One of the first areas to be studied by the Church Coordinating Team has been the sabbatical program. The obvious reason for this was the need to review the program's alignment in view of the college's undergraduate move to Texas.
In looking squarely at the program, several things stood out: 1) It was not a sabbatical (in regard to a seven-year cycle). At the present rate of 15 men being brought in every year from the U.S. field ministry, it would take 20 years to cycle a man through if the number of employed ministers remained constant: 2) There were various reasons men came in or were brought in. Not everyone came in primarily for the educational opportunity. Some moves were considered partly corrective. In other cases, certain men just wanted a change of pace; 3) The program was instrumental in causing numerous ministerial transfers because of the domino effect it began.
In response to these deficiencies, several recommendations were made: 1) Redefine the educational program to meet current church educational needs; 2) Discontinue the designation "sabbatical program" (since it really isn't); 3) Attempt to handle all ministerial problems, whether personal or administrative, in the field; 4) Attempt to limit long-range transfers through fewer transfers and transferring within a region whenever possible.
The Graduate School of Theology, which was announced in last week's Pastor's Report, was designed in response to some of the needs discussed. As seen from this end, the school is an exciting development since it allows us, for the first time in a number of years, to bring a number of associated elements into closer proximity.
Items yet to be discussed will be the Church Division budget which will need to be formulated in the next few weeks. Also to be discussed will be the criteria for ministerial transfers. As commercial moving costs rise, it becomes more necessary to insure that every move is truly needed. A review of the transfer requests of the last several years shows a trend toward men wanting to rotate churches more frequently. Ideally, the attitude a pastor should assume towards his pastorate is a willingness to remain with that church for a lifetime. With that frame of mind, 3 man is more likely to give himself entirely to that church. This doesn't mean ministers won't be transferred when necessary. However, the average minister has been in his current pastorate just over three years, and this tends to create instability within the local congregation.