Does your church have a church covenant? Have you ever wondered where the concept of the church covenant comes from? Is it biblical? I have wondered that myself, and so this last semester I did a research paper on church covenants (which has been posted on my resource page if you would like to read it :)). When I started my research I was not convinced that church covenants were biblical. I thought that they were permissible, but not something that could be found in Scripture. But after doing the research, I have come to view church covenants as a formalization of something that is necessary for a church to be a church, namely, intentionality. That is to say, a group of people cannot be said to be a church unless they (among other things) intend to be one.
It is this mutual agreement to be a church that is at the heart of the concept of the church covenant. While I understand that the churches in the New Testament did not write up covenant documents, they did understand themselves to be churches. As with church membership, this understanding appears to be more spontaneous and informal in the New Testament, as it might be today in more high-persecution contexts. In the more affluent West, where Christianity has traditionally thrived, it may be more helpful to formalize a church’s understanding of what it means to be a church through the use of a written covenant. This may be a helpful part of a church’s strategy to guard against nominal Christianity in low-persecution contexts.