Our History & Sure Foundation

This past Sunday I shared some very brief reflections on our church's history as we looked at our sure foundation. In case you missed the service, the notes are below

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In many ways this is a historic Sunday for us as a church but before we go any further, I want us to do something very specific: I want to us thank God that we have had a sure foundation as a church, and then feel the godly weight of legacy to continue to build on this foundation.

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” [14] And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [16] Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-18 ESV)

Three brief things I want us to notice here:
1. Jesus is our foundation. Peter’s name sounds very similar to the word “rock” in the original language so Jesus is making a play on words here. But it’s important to notice that he’s not saying that Peter is the rock he’ll build his church on, no he says this after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ and Lord. The confession of Jesus as the Lord and Messiah is the foundation Jesus will build his church on...and how appropriate that Peter “the Rock” is the first one to confess this.

Our church began in the late 70s and early 80s. It grew out of a powerful and unique move of God across the country and in El Paso. As God began saving people many people began gathering in various churches and our church came out of two of these gatherings merging together and forming “Church of the Covenant.” A few years ago I sat down with many of the original members of the church––people like the Snows and the Wilkins and with Chuck Mosely who was one of the founding pastors then–– and it was amazing to hear these stories: God meeting people who were religious who did not really know God and just powerfully changing them, God meeting people through preaching and worship, God testifying to the power of the word with powerful outpourings of the Spirit. But there’s one thing the stories had in common: God used the Spirit to shine a spotlight on Jesus.

I thank God that our church was, from its beginning, built on Jesus and not around something else-–like a view of the end times, or a political party, or a particular ethnicity. These were not people who thought they had it all together, they were people who saw their need for a Savior. These are not people who thought they could be happy apart from Jesus, they saw that true happiness was in Jesus. This was a church that saw their need, but saw who Jesus was, and confessed “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

2. This foundation will never give way. The “rock” being built on in the ancient world needed to be steadfast and secure and Jesus says this is the most secure foundation possible. What is built on this foundation can withstand the assaults of the world, the flesh, the devil, anything.

A few years in our church’s history the church went through difficult times––many of the founding leaders were sent out to other places, or stepped down for various reasons, and some of those reasons included sin. This was a hard time in the church, but a time that tested how the church had been built. I truly believe that the reason the church survived was that it had been built on Jesus, that people were there because of Jesus and when things shook they clung to him. Many of the situations illustrated the same glorious truth––that we need a Savior, that we need a rock, but that Jesus is that Savior that will never leave and is our rock to stand on. In some ways I believe God allowed the church to walk with a limp from then on, to help us see that only when we are weak is he strong.

And in the midst of hardship God was faithful to his church––God sent pastor Tony Walsh and his family from Florida to be here. Tony was used uniquely by God to stabilize the church and strengthen our foundations. He encouraged us that to love Jesus was to love the truth about Jesus the “sound doctrine” the New Testament refers to as being about Jesus. A few years later Joe Calabello came to help Tony and later led our church for a time, helping us see how the truth about Jesus applied to all of life. The church faced unique challenges in each season but one thing was constant: we were built on Jesus and our foundation held firm.

3. From this foundation the church advances. Jesus promises we would not just withstand, but advance––gates don’t usually advance, they defend. This is saying nothing can stop the advance of the church in the power of the Spirit for the purpose of God.

From the beginning we have sent pastors and leaders out to serve elsewhere and even through difficult times God was faithful to use this church to sow into our people. We have sent out pastors our leaders to Phoenix, Juarez, New Mexico, Canada, Florida, and Dallas. People have come to know Jesus through the people we have sent out and their lives changed eternally. Churches have been established and strengthened through their ministry and this is of eternal value. 

Five years ago God led us into a new season––we’ve made many changes and seen God do new things. I’m excited that we are growing, that our Community Groups are multiplying, that God is raising up leaders, but that’s not where our confidence should be. I’m excited about the future of our church, because my confidence is that we have the same foundation we've always ha. I am looking forward to our next 30 years as a church because in some ways we know it already: we will face challenges, but our foundation will hold, and the gospel will advance. May it be so by God's grace and for his glory.