congregation; and a detailed plan for time usage.

·         Church leadership will be responsible for arranging preaching schedule.

·         A sabbatical primer should be read by the pastor and board chairman before submission of the plan.

·         A written report should be given to region/conference within one month of completion of sabbatical that summarizes the benefits and how the goals were met along with any issues that need further development.


·         Work with churches as they call new pastors to ensure that this plan is included.

·         Assist in finding replacements or interim for time of sabbatical.

·         Help with cost of replacements if possible.

·         Encourage pastor to consider shortfalls in his/her skill set to address during sabbatical.

·         Ensure pastor is not contacted by congregation during sabbatical, or vice-versa.

·         Conduct follow up with pastor after receipt of post-sabbatical report.

Recommended Reading List

Sabbatical Primer for Pastors                                        Dr. David Alves

Sabbatical Primer for Churches                                      Dr. David Alves

What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew                     Denise George

How To Beat Burn-Out                                                   Frank Minirth and Paul Meier

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming Burnout                     Ann Jackson

Pastors at Greater Risk                                                  H. B. London

Why Pastors Quit                                                          Bo Lane

Soul Keeping                                                                John Ortberg

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership                     Ruth Haley Barton

Margin                                                                          Richard Swenson

Building Below the Water Line                                        Gordon MacDonald

Invitation to Solitude and Silence                                   Ruth Haley Barton

How to Keep the Pastor You Love                                 Jane Rubietta

15 Characteristics of Effective Pastors                           Kevin Mannoia & Larry Walkemeyer

The Heart of a Great Pastor                                           H.B. London

The Rest of God:  Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath           Mark Buchanan

Crafting a Rule of Life                                                   Steve Macchia & Mark Buchanan

Under the Unpredictable Plant                                        Eugene Peterson

Working the Angles                                                       Eugene Peterson

When I don’t Desire God:  Fighting for Joy                     John Piper

Dangerous Calling                                                         Paul David Tripp

Brothers, We are not Professionals                                John Piper

Eastern Regional Association -  Rochester, NH   03866-1913 - Phone: (603) 332-1412 - Fax: (603) 332-1648 
Home   |   Documents   |   Camps
Copyright 2015 by Eastern Regional Association