The following announcement was read by Pastor Craig, Sunday morning, November 5, 2017.
I have an important announcement to make. In 2008, when Debbie and I moved to Celina, we asked the Lord to let us finish our years in ministry here. We were tired of moving and wanted to have a place to raise our children, so when they were grown they would have a place to come home.
By God’s grace he allowed our children to grow up and go out on their own, before he called us away. I have known for years that God has gifted me as an entrepreneur/visionary. God gave me a vision for what the church could be and passion for what should be. My role was to plant this church creating environments that are appealing to the unbeliever and beneficial to the believer, and establish a strategy for continued growth while raising up those who will replace me.
I love our church. And I love where it is headed. I am thrilled with the staff God brought to Lifeway and am honored to begin handing it off over the next few months to those who are gifted to complete what I have begun. God has given Josh the gifts to serve as the lead pastor and he has given Mike the gifts to serve in a support role. Both are vital for the church.
You will continue seeing Josh preach about twice a month while he continues to give oversight to our student ministry, and while we search for his replacement. At the beginning of the new year, Josh will begin serving under my supervision as the lead pastor. Josh and Mike will take on most of the preaching. The final handoff will not occur until the spring of 2018.
I do want you to know that this decision is not a personal decision. It is a kingdom decision. I have always known that my role was to start the church and one day I would hand it off to another. What I have been waiting on was for God’s person who can do what I do as well as I can or better. We are at that time.
I am not retiring. Debbie and I are relocating to Colorado where I plan to begin a new ministry working with churches and church leaders, reproducing the same vision and strategy for the church that we have here at Lifeway.
I love you. I wish I could sit down with each of you individually. If I could I would thank you for ten wonderful years, and I would ask you, face to face, to support the transition. By God’s grace you will experience ongoing consistency of leadership and ministry. Often when a pastor resigns the people are left to figure it out on their own. That has never been an option for me. We are doing everything we can to make this transition seamless. I have complete confidence that these men will continue to build on what I have begun and they will make it better.
We have a few months to say our good-byes. So, let’s not worry about anything, but seek God first in everything—growing in the grace of giving, reading God’s word daily and praying, and living in community with one another—and let’s remain resolute to the task at hand of giving our life away to help others find and follow Jesus Christ.
The following letter is from the Elders of Lifeway Church:
Dear Lifeway Family,
It is with an abundance of gratitude and a healthy dose of sadness that we announce the resignation of our beloved Pastor and friend, Craig Walker. With a deep calling and vision, Craig planted Lifeway Church ten years ago, and he has led us well to the place we are today – a healthy, growing, God-honoring church that is making an impact for God’s Kingdom here in our area. Craig resigns with the same calling and vision to see Lifeway thrive and flourish in our community, trusting our church to new leadership.
We would like to thank Craig for his faithful years of service, and his unwavering commitment to the Lord and this church, for handing the leadership over well, and for setting Lifeway on a clear course to continue helping people find and follow Christ.
We are excited for the future of Lifeway Church and what God is going to do through the leadership of Josh Price, as he assumes the role of Lead Pastor in the Spring. It was with much prayer, as well as Craig’s blessing, that the elders have chosen Josh to step into this role. Josh is a strong, godly leader who holds deeply and is committed to the vision that Craig began ten years ago, and we are confident that Lifeway’s best days are yet to come. Craig will continue to serve through the coming months, taking the necessary time to ensure a smooth transition.
Thank you, Craig, for your love for God, your love for His people, and your love for this community over the past ten years. We are happy to have a little more time to serve alongside our Pastor, mentor, and dear friend.
The Elders of Lifeway Church
John Schmitt, Shane Edmiston, and Michael Rutig