Sabbaticals for EMM workers

For many years EMM has offered an extended home leave benefit (up to a year if eligible) for workers who have served six years or more overseas. This extended leave is given to provide time and space for maintaining relationships with the church community and supporters and staying connected to the worker’s own culture over the years of service.

More recently EMM has encouraged workers to use part of an extended leave for a time of sabbatical. A sabbatical is a proactive way to care for workers and invest in the future of the worker. Sabbaticals are a time to stop and disconnect from the ministry and support raising in order to experience spiritual refreshment, new vision, and strengthening of skills (which may include a course of study). Sometimes a sabbatical is part of discerning a coming transition. The Director of Human Resources at EMM does some coaching with each person who begins to plan and prepare for a sabbatical as part of an extended home leave.

Benefits of a sabbatical:
  • Being released from normal work activities for a time gives opportunities for rest, reflection, remembering, listening, and opening oneself up to his/her Creator
  • Restoration of vision, passion, and sense of call
  • Discerning and/or discovering what God is up to in one’s life
  • Evaluating priorities, relationships with God, spouse, and children, and future involvements
EMM recognizes that not all members of an MST have the opportunity to take a sabbatical. At the same time, EMM workers often are serving in locations where there is very little spiritual nurture, and we desire for them to have soul care and a time of refreshment in addition to speaking in churches and conducting fundraising activities during their home leave after six years of service. We desire to prevent burnout of our workers.

EMM desires that the MST be involved in discerning whether a worker takes this type of benefit, the timing of the sabbatical, and the activities the worker may be involved in during a sabbatical leave in relation to expected costs. A sabbatical is not an entitlement, but rather a privilege and a gift to enhance workers’ renewal for continuing service overseas. All sabbatical plans are discerned and planned by the worker with her/his MST with approval by EMM.

Workers are eligible for an extended home leave (which can include a sabbatical) after six consecutive years of service, if they return to an assignment for at least two additional years on the field after the home leave where there was a sabbatical. The overarching guideline for home leave (which includes sabbatical leave) is a maximum of 15 months during a consecutive seven-year period. There is a maximum allowance of 12 months for any one leave.

For overseas workers, sabbatical time and home leave run concurrently. An extended leave with a sabbatical aligns with the home leave policies and provisions.

Criteria for sabbatical plans
  • A distinct change of pace with activities that provide for spiritual, physical, and emotional refreshment, and may include participation in educational opportunities,
  • A resonance with EMM’s core values and commitments, but not a direct extension or continuation of regular duties
  • A commitment to an additional two  years of EMM service following the home leave when a sabbatical is taken
After careful discernment and planning with the worker’s MST, an extended leave, which includes a sabbatical plan, is expected to be incorporated ahead of time into the worker budget. Educational plans must be approved by both the EMM supervisor and the HR Director as well as the MST.

After careful discernment and planning by the worker, MST, and EMM, funds for education and enrichment may be included in the worker budget up to $1,000 per month per adult for an extended home leave (when there is a sabbatical planned which gives clear rationale for the educational study).