For those of you who did not attend one of our services on Sunday, I want to personally convey what I said regarding a transition plan for me and a strategic plan for River Oaks. The following is what I communicated this morning at the end of my message:
One year from now, August 2018, I will be stepping down as Senior Pastor of River Oaks. By stepping down, I do not mean that I will be resigning. I will continue serving as an active member of the Teaching Team, leading our Compassion Ministries, the ROCC Park ministry and any other role the elders request of me.
I want to be clear about something; I was not forced into this decision in any way by the elders or staff. In fact, just the opposite is true. I have felt nothing but support from them as I wrestled with this issue. Ultimately, I made my decision through much prayer and many conversations with Gloria and a few trusted friends.
At the heart of the reason I made this decision is because I believe River Oaks is destined for greater things, both spiritually and numerically. I am just being honest with you and myself when I say that I am not the person to lead us there. It is going to take someone with more energy than I have to give and who has a better understanding of the emerging generations than I have.
So, what is the plan for replacing me as Senior Pastor in one year? The elders and I have had many discussions about this and have prayed about it a lot over the past year and a half. We have looked at it from every possible angle that we could think of and we believe God has led us to this conclusion: one year from now, the new lead pastor of River Oaks community Church, will be Drew Richey, our current Family Ministry Pastor and member of the Teaching Team.
Drew Richey is capable and qualified to lead this church into the future. Admittedly, he is young – he was born the year this church was founded in 1989 – but he is qualified. Drew is a 2011 graduate of Bethel College with a degree in “Youth Ministry and Adolescent Studies”. He is currently working on his Masters of Divinity degree at Indiana Wesleyan and will graduate two years from now. He has the skills and the abilities not only to teach, but to cast vision.
Additionally, Drew knows us. He is not an ‘outsider’ who has to learn our church or community cultures. He has been on staff for eight years, starting as a summer Student Ministry Intern in 2009 and was hired on staff shortly afterwards.
More importantly than his educational accomplishments and his knowledge of us, he is a godly man and has a godly heritage that was handed down to him by his parents and grandparents.
He is a leader and he has the respect of the other staff members and the elders. Personally, I enthusiastically endorse him as our next lead pastor.
The reason we decided to make this announcement at this time is so Drew can be the voice of an exciting strategic plan that has been forming among the elders and staff for several months.
Drew will be speaking the next two Sundays about where we are now and where we believe God is taking us in the future. I hope you will make it a priority to attend the next two Sundays to hear what those plans are. I also hope you will spend time every day, this week and next, in prayer for this ministry!