I've found time to be astonishing; it either flies or crawls. And these past years have done both. It was seven years ago past week that we started Echo Church.
I vividly remember the early experiences we had when plotting to start the church like it was yesterday: the optimism of those first people who joined Kelly and me on the journey, the doors that the Lord opened in bringing us to Walnut Hills, the steep learning curve which followed that first service.
The weeks where we had seven people in attendance didn't stop us; the adrenaline pushed us past the fear of failure.
I've now spent half of my ministerial career at Echo. Dozens of people have come and gone through our fellowship over that time, but the Lord has continued to use Echo to make a difference. And that's what keeps me just as excited about what the future holds for our congregation as when we first started: there's more out there that God has planned for us.
It's never been easy. And it wasn't what I expected it to be. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. The blessings have been immeasurable.
During my doctoral residency, we had the chance to Skype interview Tim Keller, a minister in Manhattan instrumental in establishing a renewed approach to urban ministry. In his teachings on the subject, he often comments on people who are called to minister to cities, stating that many people do so because they feel the need to save the city.
[That was one of our main motivations for starting Echo]
But Keller continues that those who come to the city are often surprised to discover that the city saved them. And I understand what he was talking about. I am not the man that I was seven years ago. God has used the city to change the way I pastor, the way I love others, and the way I view the world.
And none of this would have happened without this church.
To my brothers and sisters at Echo, especially to those who weren't with as at the beginning, I hope you feel that this is your story too. And I'm thrilled at the thought if us continuing to live life together in the city for years to come.