The Pastor Matt Church Tour 2010–Covenant Life

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yesterday, my family and I visited Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  Here is a little background info:

Covenant Life Church is a 3000+ member “reformed charismatic” church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The church was established in 1977 by a group of Christians including Larry Tomczak and C.J. Mahaney. It is currently led by Josh Harris, the best-selling author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl. Covenant Life is a part of the family of churches called Sovereign Grace Ministries, led by C.J. Mahaney.

Covenant Life Church has its roots in the city-wide charismatic prayer meeting Take and Give (TAG) which ran from 1970 to 1979. It was founded by ten people who met in a house. TAG’s instigator was Washington resident Lydia Little, who had experienced the Jesus People revival in California and wanted to see similar renewal brought to local young people. The most spectacular growth of TAG occurred after Larry Tomczak moved to the area and attendance steadily skyrocketed to over 2,000. Nearly of all the original members of CLC were at one point members of TAG. The church itself was established in 1980 with around 350 former TAG members.

Covenant Life was initially led by Larry Tomczak and CJ Mahaney. Mahaney later assumed sole leadership. In September 2004, after several years of preparation, the role of senior pastor was handed over to Josh Harris, the former Executive Pastor of CLC and founder of the New Attitude singles conference, recently renamed Next.

Covenant Life’s other pastors include Greg Somerville, Kenneth Maresco, Mark Mitchell, Gary Ricucci, Jeff Purswell, Don DeVries, Braden Greer and Eric Simmons.

The church currently meets on Muncaster Mill Road in Gaithersburg MD. They hold two Sunday morning services, one at 9:00am and the other at 11:30am.

Covenant Life also runs a K-12 day school and a home school program. Almost 300 students currently attend the day school, which is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Over 500 students are enrolled in the home school program.

Noted worship leader Bob Kauflin kicked off the service with several songs (nearly all contemporary), which were interspersed with scripted testimonials from several Covenant Life members. 

A pastor encouraged us to greet everyone, made announcements, prayed for the offering and then deacons (largely female) passed the plates.  The pastor asked guests to identify themselves by standing up (I hate that!) and volunteers distributed gift packages to those who stood.  The guests were then asked to attend a reception with a handful of the pastors after the service.

Josh Harris then preached a magnificent sermon on marriage from 1 Peter 3:1-7 culminating in their weekly communion service.

Covenant Life was, like many modern mega churches, not easy to find (so much for “location, location, location!”) and I can’t stand asking people to stand up in a service (my wife nearly crawled under the seats) but I do like the idea of a guest reception with pastors.  I also loved the layout of the building and there is an argument to be made for the sermon building to the Lord’s Supper rather than building to worship as we do at Revolution. 

This was the last stop on my “Church Tour” for a while but will offer some summary remarks tomorrow.

Until then, grace and peace.


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