The Healthy Church – Pastor David Hunt
“Our vision at Eastview United Pentecostal Church is three-fold,” said Pastor David Hunt. “We believe everything we do must fulfill one of those three which includes evangelizing the lost, encouraging the saints and exalting Jesus Christ.” He and his wife, Luetta, have pastored in Lufkin, Texas since 2002.
Principles of Growth & Revival
“I believe the most important key to having a growing church is to have a healthy church,” said Pastor Hunt, a former instructor at Texas Bible College. “To focus on church growth is like feeding the steroids to the natural body. Growth may happen, but it has a negative effect on the long-term health of the body. Focusing on the health of a church through balanced biblical teaching results in growth and long-term health of the body.
“As a young pastor, I asked Bro. Charles Grisham where he thought a revival pastor should place his priorities. His advice was simple but profound. He said, ‘I make it a daily goal to touch God, touch a project and touch people.’ The methods may vary on the circumstances but, basically, this is the system I use.”
According to Pastor Hunt, almost all of his team’s efforts are focused on building lasting relationships. “We offer individual and group home Bible studies and have special events that encourage the attendance of guests,” he said. “We don’t call them visitors. We feel they are attending by divine appointment; therefore, they are God’s guests. Our greatest effort is after that guest attends. They receive a letter from the pastor, and our follow-up team takes a special gift of appreciation to their home. The appropriate ministry team also makes contact with them. For instance, if they have children or young people, they will be contacted by a Children’s Ministry or Youth Ministry team member.
“After they are born again, they are enrolled in our discipleship class. They attend this class for several weeks. During that time, they are connected even closer to the church through the discipleship teaching team. After graduation, they then move to the Service Class. When they finish this class, they will choose a ministry in which they will serve. It may seem like a long and involved process, but to me, it is all a part of the evangelism process. I see evangelism as more than helping them experience the new birth. That is just the beginning. The Great Commission Jesus gave the church involves discipling. We have lost far too many spiritual babies, because we have not taken the time and effort to nurture them through discipleship.”
Organization & Management
Eastview UPC has various ministries including Youth, Men’s, Ladies, College and Career, Singles, Media, Discipleship, Prayer, Guest Services, Music, Missions, Care Net, Young Marrieds’, Bus, Community, Prime Timers (ages 35-50), Nifty Fifties (over 50), Children’s, and Tween. Each one of these ministries has sub-categories that further define its purpose and allows for a team-ministry approach. Therefore, each ministry director has a leadership team that shares the responsibilities.
Ministry directors meet on a monthly basis, according to the pastor. Monthly reports are a part of that meeting. The directors make up the Eastview Ministry Team (EMT). Their monthly meeting includes an overview of plans for the next three months. This is more than a ministry report. They synchronize their calendars, time-line events, and discuss and assign action items for those events. Pastor Hunt said, “This meeting is the template for the way we operate as a church. We function as a team. The activity or event under discussion may focus on a specific ministry, but every EMT member is committed to its success.”
The yearly planning session is in October, and all ministry directors attend to set dates for each ministry activity for the coming year. “We review and adjust job descriptions and refocus on our vision,” said Pastor Hunt. “During the year, my Staff Pastor and I will meet with each ministry team separately. At that meeting, we provide equipping workshops and an appreciation luncheon for those participating in that ministry. A special part of that meeting is the input from those involved in that ministry. The overall purpose of these meetings is to help those involved to succeed in their efforts.
“Approximately 60-70 percent of our membership is involved in some form of ministry, and our evangelism is incorporated into our ministries. Involvement is a part of who we are. To me, it is a part of our salvation. We are saved to serve and blessed to be a blessing. Every ministry director is encouraged.”
Pastor Hunt was excited to talk about special miracles at the church. “We have witnessed many wonderful miracles,” he said. “One specific miracle happened when God healed one member who had broken her foot. The x-rays showed it was broken, and she was waiting for the cast. She prayed a simple prayer, and when another x-ray was taken, the bone was completely healed.
“An elderly lady experienced several miracles in a short period of time. She had been confined to a wheelchair and was on oxygen for years. During a service, God healed her legs and lungs, and she ran around the church, worshipping God. When she came to the next service, she was walking, and her blood/oxygen level was excellent. In a later service, she was able to hear out of an ear that had been deaf since birth.
“Also, God healed a person with AIDS, and another was healed of cancer.”
Pastor Hunt described the principles of his ministry. “I consider my calling as a pastor to be a responsibility that is far beyond my ability to fulfill. Therefore, I need God’s Spirit to help me. Zechariah 4:6 is a very important part of my approach to this calling, ‘. . . not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.’ The anointing of His Spirit is more important than anything I could bring to the situation. I consider the 23rd Psalm to be a description of how I should approach this ministry. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. Since these wonderful saints were purchased by His blood, it is my responsibility as an under shepherd, to provide for their spiritual welfare. My focus as a pastor is on developing ministry teams. This helps mobilize the believers and provides mutual support for those involved. I believe God is a God of greater things. God has done great things in the past, but I believe His greatest works are ahead.”
The Eastview UPC has been in existence for 50 years, according to Pastor Hunt. “It currently has a seating capacity of approximately 400,” he said. “We are planning a 12,000 square feet Family Life Center that will provide needed space for our growing Youth Ministry and Children’s Ministry. When I became pastor 10 years ago, church membership was approximately 190. It is now over 300. We have also established a preaching point in a small town about 12 to 15 miles outside of Lufkin.”
Pastor Hunt was born in a small coal-mining community near Beckley, West Virginia and was raised in the Baptist church. His family moved to Houston, Texas when he was 12, and one of their neighbors was Bro. Arthur Pozzie, pastor of a Pentecostal church. Bro. Pozzie had moved from West Virginia years earlier and grew up attending the same school as Bro. Hunt’s mother. Through this relationship, Bro. Hunt began attending his church. Amazingly, his future wife, Luetta, began attending that church the same Sunday.
“I received the Holy Ghost when I was eighteen and began evangelizing that same year,” said Bro. Hunt. “I felt my need to better prepare for the ministry, so I enrolled in Texas Bible College. Along with my first pastor, Bro. Pozzie, men like Bro. James Kilgore, Bro. E.L. Holley, Bro. O. W. Williams and Bro. Jerry Ensey were very influential in my ministry.”
Bro. Hunt started a home mission church in Brenham, Texas the day after his graduation from TBC in 1974. He later resigned as pastor to join the teaching staff at TBC for the next eight years. He pastored a church in Center, Texas for approximately seven years before becoming pastor of Eastview UPC in 2002.
In the past, Bro. Hunt has served on the Texas District Home Missions Committee and Youth Committee.
Eastview UPC was founded by Bro. D.R. Snider in 1961 and was a wood frame building. The first service was held in October 1961. The second building was a brick facility, built in 1973. An educational building was added in 1978, and the present sanctuary was built in 1980. Other former pastors included Bro. Thomas Bailey, Bro. J.H. Rogers, Bro. O.W. Williams and Bro. Leon Wallace.
Asked what he enjoys doing in his spare time, Pastor Hunt replied, “I love spending time with my family. The activity is not that important. It can be fishing, shopping, hunting, traveling or just time spent around the house. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, and I enjoy the time I get to spend with them.” He and his wife have two daughters, Kimberly Hughes (38) and Rachel Alexander (35).
They also have two dogs: a beagle and a miniature schnauzer. One of his favorite authors is Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
By Linda Schreckenberg