Today, I want to share with you something regarding my call as your pastor here at SouthCrest Church. On August 1, God led Tracey and I to begin a 40 day fast. The purpose of this fast was to seek a breakthrough in our lives personally and seek a breakthrough for our church.  God used this time of prayer and fasting to humble us, grow us and speak to us in many ways about our lives and our leadership at SouthCrest. He was faithful to speak to us and to answer the questions we asked of Him.  God is good and faithful in His promise to answer anyone who seeks Him.

Over the past three years we have seen God sift our church and bring about many changes. At times, we have not always understood why this was occurring, but scripture is clear that when He does this it is for our good and His glory.  We can trust Him in all things. Some of the changes have been good and some have been challenging. However, I have always sought to lead our church forward and keep us focused on God’s plan for our church to fulfill the vision of reaching South Atlanta one relationship at a time.

In mid-June, during some of the changes, I received two phone calls from two different churches in a three day period. Both calls were requests to serve on their staff and both were regarding new ministry opportunities as an executive pastor. At the time, because of the staff transitions and changes happening in our church, I did not sense God’s prompting to pursue either opportunity.  However, as I mentioned before, I did sense a strong call to fast for 40 days to seek God. It was during this time God began to change my heart and to ask me to be open to leaving SouthCrest.  As I prayed and read His word, I sensed a peace and an affirmation that the work God had called me here to do was complete. I was reminded of the strong call God gave to me to come here seven years ago to serve as executive pastor and the heart he had given me for this position. When this happened, God made it clear to me that I still have a heart and strong call to serve in this role. There was clarity of direction for the call of God on my life and the choice He was asking me to make.

This was a difficult realization and a painful process because of my heart to serve this church and my deep love for you. The call of God on my life drives my desire to remain regardless of ANY challenges. So, the decision to leave was hard, but I knew I would be disobedient to what God was asking me to do if I stayed. I know without a doubt if I had not fasted I would have struggled to obey the Lord.  God used the fast to show my family and me His plan and will for our next season of ministry. When I answered the call of God at the age of 17, I told the Lord I was willing to go anywhere, anytime to serve Him. I also told him I was willing to stay anywhere He wanted me to stay for as long as He wanted me to stay.  It was this decision that led me to leave Arkansas and come to SouthCrest seven years ago. Now, some 30 years later, my heart is the same. I will go wherever God leads me to go to serve Him in any and every way.

After much prayer, fasting, and seeking the Lord I want to let you know that I have accepted a call to become the Executive Pastor at Freedom Church in Acworth, GA.  In 2004, while on a trip to Europe, God connected Pastor J.R. Lee and I, and we became friends. I do not think that was by random chance or coincidence that God began this friendship so many years ago. Throughout the past seven years our friendship and mutual respect for one another has grown. I believe God is asking me to walk alongside J.R. as his executive pastor and serve the people of Freedom Church. This is a new position for Freedom Church and I am excited about helping them shape their future vision.

As I reflect on all God has done in our seven years here at SouthCrest, I am eternally grateful! We have witnessed over 800 people saved and baptized in the past seven years.  We have also built a new worship center in 2012 and we saw the church grow to over 2,400 in attendance. We launched a second campus in 2014 and moved into a permanent building on Easter 2017 with over 650 in attendance. We have decreased our church indebtedness from $3.2 million in 2011 to just over $2.6 million in 2017. However, for us personally, our greatest point of celebration has been the people we have been able to share life with and the lives we have seen changed by the Gospel. At SouthCrest, we are all about reaching people “one relationship at a time.” This has certainly happened again and again throughout our seven years here on staff. We count it a privilege to have been with you at some of your greatest moments in life and some of your darkest times as well. Thank you for inviting us into your lives and allowing us to live out our calling within the local church. We are blessed to have been a part of your lives and to serve you.

I want to say a word to this church regarding our current staff team. They are, by far, some of the most talented and passionate people I have ever had the privilege of serving with. Do not take for granted the people that God has called here to serve this church.  As the bible states: “They are worthy of a double portion of honor.” Honor those who seek to lead you and God will honor you.  Now is the time to rally behind the staff and leadership of this church and engage in the vision!

Lastly, Tracey, Kyle and I want to thank you for your love and support over the past seven years. This is by far one of the most challenging seasons of ministry we have experienced, but I would not trade the lessons we have learned and the growth that has occurred in our lives personally. I am humbled and honored by the opportunity God gave me to serve as your pastor.  The honor has truly been mine!

My last Sunday as your pastor will be next Sunday October 8.  I look forward to sharing a final message with you and I am excited about the word God has given me to share.

Tracey and I are looking forward to our new season of ministry that God has called us to at Freedom Church.  We also look forward to hearing about the great things that God will continue do at SouthCrest. Our hearts are deeply grafted here and we will continue to pray for this church. I want to encourage you to stay focused on the vision God has given you, pursue people and seek Jesus always.

That I May Know Him,

Shawn Smith

Lead Pastor

We know this information comes to you as a shock and right now you are feeling a variety of emotion – some sad, confused and upset.  But we want us all to also feel happiness. Happiness for the calling of God on Shawn’s life and for his obedience to walk into this calling. Comfort. Comfort that God is sovereign in every situation. God saw this transition happening a long time ago and just like He has a plan for Shawn’s future, He has a plan for the future of SouthCrest. THIS we are confident in.

Next Sunday, October 8, will be Shawn’s last Sunday here and we want to send him off well by praying for him at the end of each service. We bless him in his new journey and look forward to all that God has for Freedom Church.

As for the future of SouthCrest…THE BEST IS YET TO COME!  We want to encourage you to walk in faith and not in fear. The staff and Vision Team is united to the future of our church and we stand before you committed to seeing us through this transition.

So, what is the plan moving forward: 

  1. The leadership moving forward is:
    1. We are guided by our staff, guarded by our Vision Team and gifted by our people.
    2. We will continue as normal with each Campus Pastor as the leader at their respective Campuses. Pete Shoger at our LaGrange campus and Matt McFadden at our Newnan campus.
    3. We will use our current preaching team, minus Shawn, to deliver the Sunday morning sermons.
  2. This week we will begin adding new Vision Team members to get this team in compliance with the bylaws, (6-9 laymen).
  3. Then we will create a Pastoral Search Committee in accordance with our bylaws.
  4. In the weeks to come, we will communicate clearly to our people on a consistent basis.

Each one of you is a vital part of the body of Christ.

So, how can we join together? 

  1. We need to lock arms as the body of Christ. SouthCrest is not a building, WE are the church.
  2. Live out the 4G’s: Share Jesus, Extend Grace, Grow Spiritually and Be Generous.
  3. Volunteer. We have a big need for people to step up and serve in all areas of our church.
  4. Give. We are at a critical place and we need people to financially support our church.
  5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Commit to praying for our Church.

Please join us on Sunday, October 8, at 6pm at the Newnan campus for a special prayer meeting. We are believing God that the best is yet to come.

In His Service,
The SouthCrest Staff Team