covenant membership

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

Covenant Series, Wk3 by David Flowers

Hello CMF,

I hope you're all living in awareness of the Spirit this week. You are loved and valued by God beyond comprehension!

The Pastoral Leadership Team met on Monday and discussed some of the questions and concerns about covenant membership that we received from our small groups. The feedback we received was helpful and very much appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

We thought it best to briefly address some of the questions and concerns, and give a little preview of this coming Sunday.

Why Covenant Membership?

Some of you may remember that CMF had a form of membership years ago, and was in the process of re-instituting membership with the previous pastor, but it was put on hold when he resigned. Covenant membership is now being instituted at CMF as a way of symbolically recognizing the commitment you're making, or have made, to Christ and the brothers and sisters of CMF. You're choosing to enter into a relationship with Christ and our church in order to grow and serve as a disciple, and be on mission with us for the sake of the gospel.

We believe that recognizing commitments, which always involve certain vows, expectations, boundaries, etc., is good for individuals and the entire community. A commitment to Christ and the church creates an environment that is most conducive to healthy church growth and personal discipleship. We believe that an awareness and an expression of commitment to Jesus and each other blesses us---the family of God.

Please be aware that being a covenant member does not come with any special privileges. However, we do believe that commitments offer spiritual rewards given by the Spirit. Therefore, we want to be accountable to one another and reap the benefits together.

This Sunday

As has been stated in previous sermons, via email, and through blog installments here at our new website, this Sunday we are concluding our Covenant & Commitment series with a covenant membership signing and communion. We initially intended to have those wishing to become covenant members sign both a personal card to keep and a public document, but we've decided only to do the personal commitment cards.

Everyone will be given a card as you come into the sanctuary. You will be given an opportunity to sign the card at the end of the sermon during a time of prayer and silence before taking communion. This is a response between you and the Lord. You get to keep your card as a reminder of this covenant between you, the Lord, and CMF. There will be no official record kept with the church. Again, the "signing" is between you and the Lord.

Finally, the upcoming sermon on "Covenant as Christian Discipleship" (4 of 4) will go to the heart of our call as disciples to be committed to Christ and each other as a local expression of Jesus. For the sake of the lost people around us, who are no doubt being discipled by the culture, we want to push back against the rugged individualism that is so pervasive in our society today. We want to say that we belong, believe, and behave according to the reign of Christ and his Kingdom. We believe that "belonging" through covenant membership is one way we can express that.

Please remember to read over the confession of faith and the covenant membership card before this Sunday. We ask that you prayerfully consider how God is leading you this Sunday. Do you consider CMF your church family? Do you want to commit, or recommit, yourself to Christ and our church? If so, we invite you to sign this Sunday. If not, we understand and respect your decision. Regardless, we believe that everyone is welcome at the table of our fellowship. This form of membership is meant to strengthen our faith and community, not to exclude people from it.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please email me directly at: daviddflowers@aol.com
You may reach me by phone as well (281-210-4413), or stop by the pastor's study.

NOTE: As indicated here on our website, you may become a covenant member at any time during the year. If you're not able to be present this Sunday and would like to sign a commitment card, please let me know and I can give you one. We will keep plenty on hand throughout the year.

We're looking forward to concluding the series this Sunday, and we're looking forward to our future together here at CMF.

Sincerely,
David Flowers
Lead Pastor
Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship
281-210-4413 or 540-382-8787
www.christiansburgmennonite.org

Covenant Series, Wk2 by David Flowers

Hello CMF,

What is "church" anyway? Is it really important that you're present in congregational life? We talked about this during the response time on Sunday, but I wanted to elaborate further. Listen in as I seek to help us understand the importance of distinguishing between the intimate, personal, and public spaces in the church. And why your presence in those spaces really matter.

The illustration below distinguishes between these important spaces. Where does what we do as a church fit into these spaces? And are you investing in all of these spaces as a disciple? 

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.. What is the Spirit speaking to you through this sermon series? How can we all deepen our commitment to Christ and the church?

Blessings,
David

Covenant Series, Wk1 by David Flowers

Hello CMF, 

As I mentioned yesterday during our response time, I've decided to occasionally put together a short visual addendum to follow up sermons. Please let me know if you find these helpful. 

In the following video, I briefly review and clarify biblical covenants, and respond to a question that was raised on Sunday. Also, I try to bring covenant membership at CMF into perspective.

CMF is instituting covenant membership. Pastor David offers a visual addendum to the sermon, "Covenant: A Living, Breathing Thing" (1 of 4) in the Covenant & Commitment sermon series.

See you this Sunday as we address "Covenanting with Christ & the Church" (2 of 4).

Blessings,
David