Church Planting Announcement
Summit Crossing family,
As all of you know, we value transparency and honesty, and so I (Joel McCarty, Pastor of Missional Life) wanted to take a moment and share with each of you some thoughts and information regarding some things that God has been doing in mine and my wife Kristy’s heart over the past year or so.
First, I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for allowing me to have the humble honor of serving you as a part of the elder team here at Summit Crossing. If you were not able to make it to the Sunday gathering yesterday, I had the privilege of being affirmed as an elder, joining the plurality of men that lead and shepherd our body. If you missed the gathering, you can go back and listen to it on the sermon podcast. But I want each of you to know that this is something I do not take lightly, and by the grace of God, I commit to serving each of you faithfully as an under-shepherd of our chief shepherd, King Jesus. We love each of you, and we don’t say this lightly, but as an elder team, we are willing to be poured out as a sacrificial offering for the sake of your souls, as Christ was poured out for the sake of ours.
Our journey to this day has been quite a ride. Some of you may know our story, and some of you may not, but when we came to Summit Crossing Limestone, we came hurting, tired, beat up, and completely burnt out by the emptiness of religion. Little did we know that in God’s sovereign plan, He had sent us to the exact right place.
As we became a part of the Summit Crossing family, we were slowly and consistently cared for, shepherded, mentored, discipled, and nurtured back to spiritual and emotional health. And after some time, God gave us the honor of turning around and faithfully pouring back out our hearts to see the Kingdom advance, here locally and to the nations, by serving on staff here at Summit Crossing.
During that time, we’ve had the privilege of helping many, who just like us, were once tired and hurt by the emptiness of religion, now experience the freedom, joy, and abundant life that can only be found in the good news of Jesus and His Kingdom. We have indeed been honored and humbled to be a part of this church family, and we absolutely love all of you that make up Summit Crossing Limestone. It’s not about the name Summit Crossing. It’s about each of you, your beautiful faces, and the unity we have as we join with God on His mission. This local church in little old Athens, Alabama has become our family.
As you know, Summit Crossing cares deeply about seeing disciples made, and we believe that one of the most effective ways to see that happen is the God-ordained means of church planting, both locally and globally. When we became a part of the Summit Crossing family over five years ago, we were introduced to this incredible culture that valued sending out laborers for the Kingdom, and since that time our hearts have come to be fully aligned with this vision.
Over the last couple of years there have been moments where I have thought in the back of my mind that there was a desire to explore personally a call regarding church planting, but since we were so fulfilled and satisfied in the roles God had us serving in, I had always ignored the thought. But more and more, the idea continued to rise to the surface, and about nine months ago, my wife and I decided to enter into a season of actively praying and seeking the Spirit, having no idea where this process might lead.
We did not begin this journey of prayer alone. We sought outside affirmation and wisdom from mentors and peers, we spent much time seeking the Holy Spirit through prayer, and we explored the mission of God as laid out in Scripture, asking the specific part that He was calling us to play.
As we neared the end of 2018, it became clear to my wife and me that this was more than just a passing thought; we became convinced that this was a work of God. Through multiple conversations with trusted men both inside and outside the body of Summit Crossing, God affirmed that this was His work and that we were called to lead a church plant at some point in the future.
I could elaborate more fully as to how we’ve arrived at the specifics, but I will just get to what I’m wanting to share.
We are actively working toward leading a church plant in Decatur, Alabama. And our goal is to launch Sunday gatherings by the end of the summer of next year, 2020.
Obviously, this means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. We are well connected here within our church family, and so this makes the transition process all that more painful.
However, we are trusting God with His church, and we are utterly confident that He will take care of the necessary details that need to be worked out over the next 12-18 months. Though there are still some questions to be answered in regards to replacing the various roles that I currently serve in, myself and the elders are expending the necessary energy toward laying out a healthy plan of transition, and we’ve already seen God working to ensure the care of His bride here in Athens, Alabama. We are excited about what the future holds for each of you, as well as the people God is already raising up in Decatur to be a part of Kingdom advancement here in North Alabama.
Though this is an exciting time for us, one of the hardest things about coming to this decision has been that it means distance in relationships that literally mean the world to us. We have wept multiple times when we faced the reality that following Jesus in this manner meant leaving a people and a city that we absolutely love. When the day comes for us to physically move as a family, we will be leaving a piece of our hearts here in this city and among you all.
While there will be a sadness in this journey, my hope is in Jesus. We will have all of eternity in the new creation to hang out together, reign over cities together, play games together, sing songs together, and we will be pure worshipers of Jesus through every moment. And the city of Athens will be made new. No more division, no more pain, no more questions, no more fear, no more rebellion, no more prejudice, no more judgment, and no more sin.
Before we wrap this up, I did want to take a minute and share answers to a couple questions we anticipate you might be asking as a result of this announcement.
First, what does this mean about my current roles at Summit Crossing Limestone?
Currently, these roles are not changing. As I’ve been, I’ll continue working alongside our elders and staff to oversee our Missional Life efforts, our Student Discipleship efforts, and producing and managing our Creative content. As an elder team, we already have a few ideas regarding my transitioning out of these roles, and we are currently seeking clarity about what this might look like. We will keep you updated throughout this journey as we have confidence in regards to the timing and specifics, especially those of you who are most affected by the leadership in these areas.
And what does this mean regarding my new role as a part of the Elder Team?
Again, currently, this role does not change. I am fully committed to serving and shepherding the people here at Summit Crossing Limestone as a part of this team until the day we fully transition out. And we will communicate that day very clearly.
When I entered the process of discerning the call to eldership, I had no idea God was going to do what He has done in our hearts regarding church planting. The more formal elder process, which I began over 2 years ago, and the informal process of discerning God’s call regarding church planting, which I started around 9 months ago, were two separate things started at two different times, but I believe God has sovereignly affirmed both around the same time.
I am convinced that one of the reasons for my being raised up and called to serve as an elder during this season of transition is to give me a greater purpose and sense of responsibility for the care of the body here at Summit Crossing, as this call is not one I take lightly. And I have already felt and seen this work out tangibly in many ways.
I know that there might be more questions you have that we did not anticipate, and we completely understand that. I am 100% available to answer any questions regarding my current roles or the future church plant, and you can reach me at anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any of our other elders are also available at any time to answer any questions you may have.
And for those of you who may be interested in being a part of our church planting journey by either praying for us, being a financial partner, or by going with us, I’ll share with you all what that might look like as we solidify more details. But for now, you can all simply be praying for myself and others that are actively working toward this end. That being said, if you have immediate interest and want to hear more specifics in regards to needs and timeline, again, please email me at email@example.com and I would love to share with you what we are working toward.
Again, thank you for giving me the freedom to be transparent and honest and for allowing us to share our hearts. I love you all and consider it a great honor to serve alongside you. This is a hopeful time for us, church, and this is my prayer for all of you.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Pastor of Missional Life