By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
Max Lucado, arguably the university’s most well-known alumnus, will step down as senior minister at Oak Hill Church in San Antonio for health reasons, he announced in March.
Lucado, class of 1977, is known worldwide for the more than 50 Christian books he’s written, including: “He Still Moves Stones,” “The Crippled Lamb” and “Footsteps of Jesus.” He has been preaching as senior minister for nearly 20 years.
Lucado said his decision to change roles at the church came at the beginning of March after learning that since August, he had been dealing with a heart condition known as “atrial fibrillation.”
This abnormal heart rhythm, while it is the leading type of heart arrhythmia, could still cause blood clots and ultimately lead to a stroke if not taken care of properly.
“The church that I lead has about 6,000 members right now, and it takes a lot of time and effort to lead a church this size, not to mention the time spent preparing for sermons,” Lucado said. “It seems to me that this position is a full-time position and I only work part time at it because I make my profession as a writer, plus being a senior minister.
“Doing everything is OK if the church is still small and I’m healthy, but I didn’t feel like I was doing the best job I could for the position only being part time,” he said.
He said his role will not be to leave the church but to hand over the leadership duties to a new senior minister. Until a new minister is found, though, Lucado will still continue his role as the senior minister, leading the church, preaching on Sundays and overseeing a staff of more than 80 people.
“As soon as the new [minister] arrives here – on his very first day – is when I transition into my new role,” he said.
Lucado’s decision to step down came as a surprise to many, he said, including his family.
Andrea Lucado, junior English major from San Antonio, said she was sad at first when hearing that her father was stepping down as the senior minister.
“Initially I was sad because I didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” she said. “I always knew that it would, but I had to realize that my parents are getting old and at a point where retiring is an option. My dad’s always been the preacher, and so my first thought was to wonder what it would be like to go home and see someone else preaching.”
She said since his decision she’s seen that now is the best time for this transition.
“If he’s going to step down sometime, it might as well be now, especially with his heart condition,” she said. “I’ve seen that it really is the right time for him and us to make the change.”
Dr. Charlie Marler, professor emeritus of journalism and mass communication, taught Lucado while he attended the university and said he too was surprised by Lucado’s decision.
“This will a great time of transition for the church, but I’m glad that Max will still be continuing his writing,” Marler said. “So many people have been touched by his books, and he’s reached all kinds of people. His strengths as a writer and minister are complimentary for him.”
Lucado first began his career in the ministry when he decided to obtain a master’s degree in missions, which he completed at ACU in 1981. From there, he ministered at a church in Miami, and then moved with his wife Denalyn to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he spent the next five years.
“It was during his time in Brazil that he discovered his writing talent,” Marler said.
Lucado published his first book, “On the Anvil (Shaped by God),” in 1983, after compiling a collection of articles he had written for the newsletter at the church in Miami where he first began.
In 1987, Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, was in Brazil when he told Lucado about an opening at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. Lucado said after Money told him about the position, and “the rest was history.”
Since then, he’s published at least one book a year, written children’s books and has a one-minute radio feature, “UpWords with Max Lucado,” broadcasted in more than 1,000 stations nationwide.
Lucado’s transition to a less demanding role at the church will still allow him to preach at the church and to have a teaching ministry.
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