But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jer. 29:7)
God calls us to love others as he has loved us. But how can we do that in a world that is increasingly indifferent or hostile to the gospel? How can we seek the welfare of those around us despite the conflicting conceptions of truth that often separate us? And how can pastors equip their congregations to engage today’s pluralistic culture with courage, commitment, and Christ-like compassion?
Covenant Seminary graduates like Dan Herron (MDiv ’11) and Brad Tubbesing (MDiv ’06) are trained to do exactly that: love people where they are, bringing the compassion of Christ and the truth of his gospel to bear on their deepest needs so that they are engaged, empowered, and encouraged to recognize their own high Kingdom callings and live them out faithfully.
Dan serves as the gathering pastor for Hope Presbyterian Church, a PCA church plant in Bloomington, Indiana. Brad is the campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship at Indiana University Bloomington (IU). Through a dynamic model of ministry that pairs church planting with campus ministry, Dan and Brad are working together to transform Bloomington and the broader the culture for Christ by reaching out to the city and a major university where many of the ideas that influence culture are shaped. It’s a daunting task, but one for which they—and many others like them—have been prepared by God’s grace and the gospel-centered training they received through Covenant Seminary.
Dan notes, “One of the primary reasons we’re here is to deconstruct some of the false ideas people have about the Bible and the church and help them see the wonderful truth that no matter what their deepest hurts may be, Jesus meets them where they are through the beauty of his gospel.”
Dan previously served with Great Commission Ministries at the University of Illinois before coming to Covenant to pursue his MDiv. While here, he served with several churches in St. Louis area. After graduation, he worked with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, to become an approved church planter for the PCA. Dan, his wife, Erica, and their family moved to Bloomington in 2012 to plant Hope Pres in conjunction with the start of Brad Tubbesing’s RUF campus ministry. Getting the church started required devoting a lot of time and effort to building relationships in the community, but all that work is beginning to bear some fruit.
Dan says, “Starting with just two families wondering how God would build a church, we hosted dinners, threw parties, played sports, made friends in the community, and looked for ways to serve others wherever we could. God used that to do amazing things in this place. We want to be a church where people can share both our beauty and our brokenness as we cling to the gospel of grace, a church where no one is alone and we are all part of God’s redemptive mission together.”
Why combine the idea of a church plant with that of a corresponding RUF ministry? And why in a place like Bloomington?
Brad Tubbesing answers, “If we want to reach and influence the culture for Christ in lasting ways, we have to reach and influence those in the major universities where the ideas that form and shape that culture originate and go out across the country. We need to reach both the university and the town. But we also have to do more than just introduce students to RUF and the growth they experience in the campus ministry community. We have to also get them plugged into the local church, help them to know people at different ages and stages of life from them, get them serving in the church and to see their need for it as they graduate from IU and move out into the world.”
Brad grew up in the PCA and attended Covenant Seminary right after college. Called in 2007 to start an RUF campus ministry at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the Lord’s blessing on this ministry inspired in him a desire to bring the gospel to other college campuses. Brad and his wife, Caroline, and their family moved to Bloomington with the Herrons in 2012 to begin the RUF at IU in conjunction with the planting of Hope Pres by Dan. His heart for university students and the challenges they face is at the core of his ministry.
Both Dan and Brad are grateful for the training they received at Covenant Seminary. They say that their time here helped shape their approach to ministry in ways that they find invaluable on a daily basis.
Dan notes, “All of my professors were wonderful people, but Prof. Jerram Barrs was especially influential in my view of evangelism and apologetics. He taught me how to approach people in our culture very particularly and thoughtfully, seeking to listen to them and love them well.”
Brad adds, “The whole curriculum at Covenant was great, but the counseling classes were especially helpful in teaching me how to recognize and deal with my own issues in a biblical way, and help others to do the same. I use that almost every day as I meet with students. I would feel so lost without that.”
Would You Like to Help?
Do you have a heart for helping church leaders like Dan and Brad reach and redeem our communities and our culture for Christ? Please consider how God may want to use you to support our Kingdom training mission.