Folks who join Good Shepherd Community Church sign a church covenant. That is, we covenant together to work toward the glory of God and the good of each other in the context of our community of faith. Some wonder whether there is value in such covenants. One of my fellow members, Wayne Conrad, recently recommended an article on membership covenants from Zion Baptist Church in Taylor, MI. This is a very good article on the value of membership covenants. I do highly recommend you click through on the link above to read the article which is presented in catechism format.
That said, here are some of my own thoughts on the matter. We live in an individualistic and consumerist culture. We often forget that while we've been united with Jesus, we've also been united to His bride: His church. I prefer to call it His assembly. While this assembly has a universal and timeless expression, the most common expression is that of a local assembly of believers. Even when speaking of a region (such as Galatia), Paul uses the plural form (assemblies). There is great primacy on the local assembly of believers in the New Testament. Jesus spoke of that assembly, in Matthew, as a means of accountability for those who make her up. The New Testament pleads with us to remember that we no longer exist for ourselves, but we now exist for the glory of Jesus and the good of His people. We are to "...consider the interests of each other as much as our own." We are not free to consider ourselves merely as individuals who have a private relationship with Jesus. There is no loving Jesus if there is no loving His bride. Jesus' words in John make it clear that the two go hand-in-hand. Rather we need, and are needed by, the rest of the assembly!! It's one thing to join an assembly. It's an entirely different matter to be an assembly that is committed to the good of each other. A membership covenant is one of the ways that we keep ourselves accountable to seeking the good of one another. It's a way to remember the commitment we have, not just to Jesus, but also to His bride whom He loves gloriously. It's a way to remember that I need you and that you need me.
Below are a copy of our own church covenant as well as a paper I presented at a conference about ecclesiology--the doctrine of the church.
Thoughts from our pastors.