Resources for Pastors and Congregations

Lis Van Harten

(Article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of Ministry Reports to Classes and Councils.)

With greater frequency, the office of Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) receives inquiries regarding sabbaticals for pastors. This is very encouraging as it indicates that councils/congregations are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits and the real need for pastors to experience sabbatical. Sabbaticals not only refresh the pastor’s soul, heart, and mind but ultimately impact congregational health. Healthy pastors, flourishing congregations - we need both.

SPE has created a webpage with sabbatical resources.  There you’ll find:

  • A document to assist councils as they create a sabbatical policy that is uniquely theirs.
  • A list of sabbatical opportunities including a number of retreat centers/lodges available to pastors (and sometimes their families) at no charge.
  • Fifty sabbatical policies from CRCs across Canada and the US.

To date SPE has published four training tools focusing on ministry. They’re downloadable from or free hard copies available from Faith Alive (1-800-333-8300).

Toward Effective Pastoral Mentoring: assisting mentors and mentees as together they explore parish ministry.

Effective Leadership in the Church:  helping congregations, pastors, and other church leaders effectively work together to accomplish God’s mission.

Closing Well—Continuing Strong: walking with pastors during their transition from ministry to retirement and beyond.

Marriage and Ministry: believing that a strong marriage nurtures effective ministry, this booklet addresses important issues related to the pastor’s marriage and ministry.

SPE has granted permission to Wesley Theological Seminary (United Methodist) and the Nebraska Pastoral Excellence Program (Disciples of Christ) to adapt two of the above publications for use in their denomination.