An Open Letter from Pastor Mark About the Closing of Canyon Verde

//An Open Letter from Pastor Mark About the Closing of Canyon Verde

An Open Letter from Pastor Mark About the Closing of Canyon Verde

To all of those who have called
Canyon Verde Home:

As I reflect on the last 4-5 years of planting this church, I realize that we have learned a lot and grown a lot together. We have seen so many people come through our doors and many others who have been blessed by the ministry efforts of this local church. There are a few people here at Canyon who stand out:

  • I am grateful for the whole Crownoble family who have been such valuable partners. From the very beginning, they have opened their home and served alongside our family. Even in these final days, they continue to serve faithfully.
  • I am grateful for all those who have shown up early and carried equipment in order to make sure that services ran smoothly. I am especially grateful for those who have served on our tech teams and usher ministry. This church would not have functioned properly without your faithful service.
  • I am grateful for those who were dedicated to discipling children. From what I heard, it was sometimes chaotic back there, but our children heard the gospel and were shown Christ’s love by faithful workers.
  • I am grateful for all those who have opened up their homes and those who have stepped forward to lead small group discipleship ministries. Discipleship groups have been the backbone of this church plant and it always has been a blessing to see people grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord.

We have lived life together these last few years. This church has accepted and trusted my family. We have seen people come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior and we’ve celebrated as some have been called home to heaven. We have prayed and prayed and prayed together. We have asked the Lord for some huge things and we rejoiced when the Lord has responded to some of those prayers by leading people to salvation or by healing physical bodies. The ministry of this church has been fruitful.

Through all the good and all the tough times, my family has been faithful to stand by my side and to serve. Lara and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage together this year and she has been my greatest supporter. Thank you for showing love to both me and my family. We hope this is not a goodbye, but a change of season. We are planning to move back to Prescott, but that’s not too far away. We hope to be able to maintain many of our relationships here.

Whereas we are not really saying goodbye, it is a change. We hope it’s a good change, but every change, either good or bad, also represents a loss. We are all having to say goodbye to a church that we love and all of us will need to find new ways to plug into the body of Christ.

Church planting is really risky and when I realized this church was not going to work, I tried to just work harder and pray for the best. I didn’t want to let a church shut down on my watch. I tried to be optimistic despite the facts, but the reality of the situation kept resurfacing until it was evident that we needed to make this decision.

I have met with many of you and have answered dozens of phones calls. Most of you are saddened by the change and others are downright shocked by it, but almost across the board, you’ve been supportive of our family. We know this church loves us and the reality of your love for us (and our love for you) makes this situation all the more difficult to face.

At the same time, we’ve seen God at work yet again and when God is at work, good things happen (Romans 8:28). God can take trials and burdens and sadness, turn those things around to conform us to the image of Christ and produce more and more joy in our lives as a result.

I think of all the churches who are going to get an influx of Canyon Bible people. I hope that we are going to be a blessing to the various churches we find ourselves attending around this valley. This valley doesn’t need more churches. It needs a few healthy churches. Let’s all go out and help a few churches grow deep in their love for Jesus. Revival starts with Christians who are radically on fire for Jesus and I know of no other town in need of revival more than Cottonwood.

While we are here, the Staffords will be attending Cottonwood Bible Church. We would love for some of you to come worship with us over there. After we move back to Prescott, we plan on plugging back into Canyon PV in order to help them with their massive rebuilding and healing efforts. I am not planning on taking a full-time staff position at a church for a while but I plan to work full-time for my company. However, James reminds us (in James 4:13-14) that none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. The Lord could change our plans. One way or another, we will continue to disciple people somewhere.

We would encourage you to go to church. Christians go to church! Sing the songs, take notes and love on God’s people. I hope you see the beauty of us all being sent out. Continue to love Jesus by loving His people. Continue to love learning about the Word. Canyon may not be here, but the body of Christ will still continue to gather in homes and churches and community centers throughout our area. So, let’s all go out and do our part in telling the world about the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the Lord’s Service,


By |2017-11-20T11:03:42+00:00September 18th, 2017|Blog Posts|0 Comments

About the Author:

Pastor Mark Stafford served on staff at Canyon Bible Church of Prescott Valley for almost 6 years. He and his wife, Lara, felt called to church planting and Canyon of Prescott Valley sent them to plant a new Canyon Bible Church in the Verde Valley. Mark is a graduate of the Biblical Studies department at Arizona Christian University with highest honors and has served for more than a dozen years in full-time pastoral ministry. Mark loves music and is an active musician playing electric and string bass, acoustic and electric guitar, & keyboard. He has served with several professional Christian touring groups and has been nominated for a Dove award. Pastor Mark is currently bi-vocational while he plants Canyon Verde. He owns a small printing and design company called Ablaze Media. When he is not preaching, leading small groups, playing music or designing graphics, you might find him in his F250 cruising around the back roads of the local national forests, cycling with his sons on the streets around the Verde Valley, or running in a 10K. Pastor Mark and Lara have 4 children and have been married for over 15 years.

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