Where we are at:
At present Covenant Church is a small church with approximately 175-200 people in our Sunday worships. We are primarily an ethnic Chinese church of a moderate social/economic status and with a complete spectrum in age. There is diversity in the backgrounds of the congregation, with the majority being of those born in Hong Kong, China, and the United States.
Generally speaking, we are a Chinese congregation of college-educated, middle class working professionals. The nucleus of the congregation is young couples with young families. Although the congregation is bi-lingual and bi-cultural, there is mutual acceptance of each other. We seek to utilize the two languages and cultures to further the Kingdom of God rather than let it become an issue of division.
We are, at present, seeing the rounding out of the congregation, with an increase in the number of infants and children on the one end of the spectrum and a growth in our elderly population on the other.
Geographically speaking, the congregation is spread over a large area throughout the city and the neighboring counties. Many of the people actually live in Flushing (Whitestone). Many live in the bordering communities, such as Elmhurst, Bayside, Jackson Heights, Nassau and even New Jersey and Brooklyn. Most commute to the church by car, although the church is readily accessible via public transportation.
At present, Covenant Church tries to be a close knit, friendly group that enjoys a time of sharing and fellowship together. This is the primary means by which the church is growing, through the invitation of friends to the church. The existing congregation endeavors to be open and accepting of newcomers and work consciously to make all visitors welcome. We hope to make this one of Covenant Church’s greatest strengths. Therefore, the small cell groups of Covenant Church are an important point of contact for the church to non-Christians.
The church is still attempting to establish its identity and make an impact upon the Flushing/Whitestone community. We are currently in the process of developing ministries for the community, and are making small inroads into the fiber of the community.
Where we are going:
The ideal target size of Covenant Church would be about 200-250 people. It will bear a similar composition with the existing congregation, in its ethnic, cultural and social/economic makeup. However, we seek a more proportionate distribution over all ages. We would hopefully achieve this numerical growth within 2-4 years.
Instead of growing into an even larger church, it would be the goal of Covenant Church to continue its growth by planting new churches in the surrounding neighborhoods, such as in Elmhurst, Bayside, Brooklyn, Nassau, Bergen, etc. This calls for the church to constantly prepare a nucleus group of approximately 30-50 people to go off and begin new churches.
Therefore, Covenant Church would begin preparations when it grows to approximately 150-180 people. In addition to preparations of a nucleus group, Covenant Church would need to find and call a pastor to lead the church-planting work. This person might very well be grown from within the congregation of Covenant Church. We hope to continue to develop and establish contact and relations with men of the reformed faith.
The new church would become an independent, self-governing church in the PCA, with its own Session, after a few years. However, it would probably require oversight from the Session of Covenant Church during its formative years.
It is perceivable that the new churches will differ from the makeup of Covenant Church, either ethnically, culturally, or social/economically or in a combination of these parameters. It is in this manner by which Covenant Church will fulfill the mandate to reach all the different types of people in the community effectively. Most likely, each new church would draw its congregation over the greater New York City area, attracting those that would match its makeup.
In the future, even as Covenant Church grows in size, it will stay primarily a fellowship-teaching type church. The size of 200-250 is probably the upper limits by which it can maintain a warm, friendly, sharing type of church. There might be some minimal division within to enhance close fellowship but primarily, the church would attempt to maintain its strength of being in close relationship.
However, the style and the strengths of the new churches could vary greatly, depending upon the strengths of the pastor and the nucleus group and the community/people it is reaching.
As Covenant Church grows to 200-250 and is established more firmly and visibly in the community, we need to truly do community ministry/service. Covenant Church needs to interact with the community to determine its needs and develop ministries to meet those needs. Many of these needs will be directed at people that are different from the congregation of Covenant Church. We can utilize the benefit of our future sister churches who would be appropriate channels for them, as we work for the Kingdom in cooperation with one another. This cooperation will enable Covenant Church to be more effective in the Kingdom of God, as well as the other churches.
In conjunction with planting new churches, it will require that Covenant Church develop leadership to do so. Therefore, Covenant Church must provide good training and opportunities to exercise gifts for the laity, leaders and pastors. To this end, we need to work towards establishing a teaching ministry in cooperation with the other PCA churches in the Presbytery and with seminaries in the reformed tradition. Together we can have the resources to train leadership.