We do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ,
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness, and comfort;
To be a member of West Canton Baptist Church is to be in covenant with one another, but what does this mean? To be a member of a local body is to be a member of a family; not just an honorary member, or an occasional drop-in member, but a full-fledged family member. Like any other family on earth, this relationship requires a great level of commitment to one another. Without commitment, without covenant, any chance of longevity is minimal. Thus, the church has established a covenant with one another. This is our written and verbal commitment to one another.
Why a covenant? Anyone who has a family, or has ever been a part of a family, surely knows that peace and harmony can often be illusive. Most families, at least at times, could be described as dysfunctional. Even the healthiest, most functional families experience times when their harmony is stressed. If members were not born into the family, or covenanted together in marriage, they would be far more tempted to bail out and find a new family. Frustrated family members tend to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, or that life is more peaceful in another family. Church families, even the healthiest churches, can experience times of stress, and even dysfunction. Without some sort of covenant membership with one another, church families and church family members can be the same way. It is often easy to believe that the church down the road is without problems, and that being a part of that church will be pure bliss. Many Christians simply run from one church to another, from one problem to another.
Covenant membership expects a harmonious church family to work towards harmony. In fact, Paul expected difficulties for the church at Ephesus. He indicates this in 4:2, as he instructs the church to walk "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love...” These are clearly instructions to a church family that struggles to maintain unity with one another. After humility and gentleness, they are told to bear with one another, or put up with each other. There are many times in family life when covenant is the only thing keeping folks together. Even with a covenant though, unity is very difficult to maintain. Thus, the WCBC statement of covenant is worded in such a way to suggest that without the aid of the Holy Spirit, such cooperation together will not be accomplished. Paul tells the church at Ephesus that they have each been given grace, for it is only grace that will maintain such a harmonious unity.
Why a written covenant? Perhaps you think a covenant is unnecessary, and that church should simply go about its business, things will workout fine. The idea of a covenant is as old as Adam, quite literally. God provides the example of covenant with his people all throughout the Scriptures, most notably are the covenants he makes with Noah, Abram, and David. Then God makes a new covenant with his people through the blood of his Son, Jesus. We make a covenant because it has been modeled for us in Scripture. We make a formal covenant, a written covenant, because it is necessary, and because it too has been modeled for us in Scripture. Family needs to be reminded from time to time of what we have agreed to. We need to be reminded of the covenant that we have made with one another. Read our church covenant.
Are you a covenant member of a local body? Are you a covenant member of WCBC? Your membership means something!
Watch the sermon, I Am in Covenant, here: