Church planting means that you’re constantly meeting, befriending, welcoming new people. But those on the front lines will tell you that you’re also saying goodbye a ton. The statistic is crazy – something like that 80% of who you begin with won’t be there soon after you launch. That sounds terribly high and I hope I’m wrong. But it does mean that you’re probably going to have to learn to say goodbye almost as much as you learn to say hello.
We had to do that this Sunday. We had to say goodbye to some dear friends. Fortunately, it was the good kind (meaning this wasn’t the result of division, or malice, or sin), but it’s tough nonetheless. Bobby, Sumy, and their precious baby girl Eden have been with us for a while. Some six years ago, Bobby was a part of the first prayer-discussion meeting we ever had that eventually led to Seven Mile Road. He and Sumy have been a huge part of our community and good friends for Shainu and me. I remember describing them to my church planting coach as “perfect.” They give generously, they serve quietly and joyfully, they love God and love people, they follow, they pray, they’re humble….they’re just perfect.
We had been praying as a community for several months that God would provide Bobby with a job. God answered our prayer. Except this job is about 2.5 hours from where we were hoping. I’m kidding. The job is a dream for Bobby, exactly what he was hoping for, and in this economy to boot. The job will allow Sumy to stay at home and be a mom to Eden. We’ll miss them deeply, but in a bunch of ways, it’s a blessing and an answer to prayer. And so on Sunday, our small community celebrated the grace God has shown us through our dear friends, and we asked the Lord to bless them with a new community in Maryland where they could love and be loved by His people.