Have you ever had a place where you really felt at home? Maybe it was at a job, or a friend’s house. Maybe it was at school or church. Regardless of where it was, I know that you always looked forward to being there. It was a place that was safe, secure and where you belonged. That sounds like an amazing place to be, doesn’t it? A place where you are known and loved… A place you can call home.
For me, Cypress Baptist Church has always been that place. I began attending Cypress basically at birth, and have been there since. Many of the people there have known me since I was born, and have seen or been a part of my growth. I accepted Christ while at Cypress, and was baptized there (twice actually). At Cypress, I went from a person who was happy just attending church, to a person who is now engaged in serving the church. I know for a fact that without Cypress, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for that, I am grateful.
In addition, I have had the honor of serving on the leadership staff at Cypress. Serving as part of the leadership of Cypress for the last few years has solidified God’s calling on my life, and my giftedness in areas of teaching, hospitality and leadership. The church has allowed me to figure out what I have been put on this earth to do: to use my teaching gifts to proclaim the Gospel.
Which makes this next part especially difficult: this past Sunday was my last week at Cypress. Carissa and I have decided to leave in pursuit of ministry. After much prayer and consideration (months of this), I have decided that this is what God has for me and Carissa in this season. In January, I quit a full-time, salaried job in order to go back to school to pursue a degree in Christian Leadership. I believe this was what God was calling me to, and He has made it abundantly clear to me that it was. He has blessed this decision in so many ways, and I know I am doing exactly what God wants for me right now, which is preparing myself to serve the church in full-time ministry.
One thing I did not consider is the toll this decision would take on me. I had to get another job, which is technically part-time, but it is still close to 30 hours a week. Add to that 15 units per semester, ministry, and being a relatively new husband, who is trying to learn how to be the best husband/ spiritual leader possible, and I am spent. There is not enough time to do all this, let alone do this well. So I prayed that God show me what needs to be removed so that I can pursue excellence in all I do. Through much prayer and sleepless nights, I believe God is calling me to leave Cypress, my current ministry home, to pursue this time of preparation fully.
That is what has led us to leaving Cypress. I understand that I could step out of my leadership roles and attend at Cypress, but I know me, and I know I would be miserable. I would be attending every Sunday wishing I was speaking, or leading worship, or whatever the service opportunity may be, and bitterness would set in. Knowing myself is important in this time, and that knowledge has led us to this decison.
I do understand that this does not look like it, but for me, this is as much a ministry decision as anything. I also understand that if I was leaving to take another position, it may be easier on people, but for me, that is what I am doing. I am leaving to fully engage in my preparation for ministry. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but I know that God is in it, and for me, that’s what it takes.
To everyone at Cypress, I would like to say thank you. There have been times in my life where Cypress was the closest thing to family I had. So many families there have opened their homes and families to me, and let me just do life with them. The people of Cypress are great, and not seeing them weekly is the hardest part about this decision. Cypress has allowed me to test my gifts, hone my gifts, and explore gifts, in order to best serve the church. This is something that I am unable to truly express my gratitude for.
I want you all to know that I love you. I love your heart for Jesus, and I love your willingness to allow people to figure out God’s desires for them. Don’t lose that. It is rare that a church will let a 22-year-old get up and speak multiple Sundays a year, but you all never shut that down as I was trying to develop my style and gifts. I appreciate your selfless grace in that season. You can know that I will be praying for you all. I want nothing more than for Cypress to blow up and keep growing like crazy. I want to see Cypress reach more and more people with the Gospel, which takes everyone getting their hands dirty. But I know you can do it!
So what’s next for Philip? Well, school for now. I am transferring in January to William Jessup, and will be able to start taking classes actually about my major. I will continue to write as I have time, and I will continue to pursue my calling. I am not moving out of Elk Grove, because our life is in Elk Grove. My wife and I did not want to attend other churches in this time, so we have not decided the church we will attend next yet. One thing is for sure, however; Cypress will always be home for me.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.