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Saying Yes to the Adventures of a Sending God

God calls us to hold loosely to where we live, allowing Him to direct us, to intervene, and to surprise us in the journeys He sends us on.   Left to ourselves we become inhospitable to adventures.  Like Bilbo the Hobbit, we adopt a posture that says, “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"

Following Christ infuses wherever we live with a supernatural sense of sent-ness.  Christ deepens our sense of living by awakening us to the fact that we live in a once in an eternity opportunity.  The whole earth will soon be all new people, just like our old haunts in high school and college were completely repopulated in about four years.   We are located more “in a time” than a place.  And that time is only redeemed as we live for Christ (Ephesians 5:15), conscious that we are SENT.

Jesus loved to describe Himself as the “Sent” one.   God the Father was the Sender.

Note how Jesus describes himself in these verses:

  • Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.  John 4:34
  •  “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.  John 5:23
  • “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:20

Being “Sent” does not depend upon the distance, although my experience is that when we surrender to being “sent” God will often surprise us with how He expands His territory as well as our conceptual framework.

This weekend, I am SENT to preach at Epiphany Fellowship in Camden, New Jersey as they give glory to God for their  Five Year Celebration of being SENT.  Covenant was instrumental in this church plant when it was only a concept.   About six years ago, I remember Doug Logan driving some Covenant members through the city of Camden, showcasing the need for churches.   Since that time, Epiphany Camden has sent out daughter churches to Baltimore, Maryland, Wilmington, Delaware, and beyond. 

Pastor Doug Logan reckons that the amount of financial support in both goods, labor, and cash has been more than five hundred thousand dollars given from Covenant Church.  Much of this support came from willing skilled labor to prepare the church building as well as Doug and Angel Logan’s home.  Pastor Doug gives thanks for our partnership, a truly relational and therefore reciprocal kind of partnership.

As I preach at Epiphany in Camden, Covenant will be served through the fruit of our gospel partnership in Zimbabwe, as Rob Chifokoyo, transplanted from Zimbabwe to here preaches for us from Acts 17:1-15.

Just a few years ago, Camden and Zimbabwe were just places on the map.   But today, they shape Covenant, and they shake up Covenant in ways that remind us, this ministry belongs to God.  This God loves to break into our lives with adventures that shake up our status quo and drop the calling card of a God who loves to be known as the Sending God.

Saying Yes to Jesus’ mission is disturbing,  uncomfortable, and “makes you late for dinner”.  But it also rescues us from drifting into purposeless lives, so we live on purpose for Him!

PS THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY.  Because of your generosity I will be presenting a love gift of five thousand dollars, along with cleaning supplies for the maintenance of Camden’s new church building!

Burning the Mortgage

Congregations that do not treasure Jesus above all things do not get to celebrate what we celebrated last weekend. Congregations that only pay lip service to sacrifice do not get to see and experience what we now we see.

Last weekend, we celebrated our ninth anniversary in our current facility by announcing that we had paid in full the mortgage on this property!

Eleven and a half years ago we cast a vision for a preferable future for Covenant Church. It was born out of commitment to proclaiming the gospel and reaching this community. It was born out of a vision that said it was too small a thing to be content with reaching five hundred people in a blessed little building that was bursting with life but had no room to grow.

So, that congregation trusted and treasured Christ. They raised enough money to buy this beautiful piece of land (over 23 acres!) and to build this new facility with the assistance of a 3.4 million dollar mortgage.

That mortgage that was once 3.4 million dollars is now history! It is paid off in full!

The result of 450 people trusting and treasuring Christ to reach this community is that we now have three times that many people living to the same great end. Compelled by the same Biblical vision and mission, we have been able to pay for the increased ministry costs, the costs of running a much larger facility, and the missional and strategic hires of new staff to develop and lead and craft new ministries. We have reached people we never could have reached before. And those reached have expanded our reach in more ways than we can count!

Our finance team provides leadership and accountability so that Covenant Church is a good steward of your generosity. This committee is led by Steve Fortner, Brad Brautigam, Kim Hathaway and Herb Hess. They have been assisted in financial counsel by Peter Gray and Boe Shiffler. We owe them all our thanks and gratitude for wise leadership helping us be wise stewards. Please know, that we not only preach that we should be good stewards in our individual lives, we understand our obligation to you to be good stewards of your generosity!

Last year you gave over three hundred thousand dollars over and above our expenses to our general operating fund. That amount was used to finish off this mortgage!

By paying this off early, we saved over sixty thousand dollars that would have accrued in interest. That money can now be devoted to ministry!

Your generosity remains vital to us as we stand on the threshold of a ground breaking ceremony in a few months, and then the exciting work of construction of our BOLDER building project begins. Your participation in the BOLDER building project continues to grow putting us just in reach of being able to finish and furnish it so that is serves the community that the Lord is entrusting us to reach!

Together, our faithfulness and sacrifice in terms of financial generosity will determine what will be said about us, a congregation at least three times larger than the 450 who tackled this in 2005.

May it be said, that ‘because we have this hope, we are very BOLD” (2 Corinthians 3:12). May it be said that we were like King David, not willing to give something “that did not cost us anything” (2 Samuel 24:24). May it be said of us that we put the loaves and fishes in Christ’s hand, and He did the rest!

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