A mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.
Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.
There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”
However, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.
These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.
In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.
Even in the church, our behavior is important. George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:
For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.
The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.
Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:
- One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
- Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
- Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
- Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
- A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
- Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.
George Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”
Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.
Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.
Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?
My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.
I mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.
The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.
James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).
In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.
Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter
In this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:
Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?
Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.
Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?
Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.
Barna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.
Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?
Here is the Real World the Church is facing:
American society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.
A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:
- Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
- Twenty percent had gambled.
- Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
- Twelve percent had gossiped.
- Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
- Eleven percent had lied.
- Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
- Eight percent had retaliated against someone.
One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.
For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).
According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.
“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.
“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”
- Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
- This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.
Look at Luke 6:45-49
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27
Jesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!
You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.
John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).
In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.
By the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”
WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15
The Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold
- A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
- A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE. While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live. It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
- A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
- A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT. Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii). One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.” A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives. Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
- A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline. As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.
WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?
Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from? Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3. But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man. Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel. Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well. And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”. Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again. This is what we call regenerate church membership.
In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone. No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life. Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up. It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel. And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world. Listen to God’s word on this issue. “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23). We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!
How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?
A friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem. He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.
In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.
I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.
She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.
All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.
Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.
Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.
Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.
The church is called to live and act differently. In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers. Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable. To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”
A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.
Scripture highlights our need for accountability.
- Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin. More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God. Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
- Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian. Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well. And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.
There will always be sin in the church because we all sin. What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness. The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role. It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.
What then should we expect out of a church covenant? Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture. Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private. And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.
The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.
Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.
Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.
By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.
There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.
- First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
- Second our church covenant should be a comfort.
1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part. This is serious responsibility. Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.” This challenge is a serious thing.
2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians. Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully. The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down. You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you. You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear. This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:
The Champion’s Covenant
B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:
- I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
- I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:
- To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
- To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
- To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another, being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
- To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
- To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
- To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
- To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
- To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30; to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
- To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
- To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
- To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
- To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36
If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37
1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23
3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6
4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10
6but now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27
7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10
8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25
9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20
10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3
15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8
16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13
17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17
19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1
20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18
22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17
23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21
24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4
25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19
27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20
Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”
29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9
30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19
32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31
34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25
35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16
“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22
36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11
37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14