What is a “Covenant Church” and what does it believe?
When one becomes a member of a Covenant Church, you are asked just two questions about your faith: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and promise to follow him as Lord?” and “Do you accept the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct?” That’s it.
But on another level, of course, these answers are a bit more complex. While the Covenant Church does not require adherence to any written creed, we take our theology seriously, and our history as well. The early Covenanters (who called themselves “Mission Friends”) had two questions that shaped their life and ministry together: “Where is it written?” and “How goes your walk with Christ?” The Covenant Church was founded as a group of people who cared deeply about the new life found in Christ and believed that scripture is essential to that new life.
More recently we’ve come to describe our selves with the four “-Als”. We are Biblical, Devotional, Missional, and Connectional. This is our way of saying what the ancient church articulated in the creeds: The Church is apostolic, holy, catholic (not “Roman Catholic”, but universal), and one.
We are an Apostolic Church in that we trace our faith back to the apostles, to the good news of Jesus Christ passed on from them in scripture, through the ages, to us. We are a Universal church in that we share faith with believers in all times and all places who confess Jesus as Lord. Because of this we have an “open table” at communion where all who trust Christ are welcome to partake, and similarly we honor both interpretations of Christian baptism: infant and adult. We are a Reformation church who has inherited a theology of the Protestant Reformation, particularly the emphasis on scripture’s primacy and salvation by grace through faith. We are an Evangelical church that was born in the pietist revival movements in 19th century Europe and great awakening movements in America, emphasizing personal faith and inner spiritual transformation.
The Evangelical Covenant Church is a unique movement of believers and congregations who understand themselves to be Evangelical, but not exclusive; Biblical, but not doctrinaire; Traditional, but not rigid; Congregational, but not independent. We like to “major in the majors”. Unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and in all things–love.
For Covenant people, our essential beliefs are summed up in what we call Covenant Affirmations:
- We affirm the centrality of the word of God.
- We affirm the necessity of the new birth.
- We affirm a commitment to the whole mission of the church.
- We affirm the church as a fellowship of believers.
- We affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit.
- We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ.
You can learn more about the Covenant Affirmations here.