A Fond Farewell At Canyon Springs

Our church has been in a series called “Get out of the boat,” detailing the faith Peter took when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water toward Jesus. From the beginning, this church has given my family great opportunities to step out of the boat.

I will never forget the steps we took when we started the church. Our first step was to sell our home. It had done nothing but go down in value for 5 years, so we had to make a short sale to get out of it. Then we moved down here just as house prices had spiked upward. We couldn’t find a place to stay, so we put a deposit on a three-bedroom condo sight unseen. When we toured it, we got done, and Jilane asked, “So where is the third bedroom.” There wasn’t one. We took it anyway. When we showed up, we had met two couples. That was everyone. Our church could fit in a minivan. Three months later, we had a small group of 12. 6 of those people never went to one service at Canyon Springs. One day I turned to Jilane and said, “We weren’t called here to start a small group but to start a church.” So we sent out some mailers and set our first church service for the Scripps Ranch Library. I knew of 12 people that were going to be there. 103 showed up. We were dancing in the parking lot. We stepped out of the boat. Then other people joined us and stepped out of the boat with us.

Jilane felt the call to step out of the boat twelve years ago. She was on a prayer retreat and felt a tug on her heart to go to Haiti. This was her prayer. “God, I feel you are calling me to Haiti, but I’m not going to pursue this; you have to pursue me.” Kind of a cocky prayer if you ask me. The first email in her inbox at school the following Monday said, “Who wants to go to Haiti.” She couldn’t pick a hammer from a tool lineup but stepped out of the boat. Then 29 other people from our church stepped out and joined her. That trip leads to over 50 benevolent mission trips worldwide in the next 12 years.

The church is all about stepping out of the boat.

Jilane and I are facing another important step out of the boat, and there is no easy way to say this. God calls us to step out in faith and move to Arizona. This is the right move for the Hawkins family and Canyon Springs for several reasons.

As most of you know, we have a strong passion for family. Three of our four children live in the Phoenix area, and we long to be involved daily. Canyon Springs has graciously allowed us to visit as often as we would like, especially since the birth of our granddaughter Noa, and we are grateful for that flexibility, but we feel like we need to be there. I have said from this stage so many times that the second most influential voice in a child’s life is not their coach or their teacher but their grandparent. It’s time for us to stop saying it and start doing it.

We have created a video that details our heart and some of the specifics of this decision.

I’m excited about our move and just as excited about the future of Canyon Springs. Four years ago, it became apparent to me that we had a young leader at our church with tremendous abilities. He was loud and couldn’t sing a lick, but I could tell that Chad Richards was a very gifted leader. The board agreed, and four years ago, we promoted Chad to the Executive Pastor of Canyon Springs. Chad has been our executive for the last four years, and he has been functioning as the senior leader of our church for the past two years. He has not carried the title of Lead Pastor but has been performing all the responsibilities of leading our staff and helping set the vision for our church. I could not be more proud of who he is or more confident of his ability to lead our church into the next season, and our elder board agrees. Our elder board has unanimously voted to move forward with Chad as the co-pastor of Canyon Springs with me until we move to Arizona sometime in 2023.

I’m sure this is a surprise to some of you. A lot of you saw this coming. We haven’t been around as much because our hearts are with our children. Two weeks ago, my son and his wife came out to see the baby for the first time, and we wanted to be there. We don’t get everyone together often and just had to be in the room. I enjoyed the weekend with my kids, then came home on a Tuesday. I was in Home Depot that Tuesday night and got one of those phone calls that brought sudden fear. It was my daughter Sterling. She had just rear-ended someone and totaled her car.

Have you been on the other line when your kid calls with that information? There are things you want to say to your kid when they get in an accident. You want to say,

“What have I told you about tailgating?” “I bet you were on your phone.”

Fortunately, I didn’t say any of those things. I thought them maybe, didn’t say them. I said, “Are you alright?” Then I said, “You are not an idiot. This is the most common mistake people make while driving. I love you, and we are not going down that road of regret.” As we talked, she calmed down, stopped crying, and said, “I could use a dad hug.” I want to be there with Sterling when she needs a dad hug.

Psalm 128 reflects a goal I have had my entire life. I grew up in a rough home, and reading these verses decades ago profoundly resonated with me.

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees sitting around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.” Psalms 128:1-6

I want to enjoy my grandchildren. I don’t know where we will live or what we will do, but I believe it’s time for us to step out of the boat.

I also believe with all my heart that it’s time for Chad to step out of the boat. I could not be more confident that he’s ready. I don’t think I can believe more in him.

It may be time for you to step out in faith as well. This season reminds me of when we started the church. We needed boat steppers. People of faith to walk the journey with us. The people that did were put on the front row to see God do the amazing. If you commit to this place in this season, you will too. You’ll move into a beautiful new building. You’ll watch as new families walk in and meet Jesus. Your faith will stretch and grow in new ways.

It’s time to step out of the boat.

Jack Hawkins


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