Several years ago, the elders of Covenant Life Church came to the conviction that it was important to teach our congregation about polity, and to have a constitution that our members could read and understand. We believed that a church constitution would help our church family understand the biblical principles that informed our church’s governance. And it would protect and serve our congregation for future generations.
We began to collect and study different church constitutions and to talk to different pastors about these issues. And we made it our goal to write a church constitution that would serve us into future generations. The writing process began in the fall of 2010.
Last summer in the midst of the challenges we were facing as a church, we informed you about this process. We have been working diligently since that time. And the process has been edifying, unifying and instructive to us as elders. And it is our hope that the next six months will be unifying, edifying and instructive for all of Covenant Life Church as we walk through this process.
Like a constitution for a nation, a church’s constitution describes the nature of a church and how it functions, providing an outline or framework for the organization of church life. We call this “polity” or “church government.” The constitution is a practical document designed to articulate how theological principles get worked out in the ongoing life of the church. The Bible does not have one structure or system outlined for church governance. That is why there are different applications of biblical principles among various evangelical churches.
Our church’s constitution defines our leadership structures, it clarifies our mission, and explains what it means to be a member. We hope and believe that this constitution will help us to remain faithful to biblical doctrine as well as help us to press forward in our life and mission together.
At the June 28 Members Meeting we presented the first draft of our church constitution. We will be hosting meetings to explain this document, to answer questions about it, and solicit your feedback.
We have described our approach to church government as “Jesus ruled, elder led and congregationally accountable.” Here are some principles that touch on a sound relationship between the congregation and its leaders and inform our governance:
It is important for you to know that we want open dialogue to be a way of life in our church. For the health of our continuing fellowship, we believe it is essential for you to know that we want you to share your thoughts and concerns with us at any time. We desire a climate in which everyone readily engages in biblical dialogue with respect and grace, even when there is disagreement.
The goal of this new constitution is the well-being of our church—its purpose is to help us preserve the unity and purity of the flock and to advance the mission of the gospel.
With that in mind, some of the ways we hope this new constitution will serve us from Scripture:
What will the process be for member input?
We look forward to teaching about and talking through these things with you.
Once we have had ample time for discussion and consideration of congregational feedback, including any proposed amendments to the draft document, the elders will agree upon a final version to present to the congregation for adoption. We will publish this online and schedule a members meeting. The following question will be put to the congregation at a members meeting scheduled a month in advance:
Do you, the members of Covenant Life Church, in submission to the rule of Jesus Christ, the leadership of the Elders of this church, and in wise and prayerful consideration of the matter set before you, affirm the adoption of the proposed Constitution of Covenant Life Church?
If the congregation affirms the proposal, our constitution will be ratified and recognized, under Scripture, as our formal governing document.
Covenant Life Church, we are very grateful for the privilege of glorifying God with you. It is our hope that this constitution process will help us to walk together with one mind, striving side-by-side, for the faith of the gospel for years to come. And we are looking forward to speaking with you about these things during the coming months.
on behalf of the Covenant Life pastors