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Ministry Renewal Leave

Posted by Elders of Cedar Hills Church on

The What and Why of a Ministry Renewal Leave

This winter, we (the elders of Cedar Hills Church) facilitated a prayerful and thorough review of sabbaticals in our church. It was ultimately determined to replace the 2008 sabbatical policy and adopt a new approach, which we are calling Ministry Renewal Leave. This summary is intended to provide a brief overview of the what and the why behind a Ministry Renewal Leave.

What is a Ministry Renewal Leave?

A Ministry Renewal Leave is a carefully planned, church supported leave that allows full-time ministry staff the opportunity to step away from their regular church responsibilities in order to pursue renewal and growth. It is offered in every 4th year of ministry, and typically lasts 1 month. A Ministry Renewal Leave is not a vacation. Rather it is a time for rest, spiritual renewal, development of leadership, ministry vision, and ministry-focused learning.

Why the change to Ministry Renewal Leave?

As our church has grown, our staff has grown with it, and sustaining the previous sabbatical policy (a 3-4 month leave every 7 years) was becoming a challenge. Offering a 1 month leave every 4 years enables our leadership to be more responsive to the needs of our church. In addition, a Ministry Renewal Leave requires dramatically less preparation on the front end and less re-entry time when it is over.

The addition of a pre-determined area of growth and study was also a welcome addition to this new policy, encouraging staff to use a portion of their leave to visit other churches, conferences, and educational opportunities…something very difficult to do given the weekend commitment required when working for a local church.

Why is a policy like this important?

Healthy leaders produce healthy churches. While keeping a pastor employed for many years does not guarantee a church will grow, cycling through pastors every 3-6 years will, over time, essentially guarantee that a church will not grow. Therefore, periodic leaves are as much for the church as they are the leader. We are committed to ensuring Cedar Hills has healthy, growing, visionary leaders who are madly in love with Jesus.

What structure does Cedar Hills have in place for Ministry Renewal Leaves?

Because periodic leaves are vital to the long-term health of a church and it’s leaders, we have created and approved a Ministry Renewal Leave policy in April 2017. This three-page policy outlines the process of requesting, approving and overseeing a leave. As elders, we oversee and manage all Ministry Renewal Leaves.

Is a Ministry Renewal Leave scheduled for the immediate future?

Yes. Our lead pastor, Eric Rust, was eligible for a 3-4 month sabbatical in 2017. In light of our new policy, he and the elders agreed that he will take a 2 month Ministry Renewal Leave beginning July 3, 2017. He will return to his regular responsibilities on September 3, 2017.

After a long and productive season of ministry over the last few years, the timing of Eric’s leave is ideal. With strong financial stability, growing attendance, the depth of our ministry staff, a record number of new commitments to Jesus, and close to 30 active life groups, the health of our church is stronger than ever.

If I have more questions about Ministry Renewal Leaves, who can I speak with?

As elders, we are here to serve you to the best of our ability. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us…we’d love to hear from you and answer your questions. You can email us at or contact us by phone at 208-265-8500.

Thanks for the honor it is to serve each and every one of you!

Your Elders


     John Nishimoto

     Casey McLaughlin

     Alana Hatcher

     Chris Irvin

     Colin Moody

     Eric Rust

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