[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]
Justin Perry and Drew Tucker are SEBTS alums and co-planters and pastors of Covenant Life Church in Tampa, Florida (www.covenantlifetampa.org). Justin and Drew were equipped for their church planting and pastoral ministries through their study at SEBTS and their sending church, North Wake in Wake Forest, NC. The Perry and Tucker families met and became close friends while leading and multiplying small groups at North Wake Church. Through their shared time in North Wake’s church planting residency program and the wise counsel of elders and friends, they recognized that their gifting and desires aligned well – so well they endeavored to plant a church together.
After much prayer and research, Justin and Drew determined that Tampa, Florida for its growing population, diverse cultures, high concentration of university students, and great need for gospel-centered churches was an ideal location for a new church plant. As Drew states, “Tampa has everything you can possibly want in a city. Though this was the overwhelming perspective [from locals] no one mentioned healthy churches” in the urban corridor of the city. Thus, after identifying the major cultural areas within three miles of downtown, the Perrys and Tuckers set about planting right in the middle of them.
In September 2009, they began meeting for worship with 6 people in a living room. In April 2010, they covenanted together as a church with 13 members and began meeting in a public location for corporate worship on Sunday mornings. The first week of April 2011 Covenant Life Church celebrated its 1-year birthday as a church. It now has 30 members and averages somewhere between 70-90 on Sunday mornings.
More important than growing a church in numbers, Justin and Drew focus on the theology of the church, which informs its practice. By adhering to a healthy understanding and practice of regenerate church membership, CLC seeks to equip its members in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. In so doing, the church understands its identity and purpose in Tampa as one wrought by Jesus Christ via his gospel. As Drew states, “we’ve been reminded of what is truly essential in planting: an uncompromising fidelity to the gospel and the authentic community that flows from fellowship in the shadow of the cross.” This authentic community, then, extends into the urban corridor of Tampa. For example, CLC has gained favor with the people of Tampa resulting in opportunities to engage the community with the gospel, from working alongside the city’s homeless ministries to helping sponsor several family events in the city. These are just a few examples of how CLC seeks to live out its gospel identity in the community.
So, how can we come alongside CLC in Tampa? (1) We can pray for continued favor among the diverse Tampa communities for Justin, Drew, and the CLC family; for grace, power, and wisdom for the Perry and Tucker families; and (2) we can provide financial support or help with a short-term support trip by contacting
Drew Tucker, Pastor to Missional Communities: firstname.lastname@example.org