Churches Creatively BLESSing Neighbors, Friends

CHICAGO, IL (May 2, 2017) – Renew Covenant Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, handed out an envelope containing $25 to each of the roughly 135 families who attended this past Sunday and invited them to use the money to BLESS someone with it.

“The place was buzzing with energy and excitement—people with tears came up talking about how beautiful the church is to do this,” said pastor Jamie Staples. “I overhead a girl say, ‘I’m praying over this money to see what Jesus wants me to do with it.’” The congregation will learn what happened in five weeks when people will share their experiences.

The church took the bold step as part of its kickoff to participate in the denomination’s five-week intentional evangelism initiative, BLESS. Each week the congregation focuses on one of the areas suggested by the letters: “Be in prayer, Listen with care, Eat together, Serve in love, and Share your story.”

Another congregation, Harbert Community Covenant Church in Sawyer, Michigan, has been posting guided meditative prayers on SoundCloud each week.

They are among the creative ideas churches are implementing as they take part in the initiative, which has far exceeded expectations of Covenant’s Make and Deepen Disciples leaders who developed the initiative.

“The Spirit of God was so thick in that room!” Robinson said. “I was instantly brought to tears when I saw the names on my list. These were ones very near to my heart too.”

The Covenant Bookstore has received some 270 orders and distributed roughly 40,380 packets, said manager Kevin Kempe.

“The overwhelming response to BLESS is stunning,” said Beth Seversen, director of evangelism. “I am so excited to see prayer and intentional evangelism increase in our churches. May God’s Spirit use BLESS in the lives of Covenanters to help them bless their neighbors in tangible ways and over time introduce them to Jesus!”

BLESS builds on past evangelism initiatives such as Bringing My World to Christ, One Step Closer, and Ask the Lord of the Harvest.

At the end of the five weeks people are encouraged people to bring forward a list of people they commit to pray for and share the gospel with. In turn churches commit to pray for the names on those lists and then bring the lists to regional and denominational Annual Meetings for more prayer.

Although the ECC designated March 19 as Prayer and Evangelism Sunday when churches would conclude the series and bring the cards forward, congregations also were encouraged to participate on different weeks if it worked better for them.

Keith Robinson, pastor of Riverwood Covenant Church in Greenfield, Minnesota, said their congregation tacked their prayer lists to a free-standing cross at the front of the stage on a Sunday morning.

Later that night at the church’s monthly prayer gathering, members went forward and removed a list different from their own, and took it back to their seat to pray over the names.

“The Spirit of God was so thick in that room!” Robinson said. “I was instantly brought to tears when I saw the names on my list. These were ones very near to my heart too.”

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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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