Slideshow image

“He restores my soul.” -Psalm 23:3

Kahului Baptist Church Constitution and By-laws Section 4 “Elders” subsection C3 (Page 18): 

“A sabbatical rest shall be granted to Vocational Elders every seventh year…Rest shall be defined as cessation of work from pastoral duties, the work of the ministry at Kahului Baptist Church, and an emphasis is to be on the restoration of their soul.”

I am extremely thankful and incredibly humbled to even receive such a season for rest and restoration. Since my first day as a young, inexperienced minister up to our current season in my 7th year, you, KBC, have been supportive and generous in your care for me. This is yet another sign of God’s working among you all. 

I wanted to write to answer (again) some questions some of you may have, or will haveand to list out some hopes and prayers for the church while I’m on Sabbatical.

What is a sabbatical?

Put simply a sabbatical is a season of rest from general pastoral duties. The practice has Biblical roots and while practices vary across disciplines and churches, generally sabbaticals includes the following elements in varying capacities depending on a number of factors: 

  • Rest
  • Relationship building with God, family, and friends. 
  • Recreation
  • Reading & Research
  • Reflection
  • Refocusing 
  • Return back to the ministry sharper, refreshed, and ready to serve in the next season. 

A sabbatical is NOT  

  • It is NOT vacation: In a vacation, typically, you completely unplug and have few if any goals or aims pertaining to ministerial tasks. On Sabbatical, I have specific tasks I hope to accomplish, complete, and learn for my own good and our collective growth in Christ-likeness. 
  • It is NOT an academic leave: Purely academic leave can be rather strenuous and demanding and often is not optimized for spiritual or relational renewal. 
  • It is NOT a time to search out a new ministry: I am NOT going to search or find a new place to serve as pastor. I don’t even plan to preach, although I could imagine a scenario where I do preach somewhere, in which case it would be to serve a fellow-servant in Christ and would NOT be regular or for the purpose of seeking out another position. We love our church ohana at KBC and have no desire to serve elsewhere. 

Is Now A Good Time For Sabbatical? 

We’ve had a ton of upheaval in 2020! Initially we were scheduled to leave May 1 for sabbatical. That has been pushed back and we (Pastor Bill included) believe there is sufficient stability and systems in place to account for various trials that could arise and as such this allows for me to take this time of extended leave. Additionally, I can see MANY valuable reasons, both personally and for the church, to take the sabbatical now, BEFORE things return to a new “normal.”

It will also serve as a good reminder for us all: “The LORD is my shepherd….” Our church went almost 2 years without a pastor at the helm, with men in the church rotating preaching and picking up pastoral duties. While it was difficult, it was doable, and I’m fully confident in the present leadership and members that you will fare-well in my absence.

It’s only 3 months…..what could go wrong?…..=)

Who do I go to if……?.

There’s any number of questions that may come up in my absence. We have Pastor Bill exercising general oversight of the church, and our Elder Apprentice Nick Tanaka on campus most of the week. For pastoral, spiritual, or other types of counseling or practical concerns, start there. 

We also have 7 deacons focused specifically in 4 different areas including Buildings & Grounds, Operations, Member Care, and Children’s ministry. You can find them on our website by clicking here: https://kahuluibaptist.com/about/our-deacons 

It’s important to remember, the deacons are task-specific, not necessarily a deacon-board. So if you had a question about a broken light-bulb or a safety matter, it’s best to notify a deacon of Building & Grounds. If you have a question about finance related matters, our Deacons of Operations would be a good place to start, If you have a question about Lord’s Supper or something that’s generally a pastoral task, feel free to ask Pastor Bill or Nick, etc. 

What if you had a tough week, struggled with sin, and just need encouragement? While any of the above would be helpful, honestly you could go to ANY trusted godly and wise brother or sister in the Lord (preferably of the same gender) and get prayer and encouragement. 

If you still aren’t sure where to go about a question, struggle, or concern, feel free to contact the church secretary, Lynn Kingsley, at the church office and she will be able to relay the matter to the appropriate person. 

What happens if…..?

What happens if there’s an unforeseen challenge, another hurricane, another COVID19 shutdown, some developing controversy, something that needs addressed, you have a major crisis in your life, or something else? 

The church is well-equipped with the Word of God, has the Holy Spirit, a faithful shepherd, deacons, and well-versed wise members in the body of Christ. I’m very confident that now, more than at any other point in the course of my ministry, that anything that arises will be biblically and lovingly addressed. 

In addition, Pastor Bill and Nick have been left with extensive guidance that covers a wide range of matters that may arise including a COVID19 outbreak at church, a natural disaster, and any number of other issues that may happen, so you are in excellent hands all around.

Does the church have any goals for sabbatical? 

Yes! I have a few prayers for the church in this season:

  • I pray that God’s Word would be pre-eminent, and not whoever the particular preacher is that week. So I pray you will eagerly hear God’s Word preached and receive it, no matter who it comes from. 
  • I pray we as a church would whole-heartedly embrace the task to raise up and train the next generation of heralds of God’s Word. Long before seminaries, churches were AND still are the premier training ground for those going into ministry. We are so blessed to have several who can preach and have shown their commitment to the body and our Lord via regular and consistent participation in small groups, Sunday Schools, or Mid-week services! And yes, come, support the men in the church as they preach, but don’t think it’s merely about being there for THEM. You should fully expect God to us them in your life just as much. We need to hear truths repeatedly, and from different people. Have you ever told your spouse or child something many times, only for someone else to say essentially the SAME thing and suddenly they grasp it or receive it in new ways? Yeah, all of us have had that, and we need that. Our hearts often need the same truth from many angles. I imagine you will hear the same truth in new ways from new voices, and it’ll bless your soul. 
  • I pray more of the body of Christ will use their gifting or cultivate gifting in news ways in my absence. Try to aim for the Isaiah model of ministry when you hear or see a need: “Here am I, send me…”
  • I pray you will increasingly see and respond positively to the pastoral authority and role of our other Elder, Pastor Bill. We are still fairly new to having multiple pastors here and Pastor Bill is not an associate pastor, or something less than myself. He’s a duly ordained and congregational-appointed Pastor at KBC, so I hope this is a sweet time of relational bonding with our faithful brother, Pastor Bill. PS. He’s my pastor too=). 
  • I pray our Elder Apprentice Nick Tanaka is able to gain new and valuable experience as he helps shepherd the flock in my absence and that the church also increasingly sees his calling and giftedness in new ways during this time. 
  • I pray for increased supernatural gospel unity. Make no mistake, with all God has done in these last 7 years, Satan does NOT want unity in our church. You should ALL look out for signs of his activity in your heart and mind. He sows discord amongst God’s people via disgruntled-ness, complaining, grumbling, gossip, envy, jealousy, strife, and pride. These are chief tools the enemy uses in the church to hinder or distract from gospel work. I pray you remain vigilant, actively walk in grace, love, patience, and humility, and esteem one-another as God would have you such that upon my return, I find unparalleled love, joy, and unity. 

Is there anything that would be unhelpful for me to do as a member? 

Absolutely. Under no circumstances are you to forge a golden-calf =). But seriously, keep yourselves from idols and guard against an overly critical-spirit and you’ll do well. 

Where am I going on Sabbatical? 

We will likely remain in the Hawaiian islands. Originally we were going to go to the mainland. While that’s still a possibility, we are keeping an eye on the ever changing State closures and COVID19 case increases, and will adjust accordingly. More than likely though we will island hop and cruise around on different islands. 

What am I going to be working on during sabbatical? 

In addition to general spiritual disciplines, pastorally, I hope to study various subjects pertaining to the Christian life, get plenty of reading done, check out other churches, interview other pastors, gain perspective, and continue to grow as a student of the Word. 

Relationally, I hope to have good intentional time with my wife and 3 children. I also look forward to worshipping WITH my family. It’s not often a pastor gets to go to church WITH his family. They’re always present, but dad isn’t with them in the pew, correcting them, receiving the preached Word with them, responding to the Word-preached with them, etc. It is a sweet gift to just worship with others as husband, father, and child of God. 

Personally, I have some projects and tasks related to my health and general interests I hope to accomplish on sabbatical. With all of this, I’ll have plenty to do from day to day. 

Closing thoughts: 

I pray that God’s unbound, unhindered Word would continue to have its powerful effect in this church in my absence. I hope to come back refreshed, and able to say at the end of my life: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). 

Not long ago, I spoke with 3 pastors on separate occasions who returned from sabbatical of their experience. One of them responded with all seriousness: “I wouldn’t be here now as a pastor if it wasn’t for that time.” The other 2 echoed similar sentiments regarding the value of that time for them. Pastoral ministry has unique joys and unique challenges KBC, and I am so thankful for this time. Please pray for me and my family as we will pray for you. 

It is has been a true joy and privilege to shepherd you all. We love you and will miss you. Farewell. 

Signing off, 

Pastor Randy