Faithlife Sermons

Our Church Covenant

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Introduction

A couple of the months ago, we held our new member class and went over many things about our church.
One of the topics was our church covenant that we adopted when we updated our church’s constitution.
As we begin the new year, I’d like to revisit that covenant and allow us on this first Sunday of the new year and decade to renew our commitment to the church.

What is a Covenant?

A church covenant can be described in five different ways.
First, a church covenant is a promise – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
Second, a church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live.
While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.
It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
Third, A church covenant is a sign of commitment – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
Fourth, a church covenant is an ethical statement. Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).
One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”
A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.
Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
Lastly, a church covenant is a biblical standard.
A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.
As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

Why Have a Covenant?

Membership means I commit to love the members, serve the ministry, spread the message, support the mission, and protect the name of our church.
The Bible says: “Don’t let what you regard as good get a bad name.” Romans 14:16.
It also says: “We are not giving anyone an occasion for offense, so that the ministry will not be blamed.”
Or another version translates it as “We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord in the way that we act.” 2 Corinthians 6:3.
Because of that, we have what’s called the Membership Covenant.

Our ChurchCovenant

We will never ask you to do more than the Bible clearly teaches anyway.
We only expect yous to do what the Bible expects every Christian to do.
These responsibilities are spelled out in the Membership Covenant.

Preamble

When you go to a wedding, what’s the most important part of a wedding? The music? No.
The vows. It isn’t a wedding unless somebody says, “I do.”
That’s the most important part of the wedding.
The most important part of this membership is the covenant.
It’s the “I do.” It’s the “I’m in.”
Here’s what you’re saying when you say, “I do.”
You’re saying, “I will do these five things. I will love the members and I will serve the ministry and spread the message and support the mission and protect the name of our church family. Because it’s my church family now. It’s our family.”
The PFBC Membership Covenant. Read this part aloud
Having received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and been baptized by full immersion, and being in agreement with PFBC’s statements, strategy, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the PFBC family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members to do the following:

1. I will protect the unity of my church.

How do you do that? A couple ways:
By acting in love towards other members
When you joined this church, you found real quick it’s filled with human beings. Imperfect.
And you’re not going to like everybody that’s a member of this church.
But you’ve got to love them! That’s the commitment.
And if you don’t want to love the members of this church, don’t join us.
If you’re not willing to commit to loving the other people of this church, don’t join.
By refusing to gossip and by resolving conflicts using Matthew 18:15–17.
Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what builds up other.”
What destroys churches more than anything else is gossip.
Gossip is when you’re neither part of the problem or part of the solution, but you’re talking about it.
When you share information about a problem and you’re neither part of the problem nor part of the solution and you talk about it, you are gossiping.
The Bible calls it sin.
And you promise if you join this church to not gossip.
So if you hear something about somebody in the church, what do you do?
1. You go directly to that person and talk to them. You don’t go talking to somebody else about somebody else. Or
2. You call me and say, “Pastor, what’s the scoop here?”
If we don’t know, we’ll help you find out.
But don’t start the rumor mill that causes all kinds of stuff and problems in churches.
By following the leaders
You see other scriptures that reinforce this first part of the covenant.

2. I will share the responsibility of my church.

By praying for its growth
By inviting the unchurched to attend
By warmly welcoming those who visit
The difference between being an attender and member is like being on a cruise.
If you’re an attender you’re just along for the ride.
If you’re a member you’re a crewmember on the cruise.
As a member of the church it’s your job to reach out and bring others in.
Pray for its growth, invite others, warmly welcoming those who visit.
The Romans 15:7 says, “So, warmly welcome each other into the church just as Christ has warmly welcomed you, then God will be glorified.”
How can you be a greeter at our church?
Get here early and pass out the worship folders and greet people as they come in.
Greet them when they sit near you.
Take them out to lunch on us.
This does two things.
One, it gives you a ministry. Anybody can do this.
Two, if you do this you’ll meet some people. You’ll get to know some people.

3. I will serve the ministry of my church.

By discovering my gifts and talents
By being equipped by my pastors to serve
By developing a servant’s heart
We’ll be having a class later this year to help you discover ways to serve in the church.
We’ll look at your SHAPE
Spiritual gifts
Heart
Abilities
Personality
Experiences
Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you. 1 PETER 4:10 (PHILLIPS)

4. I will support the testimony of my church.

By attending faithfully
By living a growing and godly life
By giving regularly
We’ve talked last week about ways for you to learn the basic habits for Christian growth when we looked at the wheel.
Use the opportunities coming up to help
Read the Bible daily
Memorize the Word
Pray
Take classes - Panorama of the Bible starting on the 19th
Remember this verse: Let us not give up the habit of meeting together . . . let us encourage one another.HEBREWS 10:25 (GNT)

My Turn

There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.
First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard.
It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of to believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.
This is serious responsibility.
Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”
This challenge is a serious thing.
This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.
Our church covenant is also a comfort.
A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.
To have comfort knowing that by joining our church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.
You have Christians who are committed, before God, walk with you, pray with you, serve you.
You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We you commit to our covenant again this year?
Pray
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