This topic was hotter than I expected.
I asked pastors and other church staff about the amount of time taken for vacations each year. Most of the responses came from pastors, and many of those pastors were pretty intense about it.
They spoke of their dire need for vacation time; of the constant interruptions during vacations; of learning the hard way about forfeiting vacation time; and about some church members who don’t believe pastors should take any vacation time.
After I put the survey out on social media, I received many responses. Here are the reported annual vacation times, mostly from pastors:
- None to 1 week 21%
- 2 weeks 28%
- 3 weeks 14%
- 4 weeks 25%
- 5 or more weeks 12%
The results were fascinating, almost forming a perfect bell curve. But note that nearly half of the pastors take only 0 to 2 weeks of vacation.
We also heard several other issues related to vacations:
- Very few pastors take all of their allocated vacation at one time.
- Many of the pastors were very sensitive about how many Sundays they missed. Some of them were in churches that would not let vacation time be inclusive of Sundays.
- Two factors typically contributed to more vacation time: size of the church and length of pastoral tenure.
- One-third of the pastors volunteered that they always take fewer vacation days than the church permits.
- Some of the pastors are challenged to take vacation time if their spouse works. Coordination of schedules is not always easy.
- Bi-vocational pastors, as a rule, have much greater difficulty taking vacations than other pastors.
What is your vacation schedule? What are some of your thoughts about vacations?
Let me hear from you.
Posted on October 25, 2017
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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