Sabbatical Info

Letter from Bryan Fields, Lead Pastor

Hello Church,

Over the last nine years we’ve seen God do a significant work here at Cross Community. In some ways it’s been like a dream. We’ve gone from reaching an average of 100 people to 600+. We’ve started a second campus in Pocola and expanded our campus in Poteau. We’ve supported missionaries in other parts of the world. As I think about the future, I’m confident that the coming years will be even more fruitful than those in the past.

In order to prepare for that future, the elders and I feel that I should spend some time away from daily responsibilities to better hear God’s voice. I’m going to be taking a 12 week sabbatical beginning January 1, 2018. I will return on April 1 (Easter Sunday). The purpose of this time is to step back, connect with God, and listen closely to His leading. My hope is to return with a renewed sense of intimacy with God and clarified vision for Cross Community and our region. I’ve watched too many fellow pastors lose their ministry and family to burnout and I want to take steps to avoid that. To be clear, I’m NOT doing this because of any personal moral failure, marriage issues, or church issues. The elders have discussed a sabbatical policy for several years and we feel that now is the right time to implement it. I know this may sound like an unusual thing so I’ve prepared some information to explain in greater detail.

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period of stepping away from ministry for the purpose of rest, reflection, and prayer. My ultimate goal is to come back a better pastor and leader, but more importantly with a stronger connection to God and His heart for our church and region.

What will you do during this time?

I believe God has given me Isaiah 30:15 as a guide for the sabbatical. “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” From this verse, I’ll have four main areas of focus, which are as follows:

  1. Repentance: turning away from things that hurt and toward things that heal.
    • Receive guidance and accountability from a sabbatical coach, including bi-monthly counseling and assignments designed to strengthen the soul.
    • Read and reflect on the following books:
      • Hearing God by Dallas Willard
      • Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere
      • Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Barton
      • Sabbath by Wayne Muller
    • Develop a rough draft policy for self-care for CCC staff.
    • Write report for the elders and staff to share insights gained from the sabbatical.
  2. Rest: hitting the pause button from the everyday pressures of ministry.
    • Step away from all church related activities, responsibilities, interactions, and communication.
    • Spend lots of time with family and engage in recreational activities.
  3. Quietness: listening to God instead of speaking for Him.
    • Lean into God every day. Learn to hear His voice with increased clarity.
    • Take 3 extended spiritual retreats.
    • Travel to visit other churches and to be fed by other pastors.
  4. Trust: believing that God and God’s people are able to sustain things while I’m gone.
    • Step away and trust everything is going to be okay.
    • Don’t involve myself with ANY church issues.

Who will be in charge while you’re gone?

Our Executive Pastor, Jason Waymire, will be assuming the lead role in my absence. He will handle the majority of preaching and leadership responsibilities. This will ensure a smooth transition going into and coming out of the sabbatical. We will not be hiring any additional staff during this time.

Do others churches offer sabbaticals?

A growing number of churches are utilizing sabbaticals as a safeguard against pastors falling away or leaving ministry entirely. One of the realities that churches are facing is that pastors as a whole are not healthy. This is a definitive step to help with that.

Will you continue to get paid?

Yes. I realize you may have questions about this and I totally understand. I have a more lengthy response prepared if you’d like more detail. Just send an email to sabbatical@crosscommunity for further clarification. We want to be transparent through this whole process and that includes the handling of finances.

Who will you be accountable to during this sabbatical?

The elders will ultimately remain in authority over me during this time, but most of my interactions will be with a counselor who specializes in working with pastors. We are intentionally partnering with a counselor who has gifting and experience in working with pastors and churches in sabbatical planning, implementation, and follow-up. For more information on this you can go to

What do I do if I have other questions?

If you have questions that you’d like answered, you can email them at any time through this process to We’ll do our best to respond thoroughly and quickly.

Thank you in advance for your prayer and support during this time. My main request is that you join me in asking God to draw near to me as I draw near to Him. I love you church and am grateful to be your pastor.