At Church of the Covenant, we believe in the importance of church membership. In the booklet, “Why Join a Church?” Mark Brown and Larry Wilson present ten biblical reasons for church membership. These reasons include, “Our Lord Jesus Christ commands church membership,” “The Old Testament teaches church membership,” and “The Bible’s prescriptions for church order imply church membership.” Click here to read a pdf of the full booklet.
Some congregations require a candidate for church membership to undergo a series of classes before he or she joins the church. This seems backwards to us. The pattern in Scripture seems to be to receive the Christian into membership first, then the instruction follows (Acts 2:41-47). A young Christian needs to be brought into the Church's care and means of grace as soon as possible. So for our membership class, we do not require you to complete the class before joining, but we do ask you to show faithful attendance before meeting with the session and you will be asked to promise to complete the Sunday School class for New Members once you have joined.
Our eleven-month New Member’s course is taught year-round and this class covers some church history, basic theology, a survey of the Scriptures and church life. This class sets the tone, and gives you the tools for many fruitful years as a member in our congregation. Many members find this class so valuable that they take it again a second or third time. You can begin attending at any time, and you will just continue from the topic where you start until the class comes to that point again.
A person is received into membership through baptism (if not already baptized) and public profession of faith. The elders of the church are responsible for examining prospective members to see if they sincerely profess faith in Christ. We believe that membership into the church on earth should be as broad as entrance into the church in heaven! So a profession of faith is only focused on whether a person understands and trusts in the work of Christ and if they have personally committed their life to Him. As a church we subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith, and subscription to the confession is required for church officers and Sunday School teachers, but confessional subscription is not required for a profession of faith.
When a person is regularly attending the New Members class and is ready to publicly profess their faith, they can schedule an interview with the elders. Before your interview, Pastor Jim will meet with you to help you prepare for your interview. Part of the preparation includes coming to a full understanding our membership vows. Our members profess their faith in Christ by taking the following vows:
- Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
- Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?
- Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
- Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?
- Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church's worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?
- The congregation’s vow: “I acknowledge and receive this brother as a fellow member of Christ’s Church, and I will pledge my duty to be devoted to him in love, to honor him above myself, to be kind, tender, forgiving. I will seek to encourage, admonish, and pray for him, and as I have opportunity to teach and exhort him to live a holy life. I will be faithful to practice hospitality ungrudgingly, bear his burdens, and serve him, even to supply material need as I am able. I will seek to imitate Christ before him and put away falsehood, grudges, anger, dishonesty, evil talk, bitterness, slander and impurity, since we are members of the same body. And I will seek to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, accepting him and Christ has accepted me in order to bring praise to God.” Then you will be asked, “Do you promise to care for the Body of Christ in the same way?”
If you have any questions about membership at Church of the Covenant, please contact Jim Jordan.