My name is Eric Fannin. I’m a pastor and Bible scholar. I’m married to my childhood sweetheart, Sarah and we have one daughter, Lucy.
I grew up in a Christian home in North Eastern KY. My parents took me to church several times a week from the time I was an infant. As you will see, there were times that I did not want to go to church as a young teenager. I am very thankful to God that my parents made me go even when I did not want to do so. God used their faithfulness to bring me to salvation.
I was saved when I was a child during a revival at my grandmother’s church in Kenova, WV. When the invitation was given, I had been sitting in the pew next to my brother and cousin. People began going forward to pray. My cousin said, “They’re going to get saved. Do you want to be saved?” Since my parents raised me in a Bible believing church, I knew what Jesus had done for me and what it meant to be saved. I said that I did want to be saved so I went forward too. When my mother saw me, she came forward to lead me in prayer for salvation. Within about six month, I was baptized in my home church in Rush, KY. I remember telling other children in my neighborhood about what Jesus had done for them and encouraging them to be saved.
However, when I was a young teenager, I wanted to be like other kids at school. I started listening to the music they listened to and watching the TV shows that they watched. That kind of music and TV shifted my worldview. I began to desire and do things that were not pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit convicted me heavily during this time. My parents made me go to church even though I argued with them over it. When the pastor began to preach, I would go and hide in the bathroom during the majority of the sermon because I was under a great conviction. I was running from God.
One Wednesday night, the volunteer youth group leaders could not come to church. A 16-year old boy who had recently started preaching said, that he would lead youth group that night. He preached God’s Word and I was convicted. He set folding chairs up in the front of the fellowship hall as prayer benches. I went forward to repent for running from the Lord as I had been doing for nearly two years. God is so good that He shows us grace and forgives us when we repent, trusting in Jesus (1 John 1:9)! From that time on, I began reading my Bible and looking forward to gathering with the church! The Lord brought Sarah into my life when I was 14-years old. She was excited to be following Jesus and was a great encouragement to me to continue growing in Christ. In a couple of years, I finished reading the entire Bible for the first time. Have you ever been saved? If you would like to know more about it, click here.
Call into Ministry
When I was about fourteen years old, I was reading my Bible regularly. My Sunday School teacher asked if anyone would like to teach the class on the following Sunday. I responded that I would like to do so. After I had taught one lesson, she allowed me to teach more and more. The youth leaders also allowed me to help lead discussions in our youth group. Before long, my home church asked me to teach a Sunday School class—either the Senior High Youth class or the Young Adult class. I told them I would teach a class but because of my age I would feel more comfortable teaching the Senior High Youth class.
On a summer night, I had stayed up late to read the Bible and pray. I felt like the Lord wanted me to write out some goals for my life. One goal was to discover God’s calling on my life. Underneath that goal I wrote the sub-goal “try preaching” because I felt the Lord wanted me to do so. I had not shared this goal with anyone that I can recall. However, within a few months, the Lord provided opportunities for me to preach. The pastor of my church asked me to preach a short message for a monthly nursing home ministry. My youth group was planning to have a youth Sunday service and they asked me to bring the message. Likewise, Sarah’s church youth group (we were dating at this time), asked me to bring a message for their youth Sunday service.
As I continued to take these opportunities, my church and Sarah’s church affirmed me in this calling and continued to give me opportunities to teach and preach. When I was sixteen and seventeen years old, I was preaching about once a month and teaching a weekly Sunday School class at my home church. I loved teaching and preaching God’s Word and I loved encouraging believers in their faith. I knew God was calling me into pastoral ministry. My pastor encouraged me to pursue a Biblically faithful seminary so I could learn to shepherd God’s people well. In 2007, Locust Grove Baptist Church licensed me into gospel ministry and in 2008 they ordained me. Since that time, God has given me the privilege to serve in pastoral ministry for eleven years; as an interim pastor of a church in West Virginia, as Youth Pastor of a church in North Carolina, and as the Lead pastor of churches in Ohio and Virginia.
Preparation & Education
When I realized God had called me into vocational pastoral ministry, I knew that it would be best for me to go to seminary to prepare appropriately. My pastor told me that just like you don’t want a physician operating on you unless he has gone to medical school and had the appropriate training, you wouldn’t want a pastor caring for your soul unless he has been properly prepared. After all, matters of the soul are very complex and eternally significant.
I knew that before I could be accepted into a seminary, I would have to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. I spent four years at Marshall University, majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Public Communication because I knew I would spend a lot of time communicating in public settings. While at Marshall, I was blessed to be a part of Revolution Ministries, the Southern Baptist ministry on campus and to serve on the leadership team. Upon graduation from Marshall, I was recognized as the top student in communication studies and received the Bill Denman Award for outstanding scholarship in rhetoric. While I had never been a very good student before college, God was changing me and molding me for the calling He had given me.
Upon graduating from Marshall, I was accepted into Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, NC. SEBTS is very committed to the authority, inerrency, and infallibility of the Bible. They are a Great Commission driven school. Sarah also attended SEBTS to learn more about the Bible and to be able to help me in my ministry. After four years of full-time study at SEBTS, we graduated. I received a Master of Divinity with Emphasis in Pastoral Ministry. The faculty of SEBTS recognized me as the top student in New Testament Studies and Pastoral Ministry. I did not know it at the time, but this recognition would encourage me to pursue further education for God’s glory and the health of the local church.
After graduating from Seminary, I had a four month pastoral internship at Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, WV under Senior Pastor, Dr. Seth Polk. I spent four years in the pastorate when I realized that God was calling me to pursue further education. After much prayer and consideration, I applied and was accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies program at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO at the beginning of 2017. By God’s grace, I can serve in my current ministry role while in this program and travel to Kansas City for two weeks out of the year. My study at MBTS focuses on the foundations of pastoral theology and pastoral ministry. I love to study about Biblical church structure and health.