A church covenant is a statement declaring the mutual responsibilities accepted by the members. It is not the same as a contract. Contracts are made for the marketplace and regulated by civil authorities. Covenants deal with people and relationships, and they are enacted by families and friends. Contracts bind us to obligatory agreements. Covenants bind us to relational connections.
Church covenants are nothing new. Along with the doctrinal statement and by-laws, the church covenant has long been a standard feature in congregational governing documents, expressing how members define their reciprocal commitments and expectations.
Our covenant below instructs us in the nature of our relationships together and helps us shape our congregational culture around biblical values and behaviors.
Having entrusted our lives to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, having subsequently been baptized in obedience to him, desiring to glorify God by becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who make a redemptive impact on their relationships, and being in agreement with Bethel’s core values and stated beliefs, we therefore now willingly and joyfully, with God and with each other affirm the following.
We covenant together to diligently protect Bethel’s unity:
- by fulfilling Christ’s great commandment to love one another
- by refusing gossip, pettiness, bitterness and a critical and judgmental spirit
- by treating each other with humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance
- by being responsive followers of Bethel’s leadership
“..make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
“A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34).
“Do not let any unwholesome word come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29).
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:17).
We covenant together to assume personal responsibilities toward Bethel:
- by praying faithfully
- by giving generously
- by attending regularly
- by growing spiritually
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).
“Honor the Lord with your wealth…” (Proverbs 3:9).
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).
“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
We covenant together to serve Christ and others through the ministries of Bethel:
- by discovering how God has uniquely gifted and designed each of us for ministry
- by developing our spiritual gifts and abilities
- by cultivating the heart of a servant
- by accepting a suitable place of service
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet. 4:10).
“…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4:12).
“…serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:13).
“From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).
We covenant together to further the witness of Bethel:
- by living a godly life
- by personal readiness to tell others about Jesus
- by inviting the unchurched to attend
- by warmly welcoming those who visit
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).
“But you will receive power when the Holy spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).
This covenant describes the kind of people we want to be. It helps define the kind of church we want to become. We’re not perfect, but we’re on the way to “…attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).