A Letter from Antley

 

River City Church Family, 

On Sunday, October 7, 2018, I announced to the church that I am starting the process to transition out of my role as Lead Pastor. 

I have so many thoughts and words that I want to share with each of you, and this email will not be sufficient. Thankfully, this email doesn't have to be sufficient because I won't be leaving RCC anytime soon. I'll have a number of months with you before my resignation takes effect and I look forward to connecting with you individually, and from the front on Sundays. There is so much that I want to share, including my feelings of gratitude and some of the incredible memories over the last fourteen years.  At times this will be emotional for me so I will probably insert a spontaneous  joke... I would appreciate roaring laughter in response! :-)  

So let me say this for now. Fourteen years ago, I was offered the opportunity to plant a church in Jacksonville. My response to God was, “I don’t know anything about starting and leading a church.” His response was, “I am not asking you to start a church, I am asking you to lead a family.” And I feel like that is exactly what we have done. Laura and I have raised our children in RCC, baptized them there, and have watched them grow in their understanding of who God is, as they have experienced the Father’s love for them through you. We have felt so cared for, loved, and appreciated by so many of you, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to minister to you, your family, and your friends. You have shown me so much grace and forgiveness as a leader, even when I made mistakes that were hurtful to you and others. 

Together, we have had quite the impact on this city and beyond. God has told an amazing story of redemption, healing, and transformation in our church's life. I have asked the Lord many times why he chose me for such a role and his response has always been that I needed to lead RCC in order to become who God created me to be. In the same way that He chose me to lead you, He also chose you to lead me, love me, and at times carry me in my journey of learning to receive His love. 

Why I am stepping down?

First, I want to say that it has nothing to do with anything RCC has done. I am excited for the season we are in. I feel like the staff and the leadership is healthier than they ever have been, and I believe the church is moving into a new and exciting season.

I do not feel angry or hurt. I do not have any negative emotions towards the church or the church leadership. When I turned 50 last December (I know that is shocking! I don’t look a day over 32:) ), I began to ask the Lord, “How would you like for me to spend the last ⅓ of my life? Continue in vocational ministry, or move to ministry outside of the church?” So we began to pray this prayer. 

At times, this ministry has been hard and it’s definitely taken its toll on my family and my health, especially recently.  I’ve also done some deep searching and discerning about the next move of God at RCC, and I believe that RCC is heading into a new season where my gifts may not be what RCC needs most. I am a pioneer, a risk taker, and I love the adventure of starting new things. I have learned that it is very rare for a pastor that starts a church to continue to lead the church over the long haul, because the skill set and gifts required to start a church are not the same as the ones necessary to lead the church through its middle and later years. Even though my love for you and the church has continued to grow, the passion I once had in my heart to lead the church has diminished. Over the last few weeks, God has spoken to me and Laura in many ways, signalling that this is the end of my season as the Lead Pastor. For all of these reasons, we feel like the Lord has called me to step down. We honestly believe that my decision to start the process of finding a successor, will be best for the future of RCC, and best for me and my family. We believe that the Lord has answered the prayer we began asking in January. We do not know what is next, but will be investigating those opportunities as they present themselves. Please pray with Laura and I for the Lord to speak clearly and lead us into this next chapter of our life. 

I'm confident and excited for all that God will do in these coming months! I am praying, as I always do, that there will be a greater and more powerful move of the Holy Spirit than we have ever experienced at RCC! Let’s pray together in expectation that He is going to do, “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20     

Love you all!!

Antley