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Letter to Calvary Fellowship

May 16, 1999

Dear Calvary Family,

For nearly eight years, almost a quarter of my life, God has given me the awesome privilege of serving as Pastor here at Calvary Fellowship. I have never wanted to be any other place. We have loved and been loved, served and been served. We have shared in seeking the heart of God for our church and watched as He has brought together the incredible group of people that make up Calvary Fellowship today. God has continued to pull the missing pieces together enabling us to become a church that has the potential to have a tremendous impact on our community. The journey has been a wonderful adventure and we see an exciting future ahead for Calvary. This has made it difficult to come to grips with the fact that God is saying to Susan and me that we have taken Calvary as far as we are supposed to and that He has a new task for us. And yet, that is what we believe He is saying.

Beginning June 1, I will begin working full-time as a Catalytic Missionary / Community Transformation Consultant with Mission Houston.

In order to help you understand more clearly what is happening, let me address three questions:

WHAT HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS PLACE?

Since coming to Houston nearly eight years ago, God has developed within my life a real passion to see our city reached for Jesus Christ. City-reaching experts are beginning to learn that for a city to be transformed by the gospel it requires the whole church made up of evangelical congregations from across the city to be both unified and mobilized.

For the last two years I have worked with our Union Baptist Association and most recently with Mission Houston as the volunteer Community Transformation Coordinator for the Bay Area. During this time God has increased my desire to see our city "filled with the knowledge of His glory" (Habakuk 2:14) and deepened my conviction that it will never happen if the churches in the city continue to work in isolation from each other.

I have loved my ministry at Calvary and have never wanted to do anything else. I have never sought another position. When other churches have contacted me I have never sent my resume because I knew God wanted me here. Susan and I thought we would spend the rest of our ministry at Calvary Fellowship.

However, during this last year it has become very clear to us and others that God is raising us up for this new task. Many are convinced that for our city to be transformed it will require certain people to be willing to give full-time attention to it. It has been a very difficult journey for us to come to the place of trusting God enough in order to give up our ministry at Calvary. A friend shared with me these words that were very significant in helping us come to this place: "It is a sin to do the good that someone else can do and not do the good that only you can do."

We have realized that it would be disobedience for us to stay at Calvary doing the good things we love doing and not do the thing that God is uniquely calling us to do with Mission Houston. I feel like God has been preparing me for my whole life to serve Him in this new way.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SUSAN AND ME?

What has made this decision so hard is our love for you. You are not only our friends, you are our family. We have shared many joys as well as sorrows together. You have journeyed with us through many changes and hardships. You have prayed with us and for us. We have seen God do so many incredible things. One of the deep burdens we have struggled with is not wanting to discourage or hurt any of you. We have sought throughout our ministry to encourage and build you up. We have desired through our words and actions to inspire you towards greater love and faithfulness to our God. Our hope is that by our example of following God's calling on our life, even at great personal cost, you will be encouraged toward a deeper love and obedience in your own life.

What this means for our relationship to Calvary is that we are changing roles. Our desire is to stay as members of Calvary Fellowship. Part of my new responsibility will require me to be in other churches on Sunday mornings. Susan will continue to serve as one of our Preschool Coordinators, teach a Preschool Bible Study class, and work in our Ladies Ministry. I will contiue to lead one of our Home Groups. We are committed to Calvary and excited about our church's future.

Let me tell you briefly about Mission Houston and what I'll be doing with them. Mission Houston is a ministry that is called to serve the whole body of Christ in the Greater Houston area as it mobilizes to reach the whole city with the whole gospel resulting in the transformation of our city.

We have divided the city into 21 regions and we will serve in each of these communities. I will initially be responsible for the Bay Area, Montrose and the Heights. We will serve as catalysts and encouragers to bring pastors together in each region to pray. We will foster relationships of trust and together we will seek God's leadership in the transformation of that part of the city.

We will help each community develop a spiritual map. This may be a new term for you. It is simply like a topographic map but it contains more information that helps us see forces that are at work that aren't visible to the naked eye.

As pastors come together around a common map of their community, having heard from God in unity, we will serve as consultants for developing a strategic plan for joining him in his activity. As these plans are developed, we will link people and resources with God's plan. We will do this in a comprehensive manner that allows the whole body to connect, communicate, and function together. We believe this will result in a transformed community.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CALVARY FELLOWSHIP?

Our Pastoral Leadership Team is in place and has been meeting with me for over a month. These four men (Brian Horner, Phil Garrison, Dan Sherrel, and Tony Stella) have an incredible heart for God and love for Calvary Fellowship. They will provide strong leadership during this transition time. They are worthy of your trust and support!

You will be receiving a letter from them informing you of what our next steps will be.

Let me conclude with several thoughts.

  • I wish I could have sat down with each of you individually to tell you about these things but that was not possible. Please understand that not telling you individually doesn't mean that you aren't significant in our lives. You are very special to Susan and me and we treasure your friendships.

  • This is SAD but not BAD. It is sad for all of us but when God is at work it is never bad. I am convinced that if God is calling us away to do something new, it only means He is about to do something fresh and wonderful at Calvary Fellowship!

  • Stay engaged and committed. If in your discouragement you decide to pull back, you will miss out on what God is about to do. Now is the time to put even greater energy into the work God has given us. Each one of you is a vital part of Calvary Fellowship and you are needed, so get involved and stay connected!

I will always treasure the years that we have had to minister together and I look forward to many more in a different role. We will have many opportunities in the weeks ahead to talk. I will be preaching the next two Sundays and we are planning to visit all of the HOME Groups in the next few weeks. Susan and I love you and praise God for the blessing you are to our lives.

In Christ,

Pastor John


Calvary Fellowship
Dr. Brett Dutton, Pastor
1001 Pineloch Drive, Suite 600
Houston, Texas 77062
Phone: 281-480-0495
Fax: 281-480-7906

This page was last modified on 4/23/00 lkl.