I wrote in a Facebook post last night that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far in church planting is that you must get used to the rhythms of people coming and going. I’m not talking about people that visit once or twice and then decide to move on. I’m talking about people that come into the community of the church for a season and then because of life, mission, or circumstance, the time comes for them to move on. It’s hard. It is hard to see people that you grow to love move on. It’s hard to replace their service to the church. It’s hard when you are a young church to lose anyone that attends!
Yet in the midst of the difficulty of seeing people come and go, I’ve learned to be thankful. I’m thankful that they were here for a season. I’m thankful for the privilege it is to pastor people for however long they may be with us. I’m thankful for friendships that have grown and that have survived goodbyes! I’m thankful for people that were in our midst who have been sent out to carry out God’s mission both near and far.
We are a young church, but we have had the privilege of sending several people out from Eastpoint into service elsewhere. Evan Whitaker was with us in the early days and is now a Youth Minister. Matt and Megan McDougal led worship for us before moving to Etown to serve full time at Northside Baptist Church. Josh and Julia Moody were instrumental in planting Eastpoint and our now serving widows and orphans through 127 Worldwide. Scott and Chelsea Holcombe also led worship for us and are now in Long Island seeking how to serve the church in a vastly unreached area. Rusty and Pam Ellison are still members but are often gone serving the church through Rusty’s transitional pastorate ministry. Joe and Gina Ball are the latest to be sent out as he starts this Sunday at FBC Russellville. There are others like Scott and Amy Bayer who are about to leave us as he pursues PhD work in California.
Now let me clear, ECC is certainly not the reason these folks are on the path they are on. We have simply been blessed to have them with us. Through them God has reminded us of the importance of mission. We have been taught that we are in this to build His Kingdom, not a club. We have been shown the importance of sacrificing what is comfortable to carry out God’s call in our lives. I pray that God might continue to teach us these things. I pray that He might continue to raise up people from within our church to be sent out. I pray that there would be more people who come, and in turn more people to go.