September 30, 2012 is Covenant Sunday!
What does covenant mean?
Covenant is a biblical concept. In the Ancient Near East, it was a binding agreement in which covenant members had certain obligations and could expect certain benefits in return. What made a covenant different from a simple binding agreement is that covenant implied meaningful relationship: God covenanted with Noah, with Abram, with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai, and eventually brought about a new covenant available to all through Jesus. In the scriptures, covenant meant an agreement that lasted for life—in the Gathering Network we are attempting to use this meaningful term while recognizing that membership of a local church is often not for life. The Gathering Network will have an annual renewal process in covenant partnership each fall (late September or early October).
What's the difference between covenant and membership?
The Old Testament refers to covenant often. Covenant is the Gathering Network’s understanding of "membership." Who is the covenant between—me and God or me and the Gathering Network? Both. As one people, we covenant with God. As a local expression of God’s church, we covenant together with each other. This means we covenant with each other and with God.
Why should someone covenant with the Gathering Network?
The ultimate question here is, “Why should someone be part of a church?” Committing your life to Jesus, to others in community, and to bringing the healing of Jesus to the world is what it means to be church. Formally participating in covenant is a way of declaring that this commitment to Jesus and his church is a serious reality in your life.
How can I become a covenant partner?
Although you can covenant with the Gathering Network at any time throughout the year, covenant season takes place annually in early fall; this is a time of focused reflection on what it means to embody our shared values [the 3 loves + the 4 commitments] as a community. At this time, existing covenant members are invited to re-affirm covenant, and others are invited to affirm covenant for the first time.
Anyone is invited into covenant with the Gathering Network through the following procedure:
- Prayerfully consider what you are signing and prayerfully interact with others who are already in covenant with the Gathering Network
- Personally commit to embodying our shared values [the 3 loves + the 4 commitments]
- We will sign covenants as a community on September 30, 2012 at our annual covenant celebration service
What is the role of a person in covenant? How can I live that out?
A Covenant Member agrees to both adopt and embody our shared values and practices, the 3 loves + the 4 commitments.
Anyone who is a covenant partner or curious about being a covenant partner is welcome at our Covenant Partner Meetings, the second Sunday of every month from 10am–12noon.
*We are grateful to Mars Hill Community Church for the influence of the Covenant Membership theory. The Covenant language on this page was adapted from a form called Membership FAQs found at www.marshill.org.