We view Covenant Membership as a commitment between Christians to care for one another, do life together, and unite under a particular church leadership. In our Covenant Membership course, we spend one whole session considering 8 expectations that we have for our members. This is part one in an eight part series that will look at each of these expectations individually. Click here for more information on what we believe about Covenant Membership.
I will prioritize gathering for worship with the corporate body of Restore.
Covenant membership is about "doing life together". It's more than just showing up in the same building together on a Sunday; it's about a commitment to live with one another, share one another's concerns, and gather around the teaching of the Bible that guides our lives. Yet it's in that normal, regular gathering of the church community that this counter-cultural approach to life is most clearly seen. In those regular gatherings, the church, made up of many different people from many different walks of life, gathers together around their common savior and the common Word. The author of Hebrews makes clear that we ought not to "give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing." The fact is that something is lost when the corporate gathering loses it's significance in the life of the believer or in the life of the church.
There are both practical and spiritual reasons for calling covenant members to commit to prioritize the worship gathering at Restore. The first reason that we believe Covenant Members should prioritize the weekly gathering is because we believe that it is an essential component of the Christian life. Or at least it should be.
Every week we make an attempt to go out into the world and live as Christ has called us to live, and every week, we fall short. Sometimes, we are doing our best and we feel persecuted in some fashion. Most times, we want to do our best but our sin, or our laziness, or our apathy, or negligence, prevents us from doing what we really want to do. We come into the weekly gathering, if we are honest, as people who are wounded, broken, and totally aware of our own shortcomings. David said it best when he said of God that he longed for him like a deer pants for water. That's how we ought to come into the weekly gathering. Like a parched deer on the brink of exhaustion, looking for the waters of life.
When Restore gathers together, it isn't out of spiritual obligation. It's out of spiritual necessity. We need to be reminded of the good news of Jesus, first and foremost, that Jesus chases us down and saves us precisely because we do fall short. His grace is what saves us and sets us free from feelings of failure or guilt or shame. We are not condemned. Instead, we are infused with fresh life. And this reminder is not just theoretical; it's not just the sermon we need. It's the tangible experience of being with our brothers and sisters who, like us, have fallen short too. And yet, in our common experience we love one another with an unconditional type of love; we see our family and say to one another, "I'm glad you're here, just as you are." The Christian life lived well is a life that is constantly in need of the reminders of grace.
But it's not just us that needs that reminder of grace. It's our neighbors, as well. And that's the second reason we require this commitment of Covenant Members.
When the corporate body is gathered together, there is life. When half of the body is gone, that life feels muted. Practically speaking, there is an obvious difference when the church is full verses when it is half-full.
More importantly, however, our dedication to gathering with the corporate body of believers, around the message of the Gospel, in love for one another, demonstrates the love and unity of Christ like no other event. Our neighbors don't just see "religious people"; they see people in need of God's grace, in love with Jesus, and united with one another. They see the body of Christ in action, gathering around our savior. Instead of thinking to themselves that the mark of the Christian is "religious devotion", the hope is that they'll see that the mark of the Christian is living in the freedom of the grace of God towards us in Jesus Christ. The difference between those two is astounding.
We aren't looking for spiritual juggernauts. We're looking for people who need Jesus, and need each other. That's why we prioritize gathering with the corporate body.