What is a 'Church Covenant' and Why is it important?
First, what is the difference between a doctrinal statement and a church covenant? "A covenant deals mainly with conduct (although it contains some doctrinal elements), while a confession of faith centers more heavily on beliefs." (Charles W. Deweese, Baptist Church Covenants p.7) Therefore, our church covenant focuses much of its attention on our interactions with God and with one another.
A church covenant can then be described as follows:
- A church covenant is a summary of the manner in which we have agreed as members of this assembly to interact with one another. In essence, we are committing ourselves before God to treat one another, to serve one another and to interact with one another in the manner stated by our church covenant.
- "A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith." (Deweese p.7)
- A church covenant is a commitment. It is a commitment before God, our local church, and a personal commitment to live in accordance with the covenant.
- A church covenant is a physical expression of our spiritual duty, as believers, to rightly relate to both God and our fellow man.
- A church covenant functions as a biblical standard and serves as a means of accountability within our local assembly. As members of a church, we are to be exhorting one another to live holy lives, and we are to challenge fellow believers who are persistent in overt sin. A church covenant is therefore an essential part of a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.
- A church covenant also serves as a statement of our moral committment. We are agreeing together to hold one another accountable to obey the truths we claim as our rule of faith and practice.