By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
SEWELL – For Rev. Kevin Brown, pastor of The Perfecting Church, the word “church” is a verb and not a noun.
So when his congregation moved into a home it can call its own, The Perfecting Plaza, in November after being, what Brown called “tent dwellers” for its first eight year, he knew the same spirit and identity would be with them.
“We spent two years at the movie theater there on Tuckahoe Road in Washington Township,” Brown said. “Then we spent six years at the performing arts center, Investors Bank Performing Arts Center.
“So, we really built a culture, a DNA and a familial bond between that five or 600 people that were there every Sunday at that time. We’ve built that kind of bond together. So by the time we moved in, we already had an identity. The building really didn’t give us our identity,” said Brown.
Growing Congregation, Faith
City and state officials gathered at The Perfecting Plaza in Sewell for the grand opening of the facility in November, the new home of The Perfecting Church, Loving Our Cities nonprofit and its various ministries.
The growth over the past eight years has been phenomenal, some 1,500 members, making it one of the fastest growing in the Greater Philadelphia region.
“But more importantly people are coming to Jesus and getting baptized every age, ethnicity and economic rung on the ladder,” said Brown.
Brown told Front Runner New Jersey, though, that becoming pastor was the farthest thing from his mind when he was young, calling his road to this point in his life truly God-lead.
“My father went home to be with the Lord in 2005 but before he left, he told me I was going to pastor,” Brown said. “I said, ‘Dad I would never do that. I’m a business guy. I’m never going to pastor.’
“I mean, I never thought I would pastor. I’ve ran an executive search firm that placed doctors in the pharmaceutical industry. And as far as I knew, I’d be a good Christian member of a local church and I’ll teach some courses in the Bible College but I would never be one of those guys that have ranch every Sunday and lead a local congregation. That would never be me,” he said.
Brown had to overcome difficult hurdles just to reach that point in his life. He doesn’t shy away about dropping out of college, fighting the demons of alcohol and drugs, and having a child with a college freshman, who is now his wife Angela Brown, out of wedlock.
He said that story remains part of his biography because people need to know they can reach for the sky regardless of how far they have fallen.
“Most of the time as pastors, we’ve ended up making ourselves Gods instead of pointing people towards God,” Brown said. “And as a result of it, we’ve caused the body of Christ not to be the body of Christ, but to be the audience of us. So that story says to everyone that sees it and hears it that we were deeply broken, deeply flawed, and we encountered the love of Jesus and he taught us what it looked like to live as followers of him, what it looked like to not love each other with our own kind of love, but to learn how to love each other with his kind of love.
“First, number one we would have left out a huge part of our story that really gives God glory by not telling it. Number two, we would have made rock stars out of ourselves and exalted ourselves and made people believe well, we’ll never be able to be like whatever they are. And nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we were nothing and we just started obeying God and fell in love with him,” Brown added.
Leap of Faith
The Browns attended another church, slowing becoming more involved with that ministry until God started leading them to start their own church in 2011.
“We literally sat on the sofa one day in 2010 and did it,” Brown said of the time when he and his wife started thinking serious about The Perfecting Church. “We started writing down the pros and cons of us following what we heard God telling us to do. We probably got about two comments, three comments at the most and I said ‘What in the world are we doing? How are we going to pro and con obeying God?’
“So we just tore it up and just said, ‘We just got to do what we know God is telling us to do.’ We just never could have anticipated that it would have been as fruitful as it is that in eight years, you’ve had just about 1,500 people say that they were joining in on the mission and vision that we received from God,” the pastor said.
Growing Up Together
The Perfecting Church now runs eight ministries the members can participate in. Angela Brown, a native of Chesilhurst, leads Loving Our Cities as executive director of community engagement and strategic partnerships. Loving Our Cities addresses the needs of the surrounding community and neighborhoods.
“When Beyonce talked about, let me upgrade you, they were talking about Kevin Brown and Angela Brown,” Brown said is his wife. “We’ve grown up together. Literally, I was 22, she was 17. We learned how to be adults together. We learned how to lean on God together. We learned how to parent together. When I first met her, I said like, this woman is incredible.
“She knows how to love God and respond to God and could see that potentially like what my mother has. I see her as like a great thinker and strategic implementer. The way that I saw my heart and I just felt like this is an incredible woman here and she’s excelled anything that I thought God could possibly do with someone. She’s just a really gifted, strategic thinker and convener,” Brown said.
Church Is a Verb
Now their children, K.J., 29, and Olivia, 25, are part of the church’s growth as well. Brown said The Perfecting Church is about its members and the word of God, which has allowed them to grow regardless where they called home.
“We never had a desire to be the biggest church in the city,” Brown said. “We never saw church as a noun. From the beginning, we understood church to be a verb and we wanted to church the city and thus churching the city, we did not need more preachers to preach great sermons.
“I think we’ve got some great preachers in our community and we’ve got a lot in this region, but what we really needed to see was what does it look like for people to live out their lives as followers of Jesus and how do they do that in the public square,” Brown continued.
That calling continues to grow at The Perfecting Church.
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