Celebrating 5 Years – Hope Henchey


My hands were shaking as I texted my husband. I was on the verge of tears and I could hardly even walk, I was so excited. (That’s dramatic, I know, but this ended up being a very decisive moment for us.)

What life-altering event happened that August afternoon in 2012? I had stumbled upon the website of Covenant Life Church of Tampa.

Peter and I had been to Bible college and studied theology and ecclesiology enough to know what we wanted in a church. Unfortunately, like many people in our situation, we were aware that our current church did not have all the marks of a healthy church that we desired, so we withdrew our participation and would look for any excuse to be “unable to make it” on a Sunday morning. We were listening avidly to John Piper and Tim Keller sermons on our iPods and—as is common for couples in their first years of marriage—we found contentment in the fellowship of each other, pridefully ignoring the larger local body. We even talked with overseas workers and heavily considered packing our bags and joining a particular church in Dubai, until we realized the main reason we wanted to move there was not for reaching the unreached, but just to be a part of a healthy, missional, gospel-centered church.

I devoured every word of CLC’s website (and anything else Google could tell me about it—I even stalked the pastors’ Twitter feeds!) I listened to a couple sermons, and by that Sunday I was almost certain this was the church we had been praying for. When we visited the corporate gathering, we were blown away by the church’s awe for the Word. Also, thirteen people greeted us, and we were invited to every MC twice—yes, I kept track! That Tuesday we joined an MC, and on Friday we went to Foundations and began pursuing membership.

It quickly became evident that Covenant Life Church of Tampa would be—and is—a major, ever-flowing outlet of God’s kindness to us, to the other members, to Tampa, and to the world.

The thing I like most about Covenant Life is the culture. Coming from a background where “membership” meant virtually nothing, I never knew who from those sitting around me (or even serving with me) were actually followers of Christ. Anyone who loves Jesus must be called to vocational ministry, it seemed … and since we weren’t pursuing that, I felt worthless. But at Covenant Life, the culture is everyone loves Jesus. Everyone loves each other. Everyone loves the lost. Everyone loves the nations. The elders’ intentionality with preserving the purity of the church has resulted in near-certainty that any member I talk to will strengthen my faith somehow. The “one-another’s” of the Bible actually happen in this church. And it’s incredible to watch and be a part of.

For so long I had relied on celebrity pastors whom I’ve never met to be my shepherds. If I needed advice, oftentimes I just emailed my favorite women bloggers. Now I’m grateful for the incredible, Jesus-centered resources that are available to us, but those non-relationships were never meant to fill the spaces in my life that God has created for people I actually know in the local church. I resonate deeply with 1 Corinthians 4:15; I used to have countless guides but no spiritual fathers (or mothers.) Now, praise be to God for the ever-increasing community of people from all different backgrounds and life stages, who know me and walk with me as I keep learning how to follow Jesus.

The rich counsel that my friends give me in MC accountability could never be packaged in a book. I don’t desire famous guest speakers on Sunday mornings because I am content that our pastors aren’t just preaching the Word, but preaching the Word to us, as their very lives seek to do the same. I don’t feel like I always need to have my nose in a Christian resource because I get to hear the Word on the mouths of my brothers and sisters when we play board games or sit around a fire.

Covenant Life has offered me real relationships and God has used them to cause real growth in me. No words could describe my gratefulness for God’s work through CLC. I love you, church!

Hope Henchey

Posted on: April 12, 2015 - 1:15AM

Comments are closed.