Celebrating 5 Years – Jenny Fugler


When we received our orders to Tampa a little over two years ago, my brother-in-law gave us some sound advice: look for a church that emphasizes community. A church that believes in doing life together. A church that works at knowing its members well. While Travis and I had always discussed what was important to us in a considering a local church, community was never one of the bullet points. Solid preaching? Yes. Reverent worship? For sure. Closeness in proximity to enable involvement? A plus.

Church had always been a place for us to be fed during the week. A place to connect with other believers—on Sunday—and learn about God. A place where programs were held and where we worshipped through singing. And while these can be aspects of the church, what I didn’t realize was that without the key element of community, I was missing such an integral part of what Christ intends the church to be. The past two years at Covenant Life have taught me a number of things about covenanting to live life in community with other believers:

Community cultivates an interest in people (Phil. 2:3-4). One cannot live life in close proximity with others and not be uninterested in their lives. If we’re going to meet with folks at least twice a week, I need to know about them, care about their goings-on, remember what’s important to them, pray for their struggles, and learn to enjoy them. For some people, this comes easily or naturally. Some people are natural question-askers and good listeners. Through the past two years, I’ve watched the more-experienced of our church live this way and it’s inspired me and urged me to do likewise. There is always room for much growth, but I hope that I can love people well by being interested in their lives and by listening well.

Community becomes family (Romans 8:14-17). When we create time outside of corporate worship on Sundays to be with other believers, when we allow people to see our ugly side, when we can be real and honest about the day-to-day details, when we go out of our way to serve and be a part of others’ lives … a familial bond is created. I’ve seen it in so many families/relationships within the church and I know that we feel it as well. The church is our family and it was created to be a family. We are God’s children, Christ’s co-heirs, and brothers and sisters in Christ. That has the ability to be such a beautiful reality. When we first moved here, I knew I didn’t want to live here past our assignment date. Now? You are my family, Covenant Life. I can’t think of living without you.

And finally, community within the church is a powerful tool to funnel God’s love to the world (1 John 4:7-12). We hear it all the time: “God is love,” or “God loves you!” And while those words are magnificently true, they also can fall so flat when God’s love seems like an enormously abstract concept. How does He love me? How can I be sure that He means me, personally, when it feels as if all my prayers are going unanswered? Questions that many within and outside the church wrestle with. We have the ability, responsibility and privilege of helping those hurting understand God’s love by asking “Who can I love? Who is left out?” When we pursue community with those in the church, we become a firsthand picture of what God has done through Christ to fold us into His family. We get to be the hands and feet of Christ, as He accomplishes His work on earth. Powerful stuff.

I am thankful for the local church of Covenant Life. Thankful for those who have covenanted along with our family to love well and integrate lives together. Thankful for Christ’s amazing work over the last fives years… and above all, His faithful lovingkindness.

Jenny Fugler

Posted on: April 13, 2015 - 8:00AM

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