Four years ago we launched a church – with the hopes of living God’s dream for a church. Our church was to be located in east Modesto – an area that didn’t have a lot of churches (there are 40,000 people who live in Modesto east of Oakdale Road). Our church was to try to reach people who didn’t have a church home, and we found there are a lot of those people in Modesto and Riverbank (an average Sunday in our county has only 13% of the population in church). We started with God’s dream. We were committed to following God’s dream – but often we weren’t sure what we were doing!
Our first service was in December of 2009 – we had over 100 people come! Of course, many of those were supporters from Modesto Covenant, but we had some new people, too. For the first few months we averaged about 80 people at service, then after Easter that went to 100, and we grew in the summer to 120 on average. These are not just numbers – these are people. The people who came to our church were often very committed Christians – people who wanted to be a part of a church plant to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Very quickly they learned they could not just serve, God was asking them to LEAD – to be challenged out of their comfort zone to make an even bigger impact for Christ.
We also had a lot of people come to our church who were just very unhealthy – especially in relationships. Many of these people found God’s healing and grew and found health. Some of them did not – and expected the church to pay every bill, fix every problem, and make everything better in their lives. They left (and people still leave) frustrated at the church and often at me as the pastor. Through these times our church, staff, and Life Groups learned to love in stronger ways – to have boundaries and not take away responsibility and work from those who are trying to become healthy. Solving all the problems for an unhealthy person does not make them healthy. We are now a lot stronger about communicating to people a plan for growth and health – with Christ.
By far, though, most of the people who have come to Covenant Grove Church have been those who have drifted from church, and God. Each person has a story – some of a church or pastor they are angry at, some who made bad choices but never stopped believing in Jesus, some who are just looking for hope, or community, or strong teaching. Our church family has reached out to these people – and welcomed them home like the story of the Prodigal Son – the father runs to the son, and wraps his arms around him – “let’s have a feast!” Our heart is to reach out and call people home to Jesus, home to His family, home to a life in His Word and His will – making choices that strengthen your life for the storms.
Authentic Devotion – roots that go down deep – a walk with God that grows from the inside out. This is Covenant Grove Church. This is our heart for Christ, our mission as we reach out, our passion as we worship and dive into the Word and serve Him. A lot of things have changed over the last 4 years, we have learned a lot! But what has not changed is that hope and that dream – to be a church that authentically follows Jesus Christ. So here is to continuing that dream of devotion – for another 4 years – and 40. All for Him.
Happy Birthday Covenant Grove.