July 22, 2018
Statement of Resignation to Highpoint Fellowship, Cedar Park, TX
I will resign as Senior Pastor of Highpoint Fellowship on Sunday, October 14, 2018. It has been my joyful privilege to serve alongside you for the past 19 years as your pastor. From the blessing of the earliest members whom welcomed Karen and me into their lives as Karen and I were beginning our marriage and blending our two families, to the guests and new members whom we’ve come to love this year, you’ve honored us with the privilege of sharing life with you. And what a privilege it has been! We share hundreds and hundreds of memories with you—changed lives, celebrations, redemptions, healings, new beginnings, recoveries, baptisms, new locations, reconciliations, births, marriages, and home goings—as well as pain, losses, failures and miseries. You’ve given us the freedom to share all of these with you. It has been an honor. Thank you.
Karen and I love you deeply. You are gloriously generous. Your hearts are huge. Your hands are diligent to do good. You love the broken. Like God your Father, you lavish grace on others. You believe the best about God and his children. We will always remember you in our prayers asking God to continue to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better and better. How we love him with you! Karen and I are profoundly marked by sharing in God’s goodness with you.
You are to us “the presence of Christ.” We will profoundly miss the experience of being your “pastor” and “pastor’s wife.” Our emotions are all over the map. There’s no uncomplicated way to navigate them. They crash into boulders of grief and change and loss and uncertainty before rippling into still waters that reflect the green canopy of God’s grace. Sometimes our lips quiver when we smile. Neither our faces nor our hearts can control the cataract of our emotions. We’ve shared our entire married life with you. As a couple, we know no other church than you. We love you, and we will deeply miss sharing this special role with you.
We know that you, too, will have to navigate the currents and the boulders. Change. Uncertainty. Loss. Abandonment. Grief. And for some, even anger. We know this as we pray that you will trust God the Father who loves you and who will walk with you through these shadows to lead you to green pastures and quiet waters.
This change is right and good. Since 2015 a team of leaders and I have been planning for the retirement announcement that I’m making today. This team includes members from our Shepherds, our Trustees and our Staff as well as members of our church at large. The present configuration of this team includes members who have been praying and dedicating them to this project since 2015 as well as members who are new to the team this year.
This team is our Pastoral Succession Team and they are an outstanding group. They bring wisdom, energy, diversity and spiritual gifts. Included on this team are charter members of Highpoint as well as newer members of Highpoint. This team has accepted a vital role that is deeply spiritual and necessary.
One of the resources that has been valuable to this team is the book Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, the preface of which opens with these words: “Every pastor is an interim pastor.” It’s true. I’m interim. We’re all interim, but the body of Jesus Christ is eternal. For me, this ends over 40 years of being a senior pastor. I thank God for those years and his goodness to allow me to have served him in this way.
Karen and I have been contemplating a new chapter in our lives for some time. Karen retired from being a dyslexia specialist this summer so that she might devote more time in ministry to women. Over the past several months we have dreamed and prayed what a new season for her might look like, and having planned and prayed for pastoral succession at Highpoint, we began to ask deeper questions.
We’ve been asking God, “How we can use this next season of our lives to its fullest?” We’ve had many deep discussions. We’ve excitedly reviewed our mutual gifts, our abilities, our styles, and the ways that we already partner together. Knowing that we will have more time to work together has given us opportunity to dream together. These dreams have led us in previously unanticipated ways. How can we best use our mutual gifts in the next chapter of our lives? How do we use the storehouse of our life experiences in a common vision? How can we fully maximize our lives as a gift back to the Lord?
We both sense something new. We both sense a new fire, a new purpose, a new dream. Our prayer is that God will call you to share this new thing with us.
A little background. You’re not surprised that ministry is demanding work. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. Only one in ten people who enter ministry last to retirement age. Karen and I are struck by that as we celebrate our 65th birthdays this year. We’ve been reflecting. How have we made it this far when so many others haven’t?
One of several reasons is that we purposefully pay attention to the gas tank. Once the red-light blinks on, we proactively do something about it realizing that we can’ t give what we don’t have. For instance, two years ago we went to Michigan to receive the gifting of a five-day renewal with Broom Tree Ministries (broomtreeministries.org). We focused on our relationship with God and on our marriage. It was transformative in multiple ways, not the least of which is now giving new direction to God’s call on our lives.
Why did we travel all the way to Michigan to receive this gift? It was a long drive for sure, especially since I was jet lagged from an intensive mission trip to Thailand. There’s a simple reason. It was the closest one we could find to Cedar Park.
Karen and I are establishing Job 4:4 Ministries which offers Christian leaders a season of spiritual revitalization through a gifted five-day renewal to find revisioning, restoration and rest. Job 4:4 says, “When someone stumbled, weak and tired, your words encouraged them to stand.”
Michigan is a long way. Can Job 4:4 Ministries provide something better? Closer? Karen and I know what it’s like to stumble. To be weak and tired. Can God use our storehouse of life experiences—grief, ministry failure, ministry success, marital challenges, blended family challenges, leading established churches, helping to plant churches, domestic church work and international church work–to use our words and life to keep others on their feet?
We believe the mission of Karen and I working together in Job 4:4 Ministries will use all our gifts to make a significant difference for leaders who, in turn, will bless their communities and churches.
Karen and I also will offer counseling and coaching to ministry couples who may or may not attend the renewals. We are both actively doing this now. There are ministry couples serving in Austin today because God has used us to counsel and coach them. I have several young ministers who call me for ministry coaching and encouragement. Both Karen and I see Job 4:4 Ministries giving us an opportunity to work closely together.
We want to be able to offer the same kind of coaching and counseling to couples anywhere they are. We know that God can use our story and our words “to keep people on their feet” (Job 4:4).
This process has been a tremendous blessing to Karen and me. We have refined our life’ s vision and purpose together. We feel called by God to keep good families on their feet, to encourage them to fight the good fight, to finish the race and to keep their faith (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7). We’ve done this ourselves and want only to help others do the same. “When someone stumbled, weak and tired, your words encouraged them to stand.” That’s what we want to do in this next, and perhaps final, chapter of our lives.
We could not do this mission without the goodness that you have poured into our lives. You have changed us. You have prepared us for it. We came broken 19 years ago. A new move, a new marriage, and a new ministry at the same time. As we tell people, we’re not too bright. But God brought healing to us as He has to so, so many of you. You have shared everything with us and we with you. Thank you. And thank you for releasing us for this mission.
It’s time now for new leadership at Highpoint. A fresh vision. New energy. Expanding horizons. I’m so excited for you! You are well prepared for this new season. We are not abandoning you as orphans. God has given you strong leadership to navigate these waters. You have a heart for the broken, a dependence on the grace of God, a joy in the Holy Spirit, and an allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. How proud we are of you! How blessed your next chapter will be!
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart…” (Philippians 1:3-7a).
Karen and I both say, “We have you in our hearts. We love you deeply. We are eternally grateful for you. May God bless you richly in this exciting new season as you fulfill God’s purpose for Highpoint. Your very best chapters are ahead of you.”