Ryan is the Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory, NC. He is the host of the "In The Room" podcast, and the author of 8 Hours, Or Less: Writing Faithful Sermons Faster.  

The Huguley's Are Starting A New Adventure

Yesterday was a bitter sweet day at Redemption. My heart was filled with an immense gratitude as I announced my resignation through tears after 6 months of prayer and counsel. 

God has opened an opportunity for us to serve Him in North Carolina (more on that later) and in March, Lord willing, the Huguley's are setting out on a new adventure. We are certain of God's leading, but sad to be leaving. Redemption is the family God's built around us these past seven years and I will never cease to be grateful for all He's done.

What follows is the video of my announcement and the letter I read. We'd love your prayers and will keep you posted on all God's doing.

If you know my story and the story of our church than you know that planting Redemption started with a simple stirring in my heart. At a time when I least expected it, God made it clear that He had opened a door for Tami and I to step out in faith and start a new church with a few friends. As scary and uncomfortable as that was, we were certain that God was leading us in this direction, so we chose to trust him and step out in brave obedience. Not once in the last six years has God ever failed us - He’s always been faithful.  

Over the past 6 months God has been stirring in our hearts again. It has always been my intention, and many of you have heard me say publicly, that my plan has been to pastor Redemption for the rest of my life. As surprising as it has been to me, God has opened an opportunity for us that’s different than what I anticipated.  

Through much time in God’s Word, prayer, conversation with Tami, and the counsel of our elders, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to resign my role as lead pastor at Redemption. There is no good way to prepare people for the unexpected nature of an announcement like this and I’m very much aware of how shocking this is for many to hear. As a result I want to do my best to be clear about both what IS and is NOT informing this decision. 

First, it is NOT because there is anything wrong with Redemption. This is the healthiest and most wonderful church I’ve ever had the privilege of serving. Second, it is NOT because I don’t love our church. I’ve given my entire heart to this church the past seven years and outside my family, there is no group of people I love more. Third, it is NOT because I don’t feel loved by our church. Tami and I have never been better cared for than we have been by this leadership team and this church. 

There are two overarching reasons why we’re certain of this decision: 

1. We believe it is time for our family to trust God, step out in faith and start a new adventure together. 

It’s important to Tami and I that we model faith and obedience for our kids and for our church. Often times God directs us to difficult obedience. This has been the most difficult decision of my life. After months of work, I’m certain, Tami is certain, and our elders are certain - that God is both behind and leading us forward in this decision. In March, Lord willing, our family will be moving to North Carolina where God has provided an opportunity for me to become the lead pastor of an existing church. I’ve met with their elders, visited the area, and next month I’ll be preaching there for the first time and meeting with their congregation as the final step in the process. Because it is not finalized, this decision demands our faith and we need your prayers through it. This is sad and more than a little scary for us, be I am confident in God’s faithfulness and believe this new opportunity provides a great opportunity for me to continue serving Jesus fruitfully. 

The second reason we are certain of this decision is this:

2. We believe that God has raised up new leadership for the next season of ministry at Redemption.

For the past year we have been praying and discussing the possibility of sending out Pastor Ashley Herr and his family to plant a church. He feels a strong sense of God’s call on his life to become a lead pastor and this is a calling that we as fellow elders affirm. In conjunction with God’s leading in our family, we believe that God has been positioning him to assume the role of lead pastor here at Redemption, rather than transition out to plant a new church. Pastor Ashley loves Jesus deeply, loves and serves his wife and boys faithfully, preaches God’s Word passionately, and leads our church tirelessly. Redemption started in his living room seven years ago next Sunday. At the time we didn’t even know if he and Jill would a part of the church. Now we believe God has called him to lead it. I must say that there is no one that I believe is better suited to lead our church forward with our elder team.   

Next Sunday, Lord willing, I will preach my final sermon as lead pastor here. I’ve chosen Matthew 5:13-16 as my final text because I want to redirect our hearts to Jesus’ call on our lives as His disciples and His church. In verse 16 He says, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.” That’s why our church exists. That’s what Jesus has called us to.

It is and has been my great joy to shepherd and serve this church, but it has never been my church and it’s never been our elders church. Redemption is Jesus’ church. Jesus has been and always will be our Senior Pastor. We’re built on His shoulders. As a result, Redemption’s best days are ahead, not behind. Lives will be changed. Wounds will be healed. Community will be formed. I’m thankful to have had such an amazing view from which to watch Jesus work thus far and I look forward to seeing all He has ahead. 

My prayer is that you will pull together through all this, trust and support the leading of the elders who love you very much and follow Jesus into the future together.

Transition is always difficult. Change is always uncomfortable. Moving is almost always sad. But, if there is one thing I hope we’ve learned up to this point as a church, it’s that we serve an all powerful and all good God and when He leads, we obey, trusting that His plans are better than ours. It’s for that reason we trust Him and follow His leading in all of this.

I’m so thankful for each of you and I hope you know how much I love you. Thank you for the great honor of allowing me to be your pastor these past seven years.

In The Room Ep. 51: ME :)

In The Room Ep.49: Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer