Jul 012021 39 Responses

A Significant Family Announcement

“You can’t move home unless you are willing to stay.” That was the line I kept considering almost twenty years ago as Jenny and I were contemplating moving to Fort Smith. We continually reminded ourselves back then that you can move home anytime, but once you are here, it would be very difficult to leave.

Yet we chose to come home and came with the plan of staying for the rest of our ministry. I’ve long said, “It would take a very unique opportunity to get us to leave.”

But such an opportunity has arisen.

This week, I notified our elder board that I will resign as Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church effective August 1. (See my letter to the church HERE)

While professionally prudent, personally this is a very difficult decision. Not only is Fort Smith home with friends, family, and memories. Community Bible has been our family for nineteen years. We have had a fascinating two decades of growth and spiritual impact as we have lived life together. But the timing is right both for us and the church to experience a change.

Why Now?

While the opportunity that has been presented is unique (more on that below), there are other factors at play regarding the timing of this move. Before I tell you what those are, let me say what they are NOT. I have not been asked to leave. I’m not secretly mad. There is not an unspoken situation or circumstance that is causing the change. As I told the place where I’m going, “I could stay forever at Community and be completely happy.”

However, there are some circumstances that made me more receptive to this opportunity compared to those in the past.

1. Personally, I’m excited about a new challenge. While I do not feel as though I have grown complacent, being at the same job for nineteen years does breed some familiarity. I like the idea of trying something new, learning from different people, and seeing how other people do ministry.

2. While there are many strengths to being in Fort Smith, there are a few benefits to being in a larger population specifically one that would have more resources for young adults with special needs. This has been a reality Jenny and I have considered for the last two years.

3. The church could use a change. I love Community Bible. I believe it is well situated to have a tremendous impact on this region for the years to come. However, I think it needs a change. As long as I am there, it will be tough to make significant changes. Yet a new leader can do so quickly and easily. Community doesn’t need a different message, but to have a new voice preach the same Truth I have proclaimed can be effective. I believe this is the best move for the church.

So why now? Because this is the first attractive opportunity that has presented itself at a time where I felt it was right both for my family and the church.

Where Are You Going?

That’s where we have been. Here is where we are going.

Beginning in late August/early September, I will become the Married Life Pastor at Bayside Church in California (for a quick summary on the church click HERE). This position is being created with the hopes of building the largest church-based marriage ministry in the country. Our hope is not just to impact every marriage at Bayside, but to have a meaningful impact on how other churches across the country approach marriage ministry. In this role, I will speak, write, host conferences, hold retreats, publish books, and meet with couples.

While personally there was a pause when the job was offered because of having to move so far away, professionally it’s a great opportunity to focus more on the area in which I seem to have the greatest impact.

Risk and Fearless Families

Whenever I published my first book, someone suggested that I was writing in hopes of getting out of Fort Smith. I laughed. I have many questionable motivations, but writing was never a secret plan to find another job. Yet my last book is clearly linked to this move. It’s not that Fearless Families sold so well that people were beating down my door. Instead, the message of the book so impacted my life that it is enabling this move. Without having lived the message of the book, I likely would not have had the courage to pull the trigger on this move.

As someone who likes to have everything planned, have thought through all the issues, and hopefully have all the answers, every now and then I need to intentionally do something riskier than my nature is comfortable with. If we say we are going to celebrate courage then we better being taking courageous action on occasion. This move is correlated to the ideas in the book. It’s a move that forces my dependence upon God.

What About Community

While most people who read this website are not connected with Community Bible, many are. Thankfully, the membership of CB is in good hands. Our Board is acting quickly to identify a search team to find the next lead pastor. Beginning August 2, Richy Fisher will become the Interim Pastor. Under his leadership and the leadership of the staff, the ministry will continue without pause. The future of Community Bible is bright and I look forward to cheering her on (and also returning once a year to preach).

Jenny and I will forever be grateful for our time at home in Fort Smith. We are grateful for what God has done and head into this next venture with great anticipation of what God will do.

39 Responses to A Significant Family Announcement

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