On Thursday of this past week, a dear saint and beloved friend went home, unexpectedly and instantaneously, to be with Jesus. Curtis Crutchfield, a husband, father and grandfather died suddenly of a massive heart attack while at the basketball practice of his grandson.
Curtis was a pillar in our church. He was a man of audacious faith. He didn’t talk about audacious faith like a preacher; he prayed with it, in private, like a saint.
There is a faithful group of believers at the Summit Church that fewer and fewer people who come to our church (sadly) know about. This is a group of 300 that believed God with me, from the beginning, that God could use a traditional Baptist church to change our city. They stepped out on faith when we really had nothing to go on but the character of God. I did not show up at the Summit with flashy sermons and a hot band. What “I” had were 300 people who believed God and were ready to put the mission ahead of their personal preferences. Curtis was chief among them.
Here is the last letter I got from Curtis. It speaks for itself, and worth taking a moment to read…
“Pastor, J.D., as the Summit congregation continues to grow, there is, within that large number of people, some very blessed, unique folks, of which I am one. I go back to that time when a somewhat tattered and weary group of about 300 members of Homestead Heights Baptist Church called a young whipper-snapper of a preacher to lead them–they stepped out in faith and you became our shepherd. Not too much later, that same group agreed to step out in faith again, leaving their paid-for, comfortable, safe church building to move into a high school. Just a few years later, that same group again made a faith step, voluntarily splitting up and moving to different locations under the banner of The Summit Church. Unique, I believe, to that group is the fact that our faith has now become sight, as we have seen God’s blessings on each and every “faith step” we took. We don’t have to “hope” that our leadership is making God-led decisions, as we have seen and experienced first hand what God can and will do when His name is honored. We are not “blessed and unique” because of anything we have done, but because God, for whatever reason, placed us in this very special place during this very special time. Almost on a weekly basis, we become a smaller percentage of the Summit membership, but, that doesn’t minimize in any degree the blessings we have experienced during this amazing journey.
We were called to another faith-step some time back with the Believe project, and again just recently with the decision to purchase property—many of the current membership are making their first faith-step at the Summit, doing so on faith alone. For the group that was there when this journey began, we no longer make these decisions just on faith—we have seen! And, having seen, the decisions truly are “no brainers” for us. To not move forward would be as dishonoring to God as would have been the decisions to not call you as our pastor, to not move from Holt School Road, to not split up into multi-campuses. He has started a work that is bigger than any of us,but to which we all have a part.
Many who now call The Summit home have no real knowledge or appreciation for what God has done to and for this body of believers, nor could they. To many, we have always met in a warehouse or on Cole Mill Road or Club Blvd. To them, we have always had large budgets and huge crowds. I truly hope, though, we never lose our sense of when this journey began, of God pruning us and preparing us for what He had planned. As stated before, it has been an amazing journey, and will continue to be so as long as He leads us.
JD, I say all this to be able to say how much I appreciate you, how much I appreciate how you have grown these past years, and how much I appreciate God’s allowing me to be a part of this body. Having my faith become sight allows me to appreciate all these things even more!
Thank you for being my pastor – Curtis Crutchfield”
Curtis, you will be missed. Greatly. May God give us 100 to take your place. That’s how many it will probably take. And we desperately need them–people who will believe God, like you, for great things, labor tirelessly for them, and not be surprised at all when God answers.