Celebrating 5 Years – Steven Sherman


It was early October 2011 when a newly married couple arrived in a new city. One of us knew a few relocated coworkers, while the other only knew her husband but trustingly followed to this new place. My wife Krystle and I were married on October 1, 2011, and moved to Tampa one week later to begin our journey as husband and wife. While we decided to pursue this journey away from family, friends, and the familiarity of life for several reasons, none of them ended up being the reason we chose to stay; for that, you need not look further than the local church.

Covenant Life was not on our radar when we left Virginia for Florida. Admittedly, I had done zero research to verify that a healthy church existed in Tampa before we gave my company the greenlight for relocation. At the time, since Tampa was a big city I figured it certainly had a church good enough to meet our needs. While I now know how foolish my approach was, God was gracious in my ignorance and His plan made sure we landed at a gospel-centered community of believers.

We only visited two other churches before finding ourselves at CLC, off the highly-caveated recommendation of our former youth pastor. I can’t remember his exact quote, but it was something along the lines of, “I know this church… well, I know a guy who was in the youth group where I interned… well, he’s got a plant church there in Tampa. Not really sure if you’ll like it… I don’t even know the guy really well, but I’ll send you his contact info and the name of the church… maybe you guys can check it out?” With that reassurance, we headed to Covenant Life Church the next Sunday in search of Drew Tucker.

My first impression of CLC was: weird, small, friendly.

Before we even arrived, I thought it was odd Google Maps displayed this church’s address at the same location as another church; did they take over the building and Google hadn’t caught up? Maybe it was one of those addresses that got you in the vicinity? Nope. CLC was located right in the middle of a larger Baptist church’s campus that met within a tiny chapel with no significant identification, with a red-headed guy [Drew] on the steps greeting folks and handing out bulletins. It was all a little odd, and I thought this might not be a good idea. Despite any of this, we entered into the chapel.

To best describe the feeling of walking through the front doors of a chapel with 45 people, singing worship led by an audio track, all after being part of a church with 3,000 in average weekly attendance and an A/V setup that rivaled some major arenas, I would use the word “underwhelmed”. We already identified the benefits of a smaller church versus a mega-church as it related to getting involved and meeting people, but this certainly wasn’t the place for us. There was no youth group, no recreation ministry, and appeared to be no children’s ministry. Nothing we were accustomed to. We were used to plugging into church-based activities, but how would we get involved here?

Before and after the service, I remember plenty of people welcoming us, asking our story of how we found CLC and where we came from. I remember exchanging names with many people, and being most impressed when one week later those people remembered our names and our story. One particular person we met during the first few visits was Kaleigh Cunningham—now Kaleigh Bowman—who invited us to this thing called an “MC.” At the time we weren’t ready to make the commitment, but her friendliness along with all the members’ welcoming hearts was what brought us back those first several weeks.

Fast forward to the present day where we have been members of CLC for the past three years and even lead our own “MC”. We have seen close friendships created with people who were total strangers, we have rejoiced with those who have experienced joy in marriage and childbirth, and mourned with those who have suffered grief in death and suffering. We’ve been taught the importance of expositional preaching and been educated on the marks of a healthy church and believer. We figured out what an “MC” was and not just what it stood for (small group), what it means to do life together, and to be accountable on a daily basis to your brother or sister in Christ. We’ve shared meals, moved boxes into new homes, and had others move boxes for us when purchasing our first home to set down “roots.” Over the past three years, we have been blessed to serve and be served by our church family.

There is no other word to describe them but “family”. CLC is our family. It is the reason we have remained in Tampa when other circumstances have pushed on to return to Virginia. God blessed us immensely when He brought us to Tampa, to deliver us to the steps of CLC and forever change the trajectory of our lives. I am incredibly grateful for the way He has shown His love for us and for the body of believers He allowed us to join.

Praise be to God for the five years he has given CLC to impact Tampa and the nations.

Steven Sherman

Posted on: April 17, 2015 - 8:00AM

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