Almost 20 years ago I took my first sabbatical in Oxford. I was exhausted - more exhausted than I realised - and I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that that sabbatical, and subsequent ones, have kept me from burning out. I returned revived and rejuvenated and Magdalen Road Church became an enthusiastic supporter of sabbaticals! For the next decade or so we got into a rhythm of giving me a summer of rest, study, and envisioning, roughly every third year.
In the summer of 2013, I was due a sabbatical, but I had to pull out as preparations for launching Trinity were too demanding. At that time the elders promised that I could take a sabbatical as soon as the church could afford my absence, and at last that time as arrived!
After my last sabbatical from Magdalen Road Church in 2010 we formulated and presented what we called our 'Bold Gospel Plan.' The plan was to acquire a building, and establish a plant by 2015. Today, only a little behind schedule, Magdalen Road has its building, and has planted three churches including Trinity!
This sabbatical will be mainly about rest and starting to think about our vision for the next five years. I do have a few things that I might study, but my main felt need is to lay down the burden of 'my concern for the church' (2 Cor 11:28) for a little while.
I can't promise miracles on my return, but perhaps it will be used by God to clarify an even bolder gospel plan. Please do pray for me, as I will for you.