Many churches of yesteryear would write a document detailing what is expected of its members. This is called a Church Covenant. Just as a Statement of Belief is a document detailing what members agree they believe, a Church Covenant details what they contract themselves to do. In essence, a covenant is what we as members pledge to do upon joining.
Covenants are serious business, especially when we consider that pledging ourselves to a local assembly is before and to God. On all things God commands us to be people of integrity, having our word as our bond (James 5:12). How much more serious does it get when our very promise is made to God?
Though not overruling scripture, a Church Covenant can work as a basic mission statement for your Christian life to help you judge and compare your actions. Just as material vows work as a benchmark to remind us of what we have contracted ourselves to do, a Church Covenant works to remind us of our responsibilities to the church body.
So, does your church have a covenant? Are you living up to it? Have you even read it? If you’re not sure if your own local assembly has a covenant then I encourage you to seek it out.
Below is a typical Church Covenant of a Primitive Baptist Church for your consideration.
Forasmuch as Almighty God by His Grace, has been pleased to call us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and all of us have been regularly baptised upon a profession of our faith in Christ Jesus, and have given up ourselves to the Lord, and to one another, in a gospel church was, to be governed and guided by a proper discipline of the Church we are members of, in the most brotherly affection towards each other, while we endeavor particularly to observe the folloing viz:
In brotherly love to pray for each other, to watch over one another, and if need be, in the most tender and affectionate manner, to reprove one another. That is, if we discover anything amiss in a brother, to go and tell him his fault, according to the direction given by our Lord in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, and not be whispering and backbiting. We also agree, with God’s assistance, to pray in our families, attend our church meetings, observe the Lord’s day and keep it holy, and not absent ourselves from the communion of the Lord’s Supper without lawful excuse; to be ready to communicate to the defraying of the Church’s expenses, and for the support of the ministry; not irregularly depart from the fellowship of the Church, nor to remove to distant churches without a regular dismission.
These things we do covenant and agree to observe and keep sacred in the name of and by the assistance of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen”
Originally published July 2017