SEPT 21, 2009
As you know from watching our years of kidding and teasing each
other from the pulpit, Doug Fields is one of my best friends and I love him
like a brother. We have so much fun together! He really is as funny and sharp
and brilliant as he is when he's on stage preaching a sermon that I've written
for him. (Just kidding about that last part!)
For several months now, Pastor Doug
has been feeling the tug of the Holy Spirit in his heart to do something new in
the next season of his ministry. I want you to know what's happening with him.
In today's media culture, we sometimes feel the suspicion that we may not be
getting the whole story" behind the news. Because of that, I asked Doug to
write this week's News & Views to hear directly from him and I'll add my
comments at the end his letter!
Love Letter To
Our Church Family- Pastor Doug Fields
For the last several months I have
sensed God leading me to something new and different. After a lot of prayer
with Cathy, my family, Pastor Rick, and others, I have decided to resign from
my role as a Saddleback pastor in order to follow God's lead. This step of
faith has been difficult and I'm already feeling the painful loss. But, as
difficult as it is, both Cathy and I are confident and excited in God's
As you might expect, Pastor Rick
has been wonderful to me during the decision making process. He has been a
pastor to me and I'm grateful for him. He gave me two months to continue to
pray and be certain of this decision and even told me I could write my own job
description to keep me on staff-that was so gracious. And once I was confident
of God's will, Rick gave me his unconditional support. Neither Rick nor any of
the other pastors wanted me to leave staff, but they obviously understand how
God can prompt us toward something new.
What am I going to do? Well,
there's not another specific job" that I'm departing to, but I am leaving
staff to pursue some incredible opportunities to express my writing and
teaching gifts. What I'm really doing is what I've taught you to do-listen
for God's whisper and obey it! Several people have said, You're
crazy to leave a secure Saddleback Church job during this unstable market."
Humanly speaking, they're right... following God doesn't always make sense, but I
know I need to do the right thing: listen and obey.
I can't even begin to put into words
how grateful I am for my 18 years serving at our church. I came here as a 28
year old youth pastor with a desire to love God, love others and help build
Saddleback Church. I have so many great memories and friendships and wonderful
feelings confirming God used me here. These have been incredible years for me!
From working with teenagers to teaching adults to building the Refinery to
starting Fuel to becoming closer to Jesus to hiding all of Rick's disgusting
Hawaiian shirts. It has been quite a ride! I am a better person and deeper
thinker and a more committed follower of Jesus because of my job and my
interactions with the wonderful people at Saddleback Church. When I think of
our church I know I am richly blessed indeed. If you didn't get to read
my dedication to you in my book Refuel, here's what I said".
DEDICATION: I would like to dedicate this book to the
people who call Saddleback Church their home. I love being one of your pastors!
I love teaching you the Bible. I love your passion for learning. I love your
concern for your neighbors. I love your commitment to pursuing God in all areas
of your lives. I love your dedication to giving-and giving generously. I
love talking to you and hearing about what God is doing in your lives. I love
As a family, Saddleback Church
will continue to be our church home. Our best friends are here... our small
group... and our ministry is here. I'm not resigning from church, just my staff
position. My kids will be involved in the high school ministry, Cathy is leading
a small group of teenage girls, and I will occasionally fill-in and preach for
Pastor Rick and teach in the high school ministry.
Well, there it is--that's the whole story in a nutshell. Rick and I and
the other church Elders wanted you to hear this news directly from me.
Unfortunately, many times when a pastor leaves a staff position there are crazy
rumors that start flying around. That shouldn't happen here, because
there's nothing wrong and I'm not upset about anything...actually,
I'm thrilled to be able to leave with integrity and strong leadership support.
So, now you can say you heard it straight from the horse's mouth (or the
donkey's...whichever you prefer).
This weekend, I'll have the privilege of teaching part 3 in our Life's
Healing Choices series. Then, after our current series, Rick has asked me
to preach a 3 week series in November. So we'll still be seeing one
another... the biggest difference is that I won't have to attend meetings
I can't wait to see your smiling
face this weekend as we open up God's Word and celebrate together!
So blessed! Pastor Doug
My words of
praise - from Pastor Rick
I love Doug Fields with all my heart! In my opinion he has been the
greatest Student Pastor in history. He and Cathy are dear friends and we've
been through so much together while building Saddleback Church.
Let's review: (1) Doug & family are NOT moving away. They'll continue
serving in ministry here. (2) Doug is resigning his staff role as one of
our pastors and will no longer have to carry the responsibilities and meetings
of being a pastor. He's going to write and speak and serve the Lord. (3)
Doug will continue to help me with preaching. He's actually speaking 4 of the
next 9 weeks. Beyond that, there's no other back story!"
When the beautiful Refinery was finished, I knew that Doug felt this was the
capstone of the most successful youth ministry in America. Doug has raised up and mentored a generation of Student Pastors who
are now taking leadership of our next generation of student ministry to the
next level, and God is leading Doug to another challenge.
Over the past 30 years, I've had literally hundreds of people join our church
staff, become dear friends while serving with us, and then, after a while,
leave our staff for a variety of reasons. As a young pastor in the ‘80s, I
felt only grief when staff left. But now my understanding of how God works in peoples'
lives is bigger. I've learned this important truth: God calls people through
Saddleback, not to Saddleback. What that means is that
God calls just the right person, at just the right time, to both serve our
church and to learn from our church. Then he sends them out to other
places as missionaries. We now have former Saddleback staff serving as
missionaries in other churches and ministries all around the world. I call
them our purpose driven agents!"
as Doug preaches, I am proclaiming it Doug & Cathy Fields' Day! To
honor him for 18 years of ministry with us, I want us to pack out every
service in his honor, and give him a sustained standing ovation before he
preaches! Will you help me do this? It will be an historic week to thank Doug
for his dedication to our church.
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