Today was a big day at Cedar Creek. Today Richard Swift, our founding pastor, gave his retirement message. It was an emotionally charged morning, and I thought Richard did an excellent job in communicating words of thanks and appreciation. Was very powerful.
I was serving as student pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Aiken, SC in 1997 when I was meeting with some other student pastors for lunch. I was at a point where it was time to take a turn in the road, but wasn’t sure what that was. A friend of mine mentioned that he knew this pastor that was looking for a youth guy. The pastor was Richard Swift. Kim was working at Westinghouse SRS at the time and had a friend that attended there. She gave us a cassette tape (yes, a cassette tape) of one of the messages, and Kim and I both thought “Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to be a part of a church like that!” So, I contacted Richard and after a few months, on February 1st 1998, I began as student pastor at CCC. I was thrilled to be a part of the staff at CCC and was especially excited about serving under Richard.
Richard is one of my heroes. He is a man of faith, integrity and vision. He is a leader’s leader. He is an excellent communicator, administrator and captain. Richard loves people and want to see them meet Jesus. Most of all: Richard loves Jesus. You can see and hear it in his life.
Most of the blogs that I keep up with are blogs of church planters or churches that began fairly recently as church plants. As I have slowly began to learn just a little about church planting, I have developed an enormous amount of respect for them. While I am in no way an expert on church planting (and don’t claim to be), it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the amount of vision, prayer, teamwork, passion, faith, planning and just flat out hard work it takes to plant a church. Richard planted CCC in April of 1993, and it has grown to over 2500, has several hundred homes groups and has seen hundreds if not several thousands of people meet Jesus. I think I read a statistic that says that close to 80% of church plants fail. So needless to say, what has happened at Cedar Creek is the work of God. Thanks Richard for being “AVALable” to Jesus and for stepping out in faith (if you’re at creeker, you’ll get the AVALable part :).