Covenant Series -- Conclusion / by David Flowers

Hello CMF,

We concluded our Covenant & Commitment series on Sunday with a sermon on Covenant as Christian Discipleship, a covenant signing, communion, and a potluck meal. It was a great day of worship and fellowship with the Body of Christ!

Remember, if you missed it and would like to become a covenant member, you may pick up a covenant card from our Info & Resources table in the church foyer. As we've said before, people may join our church as a covenant member throughout the year.

In the future, we will encourage new members to make their commitment public, so that we may rejoice together. It's very exciting to welcome new members this way!

In this post I wanted to wrap up our series with a brief review and some concluding thoughts.

First, here is a brief summary of the sermon series:

  • Covenant membership in the local church is how the new covenant with Christ and his disciples is expressed;
  • Believer’s baptism is the first step of obedience upon deciding to follow Jesus—marking entrance into covenant;
  • Communion (Lord’s Supper) is a renewal of the baptismal vows you made when you first decided to follow Jesus;
  • In covenant we submit ourselves to one another (accountability), but it’s the Spirit that convicts & corrects, accountability and policing are much different;
  • While we unashamedly confess the exclusivity of Christ (Jn 14:6), we covenant in grace and extend the invitation to others in love;
  • God’s faithfulness displayed in the new covenant should propel us forward in commitment to his church, a proper response to his love; 
  • Radical obedience to Christ looks like denying self, repenting of sins, walking the narrow path, and committing to journey with Christ's body, the church.

In the final message, we looked at how the culture is doing a breath-taking job of discipling people. As disciples of Christ, we must be intentional about doing a new thing in the church. It's an old (ancient) thing, really. But it should always feel fresh and new to us.

We are called to follow Jesus in community, manifesting a new humanity that is being transformed by Christ and the Kingdom. The only way to do that effectively is to: (1) have a vibrant personal walk with Jesus, (2) be intentionally present and active in the church, (3) and be committed to one another in discipleship and gospel mission.

As I've said many times, we must be intentional about this, for society and culture is always working to shape us into the collective of the world, making us disciples of it (Rom 12:1-2).

We said that we are being discipled by the culture in moving... 

From Faith to Doubt
From Love to Insecurity
From Community to Individualism
From Contributing to Consuming
From Rest to Exhaustion

I know that when we talk about mission it can seem like a beat down when we're already exhausted and not learning to rest in Christ. Even if we're busy doing good things in the church, we can be missing out on what's most important: being.

So, let's begin there.

Powerful mission begins with the being, not the doing. In other words, an identity being formed by Christ, and out of his rest, fuels real missional living (doing). If we're trying to get LIFE from the doing, we will always be running on fumes... until we finally breakdown.

There are usually a few reasons that we do this, but I'll address them in an upcoming sermon called: Sabbath, Silence & Solitude. Understanding why we're so busy is critical to stopping.

How does this relate to our series? Well, the whole point of committing to each other in the church (i.e. covenant membership) is so that we can deepen our walk with Christ, share in the healing of his growing community of disciples, and expand this Kingdom of God's reign to those who haven't entered into this rest. Sounds good, right?

But first, we must learn to rest ourselves, and do mission out of that rest.

In other words, if we're going to be a church on mission, we must first talk about what it means to cultivate a deeper relationship with Jesus and enter his rest.

Are we encountering God on a daily basis, even a weekly basis? Are we meeting him in Scripture reading and prayer? Through our relationship with Jesus, are we learning about those things in us that don't reflect him? Are we repenting of those things? And are we allowing him a chance to speak words of love, comfort, and affirmation to us?

This requires that we move from a mere head-knowledge about God, and see that we are in fact having a "personal relationship" with him---a living and intimate Spirit.

You may know him as God, but do you know him as loving Father? You may know Christ as Lord and Master, but do you know him as friend? Big difference.

I'm convinced that "radical" discipleship is rooted here. God's rest is discovered in our relationship with him, where the more we know him, and we come to know ourselves, we are being transformed by his mercy, grace, and love. Then we discover mission.

Look at it this way. Life-changing "mission" is an overflow of God's character. When we are becoming more like him (Christ), we too will overflow with mission. But this time the "mission" will result from the being, and not simply be an act of busyness.

I look forward to sharing more of what God has been laying on my heart on this topic. In the meantime, I pray that we will carry with us what we've learned through this series of commitment and prepare our hearts to look deeper into our relationship with Jesus.

Thank you for your commitment to one another, and for allowing me to be your pastor. I love you and I'm praying for you. May you be aware of his presence this week.

Grace & Peace,

David