Being new on staff at PCPC, I was yet to have the privilege of conversing with Mark Davis one-on-one. So when the opportunity arose for me to interview him about his forthcoming sabbatical, I couldn’t pass it up. Two thoughts immediately struck me about him: First, he is marked with humility, being revealed by the kindness in his voice; second, he has a witty sense of humor—the evidence of a joy-filled man. I sat down to ask him ten questions regarding his sabbatical. I learned that it has been strategically designed for him to rest and reflect. This much-needed rest is purposed to restore focus and heighten his desire for Jesus’ abiding presence. Indeed, rest is a necessity of life; even Jesus desired rest (Mk 6:30–31).
1. Why are you taking a sabbatical?
We all need moments of rest and reflection. Really, it’s modeled after Christ and the Sabbath. There needs to be great attention given to the ideas of rest, reflection, and worship. It’s the Christ-inspired idea that we, ordained ministers at PCPC, need to have regular seasons of rest and reflection as a part of our lives. So in taking a sabbatical, I have the opportunity for reflection and hearing the voice of the Lord. It’s dealing with stuff in your life, and it reignites the joy of your salvation.
2. Why now?
Our session has in its personnel policies that each pastor receives a sabbatical every five years. This is a wise policy due to the demanding, non-stop nature of our job and calling. We need to recharge our batteries, so to speak. One of our elders said to me a year ago, “Hey, it’s time for you to take a sabbatical.” I agreed, but he suggested last summer. I couldn’t do that because I believe a sabbatical should be eagerly anticipated and also planned. Therefore I needed to plan ahead, and let our church and our staff prepare for it as well. Honestly, any time before this would have been too soon. There has been too much to attend to, but now I believe we’re in a great place—so it’s time. Plus, in 25 years of ministry—10 years on staff at PCPC and 4 years as senior pastor—I’ve never had one.
3. What do you hope to gain?
I hope to learn more and more what it means to abide in Christ—that my abiding will be stronger, by God’s grace. Second, I hope to truly learn what it means to be present in every area of my life—listening, conversing, especially with my wife and children. Third, I desire to understand God’s heart and call in regards to evangelism and making His name known.
Kristina, on the other hand, hopes I become a master carpenter in order to work on the house. [Laughs] No seriously, I pray that the Lord would reveal Himself in new and powerful ways making me like the disciples, who were unable to stop speaking about that which they had seen and heard. I long to continue learning that God’s grace is everything in our lives, and His desire for us to serve Him in ministry is one of the great blessings of life.
4. What will you be doing?
First of all, a sabbatical is not a vacation. I will specifically be working on the areas of evangelism and stillness. Unsure of what fruit this will yield, I want to explore what evangelism looks like in my own life and in the life of this church. I have many thoughts on evangelism, particularly in the world today, but I haven’t been able to write them down.
Regarding stillness, I’ll be exploring what it means to stop, listen, and follow. I’m asking: How can we as a church body pursue stillness more faithfully? I want to learn how to lead people on silent retreats. So I’ll be participating in a 7–10 day silent retreat in the mountains of North Carolina—alone. There will be no speaking. Someone will drop off food each morning, and I will spend each day in the Word, prayer, and meditation. Truthfully, I’m excited about it, but I suspect that it will be one of the most difficult things I have ever done—yet incredibly fruitful.
5. Will we see you at PCPC?
No, but we will be in Dallas part of the time. I’ll be spending one night a week at a cabin to work on the projects of evangelism and stillness. We will be taking some family time to go to the beach once my kids are out for the summer. Then I’ll take my silent retreat in July, and attend Family Camp in late July.
6. Where will you worship?
We will be worshipping at a variety of churches, which will be exciting. I’m interested in watching and learning from other churches. However, I might disguise myself and come to PCPC to observe [Smiles]. On the other hand, our kids will be worshipping at PCPC. Summer is big ministry time for our youth. While gone, we will miss worshipping with this body tremendously.
7. Who will be preaching?
The preaching will be done by a variety of our pastors. We have so many gifted preachers on our staff who take the Word of God seriously and delight in making Jesus known. Our pastors will be preaching on The Gospel according to… which is a study of characters throughout the scriptures. Now many have asked if Skip will be preaching this summer. No, Skip will start preaching in early fall, which I’m very excited about. During my sabbatical, Patrick will preach several times, as well as our other ministers. These men will bless our people immensely.
8. What if we see you in the grocery store?
Well, you probably won’t recognize me with my long hair and disguise [Snickers]. Just kidding. Certainly if you see me in the grocery store, you are welcome to come up and say hello—you can even buy my groceries [Chuckles].
9. How can we pray for you?
Pray that I would abide during this season. Pray that I would rest and be grateful for my salvation and the privilege of making known the name of Jesus. Pray against external and internal distractions as I pursue silence. Please pray for our good health and safety in travels. Then, pray that our church would continue to grow in its focus on Jesus Christ as our Head.
10. What can we expect in the fall when you return?
This fall will be an exciting time at PCPC. As I mentioned, I am excited that Skip is back on staff. The two of us sat down and worked on several ministry ideas, which we are excited about, but both Skip and I agreed that we should launch those pilot ministries in the fall. We’ll unveil more a little later, so be praying for Skip, because most of what he’ll be doing starts this fall. One example: Skip will be traveling around many Sunday school classes sharing his story and new ideas about ministries the Lord is bringing to our church. Fall 2012 will be an exciting time at PCPC.