Planted in Pearland

What's going on in the life of Covenant Community Church

God is Good… in Pearland April 8, 2010

Filed under: Community,Covenant — Sarah @ 10:47 pm

Stacey asked me to post her first blog post since she doesn’t know how 🙂 So here we go, the one and only Stacey Mullins:

HI. I am not really a “blogger,” and what I mean is I don’t write things on the internet for loads of people to read. Even my facebook posts are super short and far-in-between. I guess for me there is only one reason: I don’t think I really have anything interesting to say. So when Sarah, Maggie and Joy said that we should do a blog, I laughed out loud. I was like “sure, great idea! … for you,” but here I am attempting to put words together…

So, we are finally getting settled into our new home here in Pearland. We are learning about the amazing humidity and the super short spring (that I totally enjoyed!!!) My parents have visited us and my best friend Stephanie Tanner too. We both have jobs and are starting to settle into a routine – finally.

But really, I just wanted to say, on my first blog post ever, how truly awesome our God is! I have to say that this move has not been easy for our family. I don’t think I expected it to be easy, but I certainly wasn’t expecting all the little difficulties we have faced. But I don’t want to focus on those. Despite these little nuisances, God has been present in our lives and has completely affirmed our move here. He has given us such a sweet, sweet community here! They have gone out of their way to make us feel at home. Thinking about the saints that the Lord has brought to Covenant makes me teary-eyed. I can’t believe that we have known them for only 4 short months. Seriously! So many families that didn’t know us at all invited us into their homes, fed us and made us feel like family. So many couples have offered to watch our kids for us so we can have date nights. The Lord is using these sweet, sweet families to make us feel at home here. Justin said just today how Pearland is starting to feel like home because of the amazing people in our lives!

So Pearland, we are here for a little bit, and I am excited for what the Lord is doing and what we get to be a part of!

Advertisements
 

Shout Out For Sojourn April 5, 2010

Filed under: Community — Maggie @ 9:21 pm

Sojourn Community Church is where our 4 families met (Ainsworths, Gangers, Davis’, and Mullins’). This church is very dear to all of us and the Lord used this body of believers to shape us and ultimately shape our decision to come to Pearland. On their website, Sojourn is inviting those who have been transformed by the ministries of their church to write about their experience. After reading a few of these testimonies and finding myself in many of them, I felt compelled to write a testimony of my own. You can read it and the other testimonies here, but I’ve also copied and pasted it below.

Former Member Maggie Ainsworth (Attended 2005-2009)

When my husband Dave and I first visited Sojourn as newlyweds fresh out of college, we had no intention of staying. We had come from being highly involved in a college ministry full of young people, and as a result, we wanted to be a part of a multi-generational church. At that time, Sojourn’s average age was something like 27.5 and the “seniors” in the church were 36. Not exactly what we had in mind.

We were invited to Sojourn by former elder, Les Groce, who was the older brother of a good friend of ours from college. He and his wife Alison invited us to check out their community group, and since we had nothing else to do as unemployed, new-in-town newlyweds, we agreed.

After that first night at their community group, I knew there was something different about this church family. The group was made up of so many different “types” of people, but they all rallied around the gospel and the common bond they shared in Christ. There were mohawks (well, one) and tatoos (too many to count), parents of small kids and single dudes, and I was blown away by how well they all loved one another and us (in our Gap clothes)! The day after that first community group we helped one of the members move, and from that point on, we were pretty much sold on Sojourn. I remember telling my husband soon after that, that if we aren’t staying at Sojourn we need to leave immediately because I already feel myself growing attached to these people.

So, community group ministry was really central to our joining Sojourn, and it was also so central to our growth and change in the four years we were at Sojourn. The Lord used community group to constantly expose my sin and selfishness. I couldn’t hide my pride and self-righteousness as I was forced to confess sin to the members of the group.

Helping my husband lead a community group was all the more humbling, as we realized weekly our inability to care for others and our desperate need for Christ to enable us to do so. As scary as it was to lead a community group at Sojourn, we knew we had freedom to fail and we certainly exercised that freedom! We knew we didn’t have to have it all together or have all the answers. This was incredibly freeing for us! We learned to seek help and to acknowledge weakness, and the Sojourn body was faithful to point us to Christ and His strength in the midst of our weakness.

My husband and I grew up at Sojourn. We came as fresh-faced newlyweds without a clue about how precious the local church is. By God’s grace, we left in August 2009 as different people. We moved Pearland, TX to help plant a new church because we want others to know the same Christ who has become more dear to us, and to know the community of His church that we experienced at Sojourn. It was heart-breaking for us to leave dear friends and community at Sojourn, but just as Sojourn holds the tension between community and mission so well, we wanted to do the same and leave our community in order to pursue mission. People in Pearland are hungry for gospel-centered community and we are so privileged to share with them what the Lord taught us through the expression of His church at Sojourn!

 

The “How” Behind Community February 4, 2010

Filed under: Community — Sarah @ 3:04 am

So, the “How?” question concerning community has proved to be a bit of a challenge to me. I realized when I started asking “How?” about community that there are a few things this can mean. “How do we do community?” or “How is community accomplished?” or even “How is community possible?” Well, I think all of these questions are important, but I figured the question of how community is possible is one of the most basic, so I’ll start with that.

We humans are an interesting lot. On one hand, most of us desire to have friends and family around us. Most of us don’t like to be alone or lonely. True, different people with different personalities can tolerate or enjoy alone time more than others, but it’s pretty universally true that most people don’t like to be isolated. On the other hand, many people purposely isolate themselves. People have been hurt in the past and don’t want to risk being hurt again, so they keep others at arm’s length. People are embarrassed or afraid of what others would think if they knew the whole truth about them, so they don’t let anyone in for too close of a look. People are selfish and only care about others to the extent that others can meet their needs and make them feel good about themselves. (Understand, when I say “people,” I mean “me.” I certainly do all this, and I think most of us would acknowledge we all do, if we were to be honest).

With this dichotomy present in people, how can true community, the kind that’s honest and real, ever truly exist? For believers, the answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, every person ultimately has the exact same problem. We are alienated. We are alienated from each other, yes, but the Bible is clear that our biggest problem is that we are alienated from God. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin (disobedience/rebellion against God) has caused us to be alienated from God and one another – and we have ALL sinned. As a result, we stand before God justly condemned for our sin: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). So, we all have a problem.

Fortunately, God, who is both just and merciful, provided a solution. He sent his Son Jesus to live a sinless life and then to die and pay the penalty for our sin: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). If we confess that we have sinned against God and believe that Jesus paid the price for our sin, we can be saved from the condemnation we justly deserve! This is great news!

What does this have to do with community? Well, the fact that Jesus died on the cross means that we can have peace with God – the very God whom we have sinned against and who should reject us because of our sin. Because of Jesus, our relationship with God is restored, and we are no longer alienated from Him. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10-11).

In the same way, because Jesus died on the cross, we have peace with one another. We are no longer alienated. We no longer have to hide or be afraid of people knowing the real person we are. We no longer have to be selfish, asking what can we “get” from other people or relationships. As believers, we are identified by Christ’s righteousness; this is what we truly are. And so, we are able to be real and honest, confessing sin, praying for one another, sharing struggles and burdens, serving one another, knowing that our identities are found in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross on our behalf.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

So, how is community possible? God has made it possible by sending his Son Jesus to live a perfect life, die to pay the penalty for our sin and be raised from the dead- defeating Satan, sin and death. Because of this, we are reconciled to God first and then to one another and are enabled to live in true community with one another. Thanks be to God.

 

Community: Lesson One January 13, 2010

Filed under: Community,Learning — Sarah @ 9:57 pm

I realized after I started thinking about how to approach this series that this is a huge topic. God, in his incredible mercy and grace, has been so faithful to teach me so much about community in the past 3 ½ years, yet every day I still feel like I have more to learn. I got kind of overwhelmed thinking about organizing or planning it out just right, so I’m just going to start at the beginning of my journey on learning about community. My first “a ha!” moment, my first lesson.

Our first week in Louisville, our neighbors Jeff and Kelly invited us to Sojourn Community Church and introduced us to Daniel and Joy.  Unbeknownst to us, God used Jeff and Kelly’s hospitality and kind invitation to put our lives on the course he had planned for us. After our introduction to Daniel and Joy, we soon met Dave and Maggie and were invited to join their community group when groups started up in August. Having no idea what we were getting into, but wanting to get plugged into Sojourn, we agreed. 

Looking back, I think it’s so cool that Dave and Maggie were our first community group leaders, and that Daniel and Joy were our second community group leaders, especially considering the journey we are all now on. I am so thankful for the time we spent in community group with them. God used it to knit our hearts together and prepare us for our future ministry together. 

Anyway, back to the story, my first “a ha!” moment. I remember our first community group so very clearly. We were all sitting in a circle in Dave and Maggie’s living room, and Dave asked us to go around and talk about what we were hoping to get out of this group (I’m not sure that’s exactly how he worded it, but that’s what I understood the question to be). 

My turn came, and I answered as honestly as I could. I told everyone that I really didn’t know what I wanted out of this group, but I was very clear on what I didn’t want. I didn’t want the same old church group, Bible study, Sunday School, small group stuff I had always experienced. Meaning, I didn’t want surface conversations about nothing important. I didn’t want awkwardness or forced and uncomfortable answers during the discussions. I didn’t want prayer requests that only centered on difficulties on the job or grandmothers having surgery (to be clear, there is nothing wrong with praying for tough job situations or family members’ surgeries- we can and should pray for those things- I just didn’t want that to be the focus of prayer time). I wanted something different than all that. I just had no category for what different would look like. 

Well, people continued around the circle, and when Meaghan’s turn came, she gave my first category for what “different” looks like. I don’t remember anything anyone else shared that night, but I distinctly remember what Meaghan said. She was holding her 6-month-old son, Conner, and said very simply, “Well, what I’m really hoping for in this group is some friends. I really need some friends because since Conner was born I’ve really been struggling with post-partum depression.” 

I know that comment may not seem like much to you, but to me it was absolutely revolutionary. I had never heard anyone be that real or that honest in a church setting before, EVER. It rocked my world. It was like God used Meaghan’s transparency at that moment to say to me, “Hold on, Sarah, you’re about to see something you’ve never seen before.” 

So, what is community? My first lesson taught me that community is raw, it’s real, it’s honest, it’s transparent. There is no room for masks or facades in true community. 

**Because community does require honesty and transparency, there is an expectation of confidentiality and privacy concerning the things shared in community group. I asked for and received Meaghan’s permission to share this story**

 

What’s all the fuss about Community? January 2, 2010

Filed under: Community,Learning — Sarah @ 9:45 pm

In an effort to make my posts on this blog a little more regular, I was thinking I could do a series on community. This is a word that gets tossed around a lot- it’s definitely a vogue topic and buzz word in church circles, and there’s even a television show entitled, “Community” (I’ve never watched this show, only heard of it).

So what’s the big deal about community? Well, there are a lot of reasons community is a big deal, especially for believers. For me, community has been a huge “a ha!” discovery in my Christian walk. I spent many, many years being a “lone ranger” Christian, trying really hard to work out my faith on my own. God finally brought me to a place where I learned that it is impossible to truly grow or change without community.

You see, all humans are created for community. This goes all the way back to Genesis and the garden of Eden. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). As humans, we are created in the image of God. There are many facets to this image, but one aspect of being created in the image of God is that we image God’s own community. God has been in perfect community with himself, in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for all of eternity. He has always exsited in community and always will. Therefore, if humans are to image God, we must also exist in community.

This is the reason God said of Adam the first man, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). A lot of people probably know the rest of this story, God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, took a rib out of his side, made Eve and presented her to Adam as his wife. This shows us that marriage was the first and still is the most intimate community we can have. However, all people, even unmarried ones, still want and need community. And, for those who are married, marriage alone is not “all we need” in regards to community.

In this series, I’ll try to do a “journalistic” approach on community – answering the “What, How, When, Why” questions that are so important to really get a good grasp of the concept being discussed. Most of it will be personal anecdotes of how God used certain people, places, passages of Scripture, etc. to each me about community.