June 2017

From the Pastor's study

Over the last few months, I’ve been introducing you to some of the core beliefs, values and practices that are found in ECO. This month, let me introduce you to ECO’s understanding of church membership.

Anyone can be a member in most organizations, while participating more or less in that organization as one chooses to do so. But in ECO, membership is to be taken quite seriously. In fact, to emphasize this, ECO calls church members
“covenant partners.”

A covenant partner is a person who has made a public profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, has been received into the membership of the church, and has voluntarily submitted to the government of this church, and participates in the church’s worship and work. Covenant partners are eligible to vote in congregational meetings.” (1.0402)

What are the benefits? “Becoming a covenant partner is important not only to the congregation but even more importantly for the covenant partner, as they are positioned to receive encouragement, support, and correction that the Lord promises to those who share spiritual fellowship. In committing to the cause of a life lived in and through Jesus Christ, members grow in Christian community together to become more Christ-like. In Christian community, we realize the fullness of life together and life in Christ, and discover our unique place in a common mission and narrative of God’s work. The covenant partner and the congregation are both blessed and become a great blessing as they covenant together, intentionally, in Christ’s work.” (1.0304 emphasis added)

What are the expectations? “Each covenant partner shall strive to be faithful to Christ by participating in the congregation’s worship, fellowship, and service on an ongoing basis. Faithfulness in Christ involves each covenant partner’s dedication of time and talents for the congregation’s mission and ministry, in accordance to the gifts God has bestowed upon him or her. Faithfulness also involves stewardship of finances … along with tangible support for other ministries that advance God’s kingdom.” (1.0305)

Church leadership is also to be considered as part of this, including the commitment of the Session to “strive to create an effective disciple-making, ministry-discernment process, and equip covenant partners to be missional Christians, being faithful to nurture covenant partners into spiritual maturity and significant ministry.” (1.0305)

Space has limited my quoting everything that is said about this. But it should be clear to us that church membership – or
covenant partnership – is taken very seriously by ECO … as it should be!

On the Journey with You,
Dr. Wm. J. Maxwell, Pastor