I was out in Detroit last week for several days participating as as assessor in a Churchplanting Assessment or Bootcamp for the Evangelical Covenant Church [which also explains why the week was so crazy]. While I am part of the large “C” hurch, this is the ”team” I have chosen to invest much of my energy and time as well as place myself in accountability. While I still have friends that rib me for joining this denomination or a denomination altogether, I am at peace and conviction that I do not want to be part of a church or a pastor as an island to myself. Exactly five years ago, Minhee and I were participants as “candidates” in a similar assessment. Last week, it was a little surreal to be on the other end – working with a team of twelve other pastors/churchplanters assessing 10 churchplanting candidates and their spouses [there were two single pastors] from around the country. I felt very burdened with the responsibility…
I would argue that it is much more burdensome on this end as an assessor. The entire assessment is frankly brutal. Four nights and three days of case studies, preaching, interviews, group exercises, countless conversations, psychological tests, and a session with a shrink. I was there partly to sponsor a couple from Quest Church who’s hoping to plant a church in Bellingham, WA.
Churchplanting can be exhausting, brutal, gutwrenching, and [put your adjective here]. Being a pastor is a calling; Churchplanting in itself is also a calling. Not all pastors can be good churchplanters but all churchplanters must be good pastors. While the Covenant is far from a perfect denomination, I very much appreciate their commitment to churchplanting as well as multiculturalism, social justice and global missions/world relief. Yes, this is the same Covenant with the Swedish roots… And I’m always amazed at the diversity of the fairly recent Covenant churches from around the country. For example, did you know that the following churches are connected to the Covenant:
- JPUSA – Jesus People USA [Chicago, IL]
- Life Church.tv [Oklahoma + multistate sites around the country]
- Bayside Covenant Church [California]
- Newsong Church [Irvine, CA]
- Solomons Porch [Minneapolis]
- The House Hip Hop Church [Chicago, IL]
- Emerald City Bible Fellowship [Seattle]
Approximately 80% of churchplants fail in their first year. Yet, within the ECC, 86% of its churchplants in the past decade are still around. I confimed that last week which is pretty stunning. Here’s a list of the churches planted in the past five years through the Covenant.
While the ECC churchplanting system seems a little outdated to me and needs some remodeling, I very much appreciate their prayerful and meticulous nature through the assessment and training, their commitment to the souls of the pastors and their spouses, and the fact that they put their money where their mouth is meaning they don’t just pray for you… Lastly, the Covenant supports women in ministry and leadership and that is an important issue in my heart and at Quest. While I have a level of respect for the Acts 29 network and especially it’s commitment to biblical orthodoxy and cultural relevance, I want folks to know that there are other alternatives besides Acts 29. Check out the Covenant. If you’re interested, let me know.