What is Covenant Membership?
Covenant Membership at Liberti Church is participation in a family, a local expression of the universal household of God.
A covenant is generally defined as "a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties, especially for the performance of some action." Within the Bible, we find a number of examples of covenants, some between God and man (Genesis 6, 9, 15; Ezekiel 20; Hosea 2; Jeremiah 31, Matthew 26), while others are solely between people (1 Samuel 18, 2 Samuel 5). In some covenants, one party binds him or herself to fulfil the obligations of both sides of the agreement. In others, the parties are reciprocally bound to adhere to the obligations. While God's covenant with the Church universal is an example of the former, the local church covenant represents the latter. If at any one time one of the parties of this church covenant continues in a state of unfaithfulness to its provisions, the other is released from certain obligations.
While the language of the covenant appears to focus primarily on the responsibilities between the individual parties, the corporate church body, her elders and her individual members, the covenant is first and foremost an acknowledgement of general Christian obligations and an agreement to enter into those duties for God's glory and the good of the body and bride of His Son. This covenant seeks the ultimate good and flourishing of both the church body and its members in their everyday lives lived out for the Lord. The primary purpose of this covenant is to serve as a family promise with three functions:
- To clarify the biblical obligations and expectations for both the elders of Liberti Church and the individual members of the Liberti Church body.
- To establish teaching and doctrinal parameters for the Liberti Church body.
- To serve as a tool for reflection, accountability and growth towards holiness.
Each of these functions is to provide and produce in each member a closer commitment to God and His church, in hopes that Liberti Church would grow and flourish more and more in the grace and the truth of the Lord Jesus. Covenant membership is in essence the antidote to backseat consumerist churchgoing, and instead seeks true biblical discipleship for followers of Jesus.
What sort of obligations does the covenant consist of?
The membership covenant of Liberti Church contains many conditions that are merely general Christian obligations. For example, all Christians, whether members of Liberti Church or elsewhere, are required to submit to the Bible, pursue holiness, steward resources, etc. Such requirements are universal obligations for the disciples of Jesus Christ regardless of church membership - in other words, these agreements are nothing new for the believer!
However, what's unique about a church covenant membership is the agreement to submit to these Christian obligations within the boundaries of the church, with commitment being made to the church body and to submit to church leadership. This may sound oppressive or frightening to some, but on the contrary it is freeing for the Christian to commit to their local church and be held accountable by brothers and sisters to follow the Lord Jesus in holiness. That being said it should be agreed to with sober fear of God, but should not frighten would-be-members away because of its weightiness; it is only ever for the member and for the body, not against. It is only ever to seek the good, holiness, repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of members of the church.
Our church covenant membership is in place to hold members of the body and the elders to account in various ways in their walk with the Lord. Therefore, much like the covenant of marriage, church covenant membership "is not to be taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly [...] but reverently, discernibly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God." There is a weightiness of responsibility taken upon covenant members. The covenant seeks to protect the church body and church members from sin, and seeks as a family to pursue God together, holding one another accountable in holiness, with certain agreed obligations between the elders, the body, and individual members of the church. We believe this weighty commitment is beautiful and good, because it ensures true care for us all as a church family as believers and followers of the Lord Jesus.
Our Covenant Membership is birthed out of our love for the church body and its individual members whom we hope will experience the fulness of joy, which is found in faith in the Lord and obedience to Him alongside His people.
The Liberti Church covenant is comprised of a section on the church, the nature of covenants, a statement of basic belief, a statement of biblical doctrines, the obligations of the Liberti Church elders to the Liberti Church body, and the obligations of the Liberti Church members to the Liberti Church body.