When WE Is YOU: What Is Covenant Membership?

July 6, 2017

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity narrates Christ’s call to commitment like this:

Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desire you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself; my own will shall become yours.[1]

That commitment to Christ for Mercy Hill is carried out through Covenant Membership. Historian “Charles Deweese has defined a church covenant as ‘a series of written pledges based on the Bible which members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith.’”[2] In looking at our Covenant Membership, I was reflecting on the eight things “We are Committed to…:”

-We are committed to essential and orthodox Christian doctrines as defined by Mercy Hill Church’s Articles of Faith.

-We are committed to the Bible as God’s Holy Word (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:16). 

-We are committed to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (1 Cor. 15; Jude 3; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6).

-We are committed to a unified body (Phil 2:1-11; Rom. 12:3-8; Heb. 10:24-25).

-We are committed to gathering ourselves together on a regular basis (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:25).

-We are committed to biblically ordered church (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Mathew 18:15-18; 1 Peter 5).

-We are committed to giving generously to the mission, and living sacrificially for its progress (2 Cor. 8:9).

-We are committed to every member as a missionary (2 Cor. 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:2).

These eight commitments make a powerful statement about Mercy Hill Church.

Then I thought, who do people think the “we” refers to? It is easy to think, “Oh, that is the elders,” or “That is other people.” The truth of the matter is WE is YOU. When you raise your hand and say, “I want in as part of this family,” the WE is YOU. The transfer from WE to YOU is moving from connected to the crowd to committed to the family. Covenant Membership is giving up the idea of I and joining in on WE. I love how one pastor describes Covenant Membership:

. . . [W]e believe the body of Christ is most effectively realized in the context of the local church. The local church is a part of God’s design; we are a community on mission to make Him known . . . around the world. Covenant Membership is a way of gratefully belonging to this community of believers and is a very healthy next step for many in their faith journey. It’s not something you do in order to get something out of it, receive special rights or recognition. On the contrary, it’s something you do when you’re ready, when God has brought you from a place of ‘come and see’ to ‘come and live’ to ‘come and die.’ Covenant membership is just an outward expression of an inward work of grace in your life. Ultimately, it’s a commitment to this faith . . .[3]

Covenant Membership is all of us coming alongside one another and holding each other accountable, not only to the eight things “we are committed to” but to all of scripture and the mission. As an elder, I am held accountable to the other elders and the congregation, and I hold them accountable as well. Mercy Hill is committed to seeing the gospel spread in the Triad and throughout the world. If you follow Christ as Lord, you are to be on mission making disciples around the world. The church is God’s plan A for the world and there is no plan B. Covenant Membership is your way to say as a follower of Christ, “I will give up I and be WE to the Triad and beyond.”

The best way to check out Covenant Membership is through the Weekender here.

– Paul Howington (Assimilation Associate Director)

[1] Lewis

[2] Dever, Mark. “The Church” in A Theology for the Church. first ed.

[3] Britt.

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