This morning in worship we celebrated our connections within the local church by through our Covenant Partnership celebration. Often I am asked by people new to our community, “what does it take to become a member?” and my answer is alwasy the same, “you can’t become a member, because we do not have membership.” Instead of local church membership we have something Covenant Partnership. Today as we received five new Covenant Partners, our current CP’s had the opportunity to renew their commitment as well.
Here is some of the background on our understanding and practice of Covenant Partnership.
Scripture contains a number of references to a Christ follower’s once for all union with Jesus and His Body that occurs at the time of one’s profession of faith (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 2:12-22, 4:3-6, Colossians 1:13-22). At that moment, a person becomes a member in the universal (one, holy, catholic church) of Jesus Christ. Positional membership, based solely on the work, merit, and grace of Jesus Christ is eternal and unchanging.
A person may be a participant in a number of different churches over the course of his or her lifetime (or even during the same season of life) while maintaining permanent positional membership in Christ’s universal Church. While we cannot see the invisible bonds of membership in the Body of Christ, we can identify those who are covenant partners here at Christ Community Church.
Followers of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (and throughout 2000 years of church history) clearly identified themselves with a specific local group of believers and were challenged to become committed participants. Our desire at Christ Community Church is to follow that biblical and historical precedent, and covenant partnership is our approach of doing that.
Secondly, it is important to identify the core of people that can be counted on to help accomplish our mission and vision. Covenant partnership is one benchmark the leadership can use to determine whether we’re accomplishing the church’s mission of connecting people to God, one another, and our world.
Finally, (and this is no small point) becoming a covenant partner benefits you. It’s an important spiritual milestone that moves each of us out of the vagaries of good intentions and into the clear light of committed belonging. The covenant partnership process can be a significant defining moment in your spiritual journey.
Five Actions of Covenant Partners:
1. Realize that the love of God and neighbor is at the heart of the Christian faith and are desirous of moving toward a deeper love for God and one another.
2. Recognize their need for the grace of God in Jesus Christ and the support of the community of faith in their movement forward on their spiritual journey.
3. Believe that growth is normative for the follower of Jesus Christ and will live out this commitment by growing in their beliefs, practices, and experiences of the Christian faith.
4. Are available to others in the community to encourage and support them in their spiritual journeys and earthly struggles.
5. Are convinced that the church is the hope of the world and are committed to investing in God’s mission by generously sharing their time, energy, passions, gifts, prayers and personal resources in the dreams and ministries of Christ Community Church.
Three Commitments of Covenant Partners:
Personal Integrity – Covenant Partners will bring to the community of faith a life yielded to God that reflects the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; Galatians 5:22-23).
Relational Integrity – Covenant Partners will pursue loving and meaningful relationships both inside and outside the Body of Christ. Covenant partners take seriously both Jesus’ and Paul’s words: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35) and “So far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all people” (Romans 12:18).
Organizational Integrity – Covenant Partners will contribute generously of their time, energy, passion, gifts, prayers and personal resources in the dreams and ministries of Christ Community Church as well as being responsive to the leadership God has established.
Question: How does your faith community approach the issue of church membership?
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Turn Around (Matt Maher)
- Crash This Place (Matt Reed)
- Call to Worship
- O This God (Matt Redman)
- Rock of Ages (Paul Baloche)
- Spiritual Formation Update
- Announcements and Offering
- Covenant Partnership Celebration
- Hold Us Together (Matt Maher and a big thanks to Rob Still for his reminder that this is a great closing song)
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.