What is Covenant Membership?
We need to understand what covenant membership is not. Our aim is to avoid thinking of the local church in “religious” terms, such that “membership” is the card you carry that entitles you to show up when you please, consume only what you desire, and live however you wish on any day other than Sunday. The concept of “membership” has too often been associated with power, privilege, and an approach to the Christian life that grants a person all the “perks” of being thought of as a “believer” but with few or no responsibilities.
The last thing in the world that we envision when we think of covenant membership is the idea of a Christian congratulating himself/herself, and taking pride in membership in such a way that others are left feeling judged or excluded or second-rate. Covenant membership is not a badge that one flashes to make known their spiritual maturity.
Our desire, on the other hand, is to call Christian men and women to a more genuine, authentic, heartfelt, and holistic relationship with other Christians that entails commitment and discipleship and provides us with a more effective means to display the glory of Christ.
The church is not a club we join in order to reap certain benefits at our leisure, whenever we please, but is rather a complex of relationships of mutual encouragement and spiritual accountability in which we partner with one another for the advance of the gospel in the earth. We are not asking that you affiliate with an organization or an institution. We are asking you to join yourself to other Christian men and women. We are asking you to commit yourself to pursue godliness together and to live in relationships of mutual accountability and encouragement. We are asking you to identify yourself as a vital, contributing partner in this community of faith. This isn’t about someone’s control over you, but your commitment to others. It is less about authority and more about accountability. It isn’t about walking through life beneath someone, but next to them.
What, then, do we mean by the words “covenant membership” when it comes to the local church? To be a covenant member simply means that an individual is identified with, is accountable to, and is a contributing participant to this local expression of the body of Christ. With covenant membership there are certain commitments that are made, responsibilities that are embraced, and relationships that are acknowledged. “Covenant Membership” in a local church, therefore, is the way in which the individual is known to be intentionally committed to every other member of the congregation, and the congregation is known to be committed to the individual. Covenant membership means, “I now put myself under the care of the Elders and I invite them to hold me accountable as a constituent member of this body.” That is the meaning of covenant membership.
In covenant membership there are three expressions of commitment: the commitment of all Christians in a local church one to another; the commitment of all Christians in a local church to the Elders whom God has raised up to lead them and shepherd them; and the commitment of the Elders or Shepherds to the people whom they are to know, lead, feed, and protect.
If you are interested in becoming a covenant member at Bridgeway, please attend our two-week covenant membership class, called Blueprints. In this class, you'll learn about the biblical call for believers to commit themselves to membership in a local church, what membership looks like at Bridgeway, and meet the elders who will commit to care for and watch over you, equip you for ministry, and seek your growth in godliness. You can sign up for Blueprints here.