Citing his exhaustion and personal brokenness, Pete Wilson, senior pastor of the multi-campus Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of the best-selling book Plan B, shocked his congregation on Sunday when he announced his resignation from the church he founded 14 years ago.
Cross Point Church was planted by Wilson and his wife, Brandi, in 2003 and has since grown to "reach more than 7,000 people each weekend through its five locations around the Nashville area and online." It is promoted as one of the "fastest growing churches in America."
On Sunday, however, the day the church celebrated its 14th anniversary and America remembered the terror attacks of September 11, Wilson told his congregation that he was no longer fit to lead.
"We have a community [here at Cross Point] where everyone is welcome because nobody's perfect and everything is possible," he said in a video of the announcement.
"This community that has been created not only impacts those of you that are at one of our physical locations right now [but] thousands of you that watch online who've been impacted by this kind of heart. And that's been my priority. My priority over the last 14 years into pouring my entire life into making that possible. But in the meantime, I didn't prioritize some other things that were equally as important," he said.
"Most of you in this church only experience what I do on Sundays, especially those of you who watch online. You just see me when I kind of come up here on Sundays but the reality is as leader and the pastor of a church, what happens in between those Sundays is just as important and it requires a lot of leadership and it requires a lot of leadership energy. And leaders in any realm of life, leaders who lead on empty don't lead well and for some time now I've been leading on empty. And so I believe that the best thing for me to do is to step aside from Cross Point and so I am officially resigning as the pastor of Cross Point Church," Wilson continued as the congregation listened quietly.
He then asked the church for prayers as he shared a bit more of his personal struggle.
"And now, more than ever before — I really need your prayers and I need your support. We've said that this is a church where it's OK to not be okay, and I'm not okay. I'm tired. I'm broken, and I just need some rest. I love you guys; I love the vision of this church. The vision of this church is not me by the way," he said with a slight crack in his voice.
"I speak words but that's all vision is. It's just words when it's spoken. Vision becomes vision when it gets lived out. And you guys have lived it out. Cross Point is the church that it is today because of you, not because of me and I believe our best days are ahead," added Wilson.
He further expressed confidence in the leadership of the elders of the church who noted in a statement that Wilson's decision to resign was entirely his own.
"Pastor Pete's resignation was 100 percent his decision. In fact, we tried to talk him out of it as we told him to take as much time as he needed. But he was ready to get rest and start a new season. We will forever be tied with Pastor Pete — Pete, his wife and kids are family!" the elders said.
"Pete even indicated he would always be available to help us answer any questions — we plan to take him up on his offer! Pete has the support of the elders and church leadership. We love him, we will miss him and we trust his heart and decision. We can't wait to watch all that God has in store for Pastor Pete," the statement ended.
Since Wilson's announcement, church members and well-wishers have been sharing their thoughts on his decision on the church's Facebook page.
"Pete's resignation is such a powerful reminder that while it's important that we as the Church go out and love on and serve the community, we can't do that if we don't tend to our own spiritual health first and surround ourselves with strong community to help us through the tough times," wrote Jacob Padgett.
Commenter Brooke Hall added: "So heartbroken. I joined cross point a year ago today and today my pastor, Pete, resigned after 14 years here! It's hard to feel what he feels but I hope his family is blessed and cross point fulfills all of our wildest dreams, again! I will stick with you!"