22 April 2012 ~ Comments Off

Phillip’s Time Away

To my Cedar Creek Church Family:

 One of the things I love best about our church is that it has always been a place where people can be real, open and honest about our lives, our hurts and our struggles.  This truly is a safe place.  I have always tried to lead with integrity, transparency and honesty about my life, my family and my journey.  So today I want to share my heart with you.  I wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee with each one of you, but obviously that’s not possible.  So this is the best I can do.

 For the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of reflecting about the past thirteen years that I’ve been at Cedar Creek and specifically the past five years that I’ve been the senior pastor.  I’ve been looking honestly at my life, my family, our church and my leadership as your pastor.  There are a few things that God has made very clear to me and I want to share them with you.

 First, what God has done in and through our church these last five years has been nothing less than a miracle.  We’ve baptized over one-hundred people per year, connected hundreds in Home Group, launched two campuses, developed a strategic partnership with the YMCA (in a way that no other church in the country has done), developed global partnerships in some of the darkest and most difficult places in the world, while continuing to serve and impact our own community.  You’ve pledged and given over 18 million dollars in the last five years to make our vision a reality.  If you ever wonder, “is Cedar Creek Church really making a difference?”  The answer is absolutely YES!

 The second thing I’ve realized is that God accomplishing all of this through our church has required a lot of transition and change.  We’ve experienced more transitions and changes, in the last five years, than some churches experience in their lifetime.  While our mission and vision have remained unchanged, we’ve had changes in our facilities, our strategies, our staff and our style of worship.  While change is essential for growth, it is difficult to go through and even harder to lead through.  But I am convinced that for us to keep moving forward, change will always be needed and essential.

 Through this time of reflection, God has led me to some conclusions that I need to share with you:

 First, being your pastor has been one of the greatest joys of my life.  Other than Jesus and my family, nothing else compares to the joy I’ve experienced in living out our vision with you.

 Second, God has called me to be the pastor of Cedar Creek, so I’m not going anywhere.  Aiken is my home, Cedar Creek is my church, and as long as God will let me, I want to live out that call with you.

 Finally, as much joy as I’ve experienced in leading you these last five years, I have to tell you honestly that I am drained.  Your pastor is empty physically, emotionally and spiritually.  After talking with the senior leadership team and the deacons, I have realized that in order for me to honor God’s call I must take some time to recharge and to let God refresh and renew me.  I’m not talking about a two week vacation; I’m talking about an extended time completely away from the pressures, demands and stresses that come with this calling.  Because I love and care for you so much, this is hard for me to do, but it is something I must do to continue to lead you and to finish well in my life.  God has blessed us with an incredible leadership team and staff and I have complete confidence in them and that they will lead and care for you well in my absence. 

I also want you to clearly hear me say, there has not been a moral failure on my part, my marriage is not falling apart and my kids are fine.  But, they have lived out the joys and challenges of these last five years alongside of me.  They need some time with me and I need some time with them.  Because of that, some of my time away will be spent here in Aiken with them, some will be spent alone and some will be spent with spiritual mentors that God has placed in my life. I want to honor God, my family and our church by making the most of this gift of time.

 I know that you love us and that your heart has always been to do whatever you can to show us your love.  The best thing that you can do for me and for my family is to come together in unity as a church, love each other, love your staff, follow their leadership and above all, live out the vision of our church every day of your life.

 I love you Cedar Creek!


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