Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Should You Sign a Church Covenant?

Is your church asking you to sign a covenant? I certainly hope not because being required to sign a covenant in your church is supported no where in scripture. As a matter of fact it is forbidden. This saddens me because my former church is now requiring those involved in ministry to sign a covenant if they want to continue to be involved in any ministry. This is a covenant between man (the church member) and man (the church leadership), not between man and God as are the covenants conducted in the bible.

Needless to say a lot of the members of this church are very upset with this, and rightly so. I thank God for that. However, many others have no idea that doing something like this is forbidden in the bible––James 5:12. As a matter of fact some people will say something like..."it's no big deal, just sign it, I did. I didn't even read it".

Contained in some of the sections of the church's covenant are things such as:



#4. "To work towards the fulfillment of the purpose and vision of the church". –– So if you do not agree with the purpose or the vision of this particular church then too bad, you must not speak out or oppose their direction since you signed this covenant stating you would not do that. What if the leadership starts teaching heretical doctrines? You signed a document agreeing to work toward their goals and vision. At that point your signed agreement with them and scripture would be in conflict.

Just what does this mean "to work towards the fulfillment of the purpose and vision of the church"? Is this something other than how the bible defines the purpose of the church? Does this church have a vision other than that of the bible? If not then why make a distinction to the purpose and vision of the church? Or, I have to wonder, does this really mean to work towards the purpose and the vision of the leaders of the church? What if the purpose and vision of the leaders of the church is not in agreement with God's purpose? Do you as a member have any recourse after having signed such an agreement if you happen to feel convicted that the church is not following God's purposes?

I guess the next obvious question is 'what is God's purpose for the church'?

#5 of the covenant states:



"To guard the peace and unity of the church".––No where in scripture does God choose unity over truth. If this were true, then God would never send anyone to hell since this would cause disunity. He maintains His standard of holiness, purity and truth over unity. If unity were His goal then Lucifer would still be in his heavenly choir singing the songs the way he wanted to and God would just have to accept it for the sake of unity. If unity were the goal, the Reformation would not have occurred. A christian in obedience to Christ will not set out to cause disunity in the body of Christ, however sometimes it is a result of defending God's truth, honor, purity of His Word and proclaiming His true gospel of repentance (Luke 12:51-53). How can a believer guarantee in the form of written oath that he will always be able to guard unity?

#5 of the covenant, the signer would also agree to:

"abstaining from gossip, lying, and unresolved conflict within the body...."––Now what does "abstaining from gossip" mean? Does that mean the members can't talk about what's going on in the church and wonder, amongst other believers, why the church leadership is doing what they're doing? Is that considered gossip? What do they mean by "...unresolved conflict within the body..."? Many churches are filled with unresolved conflict. Isn't this why we need to resolve our offense with our brother before we offer our gift to God before his alter (Matthew 5:23-24)? Doing this would prepare believers for corporate prayer where they could, as a unified body, approach the throne of God seeking mercy and grace in time of need seeking his will for the church. That looks like a pretty good picture of unity to me.

#6 of the covenant requires of the signer:



"To honor the leadership of the church through Christlike submission"

It makes one wonder why leaders of a church feel like they need to require their members in ministry to sign a document stating they will submit to the leaders. If a christian is rightly related to God, they will have a spirit of submission to biblical spiritual authority, but it will not be to a leader who is not following the Holy Spirit's lead. It will not be to a minister or a church leader who does not follow the Word of God. And it should not be to leaders who replace the leading of the Holy Spirit for man-centered pragmatic techniques and the latest trends in church-growth methodology. This is not a leader submitting to the Holy Spirit. This is a leader instead going to Egypt for help. This is a leader building a cart for the Ark because in his eyes it would be so much easier to carry.

Before you're confronted to sign a covenant ask yourself this question––Why does a christian need to make an additional commitment to another man to abstain from sin and remain obedient to God when he has already committed his whole life in submission to Jesus Christ and to sanctification by his Truth which is His Word? (John 17:17)––all this without signing any paper?

Who will give an account for your life before God on judgment day? Will your pastor who asked you to sign a covenant?

How does a signed covenant from the church leaders to the church members in ministry serve as a "guardrail for the spiritual and moral health" of the church when we have the bible as our standard for living holy? Do we need an additional set of rules and regulations added to the bible? This sounds like very dangerous stuff.

These are some questions which come to my mind when I am made aware of a church requiring it's members in ministry to sign a covenant. However, THIS ARTICLE explains how signing covenants is unbiblical and should not be done, along with some background information on the origins of this trend in churches today.

Submission to God through His Word should be our only guide.

Check out this quote from this MUST READ article:

"previously the Ten Commandments would have been taught, now they are replaced by new church laws which are subjective and potentially heretical. Previously these churches would have taught that Christ won on the cross liberty from the laws of men, and that the conscience is subject to God alone. The Reformed church used to teach that man lives by faith, and through His strength man is able to keep His commands. Now a new structure has been erected, with man-made laws, and man-directed accountability....."

"Oaths and covenants are a new form of legalism entering the church like a flood. They require more of us than Scripture requires. It is a horrible new form of bondage, accomplished in the name of a new church for the 21st century. This is a “transformation” not a “reformation.” ....This movement did not arise from God, but from the rapacious desires of evil men."







-KTO

20 Comments:

Blogger carla said...

Oh boy! You must be so sad for your former church! It's devastating to watch this happening to people you know...I pray the ones who are still there will soon have their eyes opened to the truth!

3:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew 20:26 "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave
I would love to hear their justification of this position from this verse and one simular in Mark 10
Hank

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these church leaders are doing this to hold power over the people. Let's be honest, they are copying Rick Warren. Also, in doing this (requiring a covenant) they are really saying that : "YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED". They do not trust you! But we are to fully trust them. WAKE UP! Let's read between the lines folks!

On point no. 4:
Working towards the purpose and vision of the church. What church? If UBC is talking about the entire Body of Christ, then our commitment must be to GOD, not to my local church. If it is to the local church leaders then they must have a different purpose and vision from scripture. Just them requiring you to pledge to them illustrates that they have other extra-biblical goals.

On point no. 5:
Jesus did not come to bring peace between man and man (Matt. 10:33-35). He came to bring peace between God and man (Luke 2:14). Once that is achieved, there will be peace between man and man. Peace can be found only as a result of UNITY on the biblical TRUTH. If the church leadership is wrong, then peace is not good. Peace becomes passive whimpy-ness (just go along to get along) which never leads to dealing with the error and unbiblical practices and teachings.

Also, on conflict: Some conflict is good and biblical and sometimes is the only way to which the TRUTH can be arrived.

Kenny, this nails it (as follows):
"Why does a christian need to make an additional commitment to another man to abstain from sin and remain obedient to God when he has already committed his whole life in submission to Jesus Christ and to sanctification by his Truth which is His Word?"

Who are they to stand between God and man and decide who is worthy to serve God, using their own criteria? The arrogance of it is astounding.

Also, it seems that UBC and many other churches, who claim that they are NOT "Purpose Driven" (even though they have all of the characteristics and methods of) have no problem whatsoever letting hugh numbers of very discerning members leave their church as if that is God's will. This way of thinking is insane and leaves them open to an avalanche of doctrinal and pragmatic errors. Imagine it: a church with hundreds of it's most spiritually discerning members no longer around to follow the Holy Spirit's leading in correcting the local church. Lord help us!

There's more we could say. But lastly, the leadership of University Baptist Church needs to repent of this.

In love and contention for the Faith (Jude vs. 3),

-KCO

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these church leaders are doing this to hold power over the people. Let's be honest, they are copying Rick Warren. Also, in doing this (requiring a covenant) they are really saying that : "YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED". They do not trust you! But we are to fully trust them. WAKE UP! Let's read between the lines folks!

On point no. 4:
Working towards the purpose and vision of the church. What church? If UBC is talking about the entire Body of Christ, then our commitment must be to GOD, not to my local church. If it is to the local church leaders then they must have a different purpose and vision from scripture. Just them requiring you to pledge to them illustrates that they have other extra-biblical goals.

On point no. 5:
Jesus did not come to bring peace between man and man (Matt. 10:33-35). He came to bring peace between God and man (Luke 2:14). Once that is achieved, there will be peace between man and man. Peace can be found only as a result of UNITY on the biblical TRUTH. If the church leadership is wrong, then peace is not good. Peace becomes passive whimpy-ness (just go along to get along) which never leads to dealing with the error and unbiblical practices and teachings.

Also, on conflict: Some conflict is good and biblical and sometimes is the only way to which the TRUTH can be arrived.

Kenny, this nails it (as follows):
"Why does a christian need to make an additional commitment to another man to abstain from sin and remain obedient to God when he has already committed his whole life in submission to Jesus Christ and to sanctification by his Truth which is His Word?"

Who are they to stand between God and man and decide who is worthy to serve God, using their own criteria? The arrogance of it is astounding.

Also, it seems that UBC and many other churches, who claim that they are NOT "Purpose Driven" (even though they have all of the characteristics and methods of) have no problem whatsoever letting hugh numbers of very discerning members leave their church as if that is God's will. This way of thinking is insane and leaves them open to an avalanche of doctrinal and pragmatic errors. Imagine it: a church with hundreds of it's most spiritually discerning members no longer around to follow the Holy Spirit's leading in correcting the local church. Lord help us!

There's more we could say. But lastly, the leadership of University Baptist Church needs to repent of this.

In love and contention for the Faith (Jude vs. 3),

-KCO

12:04 PM  
Blogger carla said...

"many other churches, who claim that they are NOT "Purpose Driven" (even though they have all of the characteristics and methods of) have no problem whatsoever letting hugh numbers of very discerning members leave their church as if that is God's will"

This is very true and has weighed heavily on my heart. I have seen several churches in my area do this. When a few discerning members have objected to PD methods, the leadership re-adjusts everything...they change a few things around because they are getting 'opposition', but not because they see the error. So they make up something that is exactly the same, the only difference is that the wording has been changed. For example several churches here have started new 40 day campaigns that are not from Saddleback, but here and there you get a whiff of Warren...a new paradigm here, a new terminology there...new ways of thinking, new ways of doing community...it's all cut from the same cloth no matter what they may call it. Unfortunately, many shepherds have neglected to read the label when they bought the whole roll of multi-purpose(driven) fabric...in the bottom corner in fine print this label says: Caution: Made from FLAMMABLE synthetic re-imagined re-visioned re-invented new paradigm fibres not tested by living water.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starting to look just like a cult. Control is what comes to my mind . If a Baptist church member went into a coma during the 50s or 60s and woke up today to see Southern Baptists churches doing things like this and having sermons that are being preached about working to set up the Kingdom of God by taking care of the enviroment and putting "feeding the poor" on the same level as salvation/gospel or inferring that feeding the poor is the same as leading someone to the Lord, I think he would think that the Devil took over. I fed the poor before and never saw Jesus in the eyes of the one I was giving feeding, I saw the Devil and darkness.( I'm just responding to a sermon I heard on UBC pod-cast from Keas , Oh yeah ..I heard Ray say that he now has the other half of his faith when he feeds the poor , does he really mean that there is more than Christ crucified and His resurection? I don't really know but it sure sounds like it , like works not grace alone. These are things that are being preached and the gospel/ repentence is taking a back seat. The deceiver will always roam around trying to get in and he will use any weakness to sneak in . Once he is in then it is harder to get him out.
Mike Oliver

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kenny, I forgot to say this post is STRONG !
Keep on seeking the Truth through God's Holy Word .. Yes, the Bible
M.O.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kenny,
What a great post and the article you link to is incredible. I remember us having to sign an agreement when we taught at our old church, and like many didn't really care because the desire to obey God's call to serve the youth was greater than any man made paper. That was only the beginning because after that the strict rules and demands for service seemed to supercede my God given role as wife and mother in caring for my family in order to serve. What's the old saying hindsight is 20/20.I feel almost sorry for the pastor's of these churches where they have to hold a piece of paper over the heads of their robot servants. I do remember a time in service where the Holy Spirit lead and GOd provided the workers. I pray these pastors will wake up feed their sheep, step back and enjoy the movement of the HOly Spirit and not the movement of man. They will be forever in bondage until they do. There is true freedom in service to the ONe True God, and Joy to be found abundantly. Rise up sleepy and comfortable church members, read the dotted line and choose to obey God and not man.
Blessings,
Shirley O.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Excellent points.

But how about guidelines for teachers? There is a false teacher in my church (a retired pastor who is very liberal, doesn't believe Jesus is the only way, denies the authority of scripture, etc.). This guy should not be teaching, but we don't have a doctrinal litmus test in the Methodist church. This makes it harder to stop him.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous dPazos said...

Wow! You are coming done hard on the latest heresies. I saw a copy of such a contract from some church. It appears politicized, like sign on to whatever this church says or does, go along with the personality of its leaders, let them decide on Bible Study curriculum. It is the stuff of dictatorships. No dictator can seize power if each person can think for himself. They use such manipulation to push people around. It sounds like the United Nations trying to get W to sign onto its 'goals'. Often the main goal is for those in power to simply hang on to their jobs and positions! DA!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous dPazos said...

Wow! You are coming done hard on the latest heresies. I saw a copy of such a contract from some church. It appears politicized, like sign on to whatever this church says or does, go along with the personality of its leaders, let them decide on Bible Study curriculum. It is the stuff of dictatorships. No dictator can seize power if each person can think for himself. They use such manipulation to push people around. It sounds like the United Nations trying to get W to sign onto its 'goals'. Often the main goal is for those in power to simply hang on to their jobs and positions! DA!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds a little like the doctrines found in Roman Catholicism

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read most of your linked expose of the emergent church by the Illinois pastor and it's very instructive. I imagine this issue colors the way you look at things. However, to be fair, if you were to attend a good, sound conservative Bible college or seminary (as I have), you would be expected to sign something similar to what you have posted here. My college emphasized that its students should comply CHEERFULLY with the house rules and agree to its statement of faith ~ and seminaries do the same. It's not that they do not tolerate a different opinion so much as it is a safeguard against revolt and wrong doctrine.

Think about it: why would you want to serve with people with whom you disagree? I am assuming, of course, that the parties are in accord as to the basic tenets of the faith. Someone please show me in the New Testament where signing an agreement obliterates the work of the Holy Spirit.

Seondly, and again to be fair and level-headed with the Scriptures, God has a lot to say about gossips in the churches (I Tim. 5:13, 2 Cor. 12:20). Too much of that goes on under the guise of "concern" for what's going on; people who are truly concerned need to do what has already been suggested here, and go to the brother, then take witnesses/elders, then go to the church about serious issues. If a church wants to cut gossip that undermines the ministry, good for them .... signing a contract is not going to stop anybody from talking. But it may remind those who serve that when they have complaints or disagreements, they should go through proper channels.

(to be continued ...)

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(...continued)

And third, Paul was really BIG on unity (Phil. 1:27) .... and so was Jesus (see John 16 and 17). Now, they did not preach unity at the expense of truth, of course: Paul even confronted Peter when the latter was giving the appearance of compromise and was dragging others with him (see Gal. 1 and 2 for background). Nevertheless, it is God's design for us as believers, and particularly those who serve in a prominent or public role, that we model the unity that Jesus commanded and was so keen about ~ that is one of the marks of the Christian, his/her love for other believers.

So ... if this covenant reflects a "hidden agenda" of a group or church that is gone astray doctrinally, I can understand your concern; I'd be worried too. Usually the doctrine is the first to go off the reservation, then the methods follow.

But at face value, it looks harmless enough and no different than what you'd be facing in some other Christian organization. And frankly, I don't like using the word "covenant," a theological term, for something like this; it sounds too .... sanctimonious ~ but that's just my opinion. In business, contracts (and covenants) are far more serious and restrictive than this one, and we don't think twice about signing them.

Then again, if this is a "former" church you attended, you don't have anything to worry about because you're no longer there, and this whole discussion is moot, isn't it? Perhaps the best thing you can do is to fast AND pray for the brethren there.

Thanks for allowing my $0.05 worth of posting.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous SJE said...

This is not new! Bill White, David Wideman and senior leaders have decided to go out of the scripture to the liberal left field. Even the local Baptist Association already knew about it long ago. Bill White opposed the Miami Baptist Association when they were trying to campaign against guy rights in 2002. I think it's time to campaign, send emails, publish newspaper articles, and guide those who still have their eyes closed to the realities of UBC. Even though my son is still going to UBC because he was under the spiritual coverage of Joe and Mike, that's no longer the case...He is already old enough to confront non-scriptural base churches and oppose the liberals' agenda. "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:14-16, Acts 16:31 SJE. kirios1@yahoo.com

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sje,
It is good to hear from you. We don't always hear from people who have attenned UBC or ones who still go to UBC . We still pray for the church and think of them often. It is a reality that UBC and other churches have committed themselves to liberal doctrines and falsehoods. It is hard to think that leaders of a church would turn their back on the Truth ... the Word of God and try to join themselves with the world .
The truth is that they are . I still beleive that prayer is where the real battle is . Confronting the people and the worldy garbage that has found its home in the churches of today has to be done.
Evil will pervail when good men do nothing.
The battle is fought on many fronts.
Mike Oliver

1:41 PM  
Blogger TBO said...

This was given to me the other day…

1. I have observed the lowering of the standards of holiness from the pulpit to the pew. It appears we are seeking to develop happy churches, but not holy churches. One pastor stated that he wanted his people to leave the Sunday morning worship feeling, "affirmed, approved and applauded". Whatever happened to leaving feeling confronted, convicted, confessed, and cleansed? Spurgeon put it in perspective years ago when he said, "Of all the grief’s the church ever feels, the keenest is when those who once stood in her midst dishonor the name of Christ by unholy living."
2. I have observed the seductive fashions of the world being worn in the worship centers of our churches. Teenage girls and sometimes their mothers wear clothes to church they could neither wear to school nor in the workplace. The same applies to the male gender. We have developed such a laxity in our attire the result has numbed the spiritual senses of being in the presence of Deity. I am fully aware that God looks on the heart, but clothing or the lack thereof, should not distract from looking into His face.
3. I have observed more and more churches having fewer and fewer revivals. Of course the rural church will always hold a revival, whether they actually have one or not, the third week of August. Vance Havner once said, "Preachers speak of 'holding revivals'. Somebody ought to turn one loose!" Real revival which takes prayer and preparation and sees scores ushered into the Kingdom and church members rekindling the fire within is quickly giving way to one day events. We have stopped singing "Take Time To Be Holy", because we don't have the time.
4. I have observed more and more churches decreasing from mortification rather than increasing due to salvation. There is more life outside in most church cemeteries than inside on the pews. At least in the cemeteries the grass grows and the flowers bloom. If there is not a revival in our land many of our rural churches will become bed and breakfast inns and our larger churches will be turned into antique malls. If you don't believe this, visit Great Britain.
5. I have observed more and more churches growing by transferring letters rather than transforming lives. It doesn't take a genius to build a church numerically. Given the right staff and programs you can fill a church. However, there is an eternal difference between filling a church with people and filling the people inside the church.
6. I have observed more and more pastors and evangelists preaching someone else's sermons rather than studying and preaching their own. The call to preach has been replaced with the desire to succeed. Being an expounder of the Word requires time alone with God. Being a mouth for God to the people of God is an awesome responsibility. Preaching someone else's anointed sermon doesn't guarantee your anointment. If the sermon isn't gathered and set ablaze in the pastor's heart it will unlikely spread to the hearts of the church members Some of the greatest proclaimers of the Good News are seldom heard because they neither pastor a mega church nor are the featured speakers on Christian cruises.
7. I have observed unethical and even immoral conduct by religious leaders with little or no remorse on their part once their deeds were made public. The graveyard of compromise is filled with those who listened to the sirens of the world. Accountability and integrity were sacrificed for personal gain and puffed up egos. When Christian leaders become legends in their own minds the ice has already broken.
8. I have observed the policies of the community dictating the polices of the church, especially in the area of sports. We now schedule the events of the church around the athletic calendar of our schools or recreational departments. We have surrendered to the god of sports. Many of our parents allow their children to play their favorite sport on Sunday morning with the rationale, "What can we do about it?" These same parents wouldn't allow their children to skip school for a church event. We even close our churches on Sunday nights if it is a national holiday. Good thing God doesn't cancel His services.
9. I have observed more and more churches teaching the latest trends in church growth rather than the doctrines of the Scriptures. We have churches full of people who can quote from the latest church growth guru, but for the life of them, they can neither recall nor defend any of the doctrines of the Bible. We can be seeker friendly and purpose driven, but if we fail to seek Christ and find our purpose in Him alone, all the books, seminars, and mega conferences will only impede the salvation of the lost and the disciplining of the saved.
10. I have observed us becoming a people who enjoy the expression of worship without encountering the experience of worship. No one enjoys beautiful choruses more than me, yet with the freedom of style which this has ushered into our churches we must be careful not to allow our performance to overshadow His presence. Celebration without commitment leads to worthless worship.
11. I have observed religion becoming big business. Christian recording artists are now referred to as superstars and certain pastors are touted as religious CEO's. Religious leaders have evolved from troublers of society to trend setters in society. We have religious personalities who are known as much for their political creeds as their theological convictions. Simple statements from the Bible are marketed into multimillion dollar enterprises. An executive in a Christian publication company once told me, "It's all about the buck." You half expect to see certain religious organizations listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
12. I have observed a few proclaimers who have comprised their call because of a cowardly commitment to the truths of God's Word. This brings about a deceitful delivery of devilish doctrines. The end result is a man who panders to the people and prostitutes the proclamation in the process. When wickedness enters the doors of the church it soon spreads throughout the land without any opposition. Satan himself could not have better allies than pastors who refuse to preach the truths of the Scriptures and church members who refuse to live godly lives.
13. I have observed a righteous remnant in every church who hunger and thirst for experiencing God to the fullest. It is this group, both young and old, who will pass on the teachings and doctrines of Holy Scripture to the next generation. Praise God for ministers and members who are not driven by fashions and trends, but remain faithful and true to fulfilling the Great Commission.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous dpazos said...

Yes, I also have observed many of these same negative trends, although perhaps not all of them.
The postmodern emphasis on community and equality have caused damage for us. It appears American churchianity is now sensitive to sports and similar events. The secular fashions and sense of community seems to set the pace for much of Churchianity in recent years. Hopefully, this is only a passing trend. We do not want our churches to become museums or antiquarian monuments as in Britain. Perhaps Holland would be even worse in that sense.
The points made were excellent. Those types of organizations are not seeking God, but their own advancement and prosperity using human techniques.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In it something is also idea good, agree with you.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like to me a system is being established just like the one the Lord said would be established before His coming . . . One in which they will cast you out of their synagogues thinking they are doing God a favor. It's hard to believe so many are so deluded to follow men with all their hearts. We need a revival

7:23 PM  

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