Rev. John Hannah handles growing flock at New Life Covenant

When you talk to the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Oakwood Church, it is clear to see that John Hannah has a heart for God.

When you talk to the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Oakwood Church, it is clear to see that John Hannah has a heart for God.  “I love God and I love his people…sheep are not stupid—they know when people care about them,” he said. His church has seen exponential growth and has become one of Chicago’s mega churches. According to Hannah, the secret for his success is “coming out of the four walls of the church has always been an intricate part of our ministry. One of the things that our church is adamant about is outreach,” he said. According to the morning radio host, his church’s mission is “going after the loss.” “Churches swap members…but I tell my members don’t bring me your cousin that’s saved but bring me your unsaved cousin or aunt—we want the ones that don’t go to church…bring me the ones that are lost,” he said. His ministry is often seen taking it to the streets of Chicago, unafraid to roll up its sleeves and get to work. “We adopted Betty Shabazz School. Their bathrooms looked like Mahalia Jackson went there so we spent $50,000 to rehab their bathrooms,  “ the pastor said. He has other church ministries that work directly in the community. “We Clean the Green—take 1000 members and clean the neighborhoods in the community. We did a Prayer on the 9 and invited 20 more churches to help. We stretched the prayer line three miles down 79th Street.  We spent 45 minutes and for the first 15 minutes we cleaned 79th Street and then we gave out free bottles of water. The last 15 minutes we prayed for the neighborhoods,” Hannah said. Other outreach efforts included a back to school carnival where the church had a petting zoo and hired ice cream trucks. “Everybody got free ice cream and then on the corner we had prayer warriors to witness to them,” Hannah explained. Hannah said giving is in his DNA. “We teach giving and sowing. … The guy that planted me from a Hispanic church said go find your spot and paid the first 3 months rent, bought our first sound system, opened up a bank account and showed me how to structure and organize and how to do business. When he planted me he never asked for a dime, so I believe in tithing,” Hannah said. “So every month regardless of how the church has grown, I send tithes to his ministry. Not only that, there are some churches, I’m not saying it for anyone to call us, but there are some churches that God has laid on my heart and we sow into them.” But the church’s success is not without struggles. One issue New Life Covenant has struggled with was “organizing and moving people to the masses,” the pastor said. “The church had grown so and I didn’t know what to do to move this church so I brought in an agency to show me how to organize. For a month they showed me and then I took it to God.”  Although Hannah loves working in the vineyard, he strongly encourages those considering the pastorate to make sure you have heard from the Lord. “We prayed for 4 to 5 years before starting the church. … Don’t build this church around you and don’t allow your people to make a god out of you—shift them back to God. I tell my members you are not going to kill me by making a god out of me. We are going to give Him all the glory and all the praise. “ Hannah challenges those who question his sincerity. “People told me that God would never use me because I am too silly,” he said. “So I walked around trying to be serious. God has used me and my comedy to use and reach people. God has his hands on my life and has chosen me to preach for this generation.” Happy belated bday blessings to Oscar and Grammy winner, Jennifer Hudson and Malcolm Williams. “Remember you are Blessed by the Best!” Effie Rolfe is the religion entertainment columnist. Contact her at


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