This Sunday, our church membership class will be the first to be introduced to a “Covenant of Commitment” between themselves and the church. We’ve rather rapidly experienced the spiritual and practical benefits of making our membership class more rigorous, theologically deeper, and required for the joining the church. Prior to that, we saw everything from people joining and dropping out in a matter of months to non-Christians joining (Why this phenomenon, you may ask? Since our church community was so welcoming, they said, they could overlook the Jesus-Son-of-God thing).
It’s our hope that this covenant will not only clarify and confirm the investment we expect from people joining the church, but also make it clear what should be expected from the church receiving committed people to its community. I think this is important because mainline churches often seem to operate under the assumption that, apart from grave heresy, they can do as they please so long as there is reasonable unity with the elders and staff. However, a church that covenants with its members binds itself in a sacred contract to uphold its end of the promises. Should that church fail to live up to those promises, members have indisputable grounds for calling the leadership of the church to account.
To be honest, I’ll be excited when the first person does. It will likely be good medicine for this congregation in renaissance.
What are your thoughts on church membership covenants? Thoughts on the covenant below? It’s not a document that’s written in stone, so feel free to make suggestions.
I, _________________________________________ as a follower of Jesus Christ, covenant with my church, my God, and myself to:
Walk with God daily in Bible study, prayer, and following Christ’s teachings in turning away from my sins and pursuing a holy life.
Invest myself in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with non-Christians.
Be involved in discipleship outside of Sunday worship because I recognize the need for accountability and community in my life.
Receive from those appointed over me accountability, counsel, and/or correction for my actions. Specifically, my actions that do not reflect how Jesus teaches me in the Bible.
Give generously the time, resources, and giftedness that God has blessed me with so that the Gospel is advanced and God is glorified.
Likewise, the leadership of the church covenants to:
Teach the Word of God to the best of our ability.
Consistently preach the Gospel in our words and actions and from the pulpit.
Offer the necessary programs and opportunities that will lead to your spiritual growth and maturity.
Provide care in sickness, counsel in crisis, and guidance in what it means to follow Jesus and His commandments.
Make programmatic, financial, staff, and leadership decisions with the advancement of the Gospel and the glory of God solely in mind.
In signing this, I affirm my membership vows and place myself in a covenant with my church to hold me accountable to those vows, even as I hold the church accountable for its vows, so that together we can be the body of Christ demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our neighbor, city, and world.