In the ministry project that I am facilitating, we are considering a Covenant for Missional Living…this is not a unique action for people in a journey of faith like this…it is simply our way of attempting to articulate the lifestyle agreements that will bind us together as a community as well as actions that we will promote that will underscore our Project's values. Take a peak…this is the second draft…it is a work in progress…would love your feedback!
Potential Covenant of the Faith Communities Project (www.faithcommunitiesproject.org)
Introduction by Robin J. Dugall
The Bible says clearly that each and every follower of Christ is “called of God” (Ephesians 1). Have you ever wondered, what Jesus calling us “into”? What are you, as a Christ-follower supposed to embrace? Let me assure and challenge you to consider that Jesus is not just calling us to accept a set of beliefs, believe me! Way too many who claim to be people of Jesus talk a good line…they believe the right things but they don’t LIVE THE LIFE of the Kingdom. We have mentioned in our Faith Community Project journey “orthopraxis (faithful action) is just as important, if not more important, than orthodoxy (faithful doctrine/thought)”. Jesus doesn’t call you to a set of faith statements. He rather calls you to follow Him and to live a lifestyle that has as its prime example, the life of Him who we claim to love. The following Rule or Lifestyle Covenant is an attempt at clarifying a lifestyle that provides a framework from which to actualize this goal of Kingdom Living.
The Vision of the Faith Communities Project is to build a movement of like‐minded followers of Jesus for the purpose of actualizing the Great Commission of God (Matthew 28:16ff). To accomplish this vision, we are committed to do whatever is possible to encourage full devotion, spiritual transformation, develop/deepen spiritual maturity and provide “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) among members of the Project. Another aspect of that vision is the disciple making process.
In order to be committed to disciplemaking, disciples are called by Jesus to live and incarnate the values of the Project…in other words, we can’t talk discipleship unless we are living as disciples.
This Covenant articulates a lifestyle that is meant to be voluntary and self-perpetuating. It is foundational only in that it consists of practices that a community of emerging Christ-followers choose, for themselves, to live. It is not meant to be applied in any manner that would “prove” a certain level of spirituality or give rise to pride, condemnation or division. It is purely a commitment to a missional and incarnational lifestyle through Vows and Practices. This covenant is established through the context of the mission of the Faith Community Project:
“The Vision of the Faith Communities Project is to build a movement of like-minded followers of Jesus for the purpose of actualizing the Great Commission of God (Matthew 28:16ff). The vision is to initiate as many new faith/missional communities/relationships as the possible through the leading of the Holy Spirit in partnership with the “sending” church of Friendship Celebration Lutheran Church (FCLC) and the Northwest District of the LC-MS. The Vision of this proposal is simple – Let us venture in partnership to take the Great Commission seriously in a creative manner. In a consensual partnership, let us commit to building the Kingdom of God through the intentional planting of missional communities/relationships wherever the Holy Spirit may lead.”
The Covenant calls its adherents to enter the following engagements (obligations) as a way of life:
o God-centered life
o Partake in A community of relationships which recognize “church” as being defined as the living and organic body of Christ rather than just a gathering of individuals or a physical institution.
o Live incarnationally in and for the neighborhoods, communities, campuses, networks and world culture in which they live.
o Commit oneself to spiritual formation and development
o Agree to live out of the Vows, Principles and Practices of the Project.
The Covenant of Lifestyle for the Faith Communities Project. We covenant to live out these practices:
1. Mutual Support – Participate regularly in the lives of other members of the Project for encouragement in living out the mission of the Kingdom of God.
2. Worship – Worship within the context of the fellowship of believers @ FCLC on a regular basis on Sunday mornings. As well as participate in the once a month worship celebrations specifically designed for Project members. These once a month celebrations are for the specific purpose of supporting the overall vision and mission of the Project.
3. Daily Discipline of Prayer – A lifestyle of daily Prayer.
4. Prayer Partnership – Form a relationship with a Prayer Partner. This Prayer Partner will be chosen at random on a semi-annual basis. The Prayer Partners are encouraged to pray for one another and meet at least twice during the six month period for the purpose of sharing, support and relationship development.
5. Life embedded in Culture – We embrace the challenge to live as “church” without walls, living openly amongst unbelievers and believers. In this way God in our lives can be seen, challenged or questioned. This will involve us building friendships outside our Christian circles not just with purely ulterior evangelistic motives, but because we genuinely care and love as we have been loved.
6. Pursue the “planting” of Faith Communities/Relationships – We are committed to bear and bare the light of Jesus to a dark world (1 John 2:6-11) even though we may be, at times, one little light in a dark place. We covenant together to be committed to plant Christ-honoring communities/relationships as “Gardens, not Grocery Stores”… committed to long periods of habitation, gestation in and among a chosen neighborhood, long-term relationships, and investment in our geographical place of living.
• We are committed to put down roots, take up jobs, and live in our neighborhoods. To love, live and walk with lost people in the rhythms of everyday life in order to cultivate relationships. In this way our lives will be a witness to Christ, as they incarnates His presence in and among this neighborhood of people.
• To be bearers of the gospel of salvation in Word and deed. Never with coercion, only as invitation into the life of God through Christ our Lord.
• If you choose to view the world as a place of danger to be avoided, it will become that—a lawless jungle in which we humans are trapped. If instead you choose to view the world as a garden to be tended, as a great gift given us by God, it will become what God intended it to be—a place of great beauty and happiness. Do not flee the world. Enter joyfully into its problems and possibilities.
7. With God’s help, we will be committed to Practices that give the Holy Spirit “room” to transform our lives.
• We are committed to regular practices of spiritual formation that center one's life in Christ and in His Mission.
o This includes regular Scripture reading, scriptural study, prayer, submission to God, confession of sin, repentance and reconciliation, working out one's struggles, pains and joys as part of God's work in you for His Mission.
• We dedicate ourselves to a lifetime of conversion.
o To be a Christian is to follow Christ, in every way. It is to live one’s life in such a manner that nothing is excluded. We must change. We must become radically different if we want to follow Christ, if we want to be truly alive, as he was truly alive. This is a journey that takes a lifetime.
8. Love the Church – We are part of the Church. By church we mean, the “Body of Christ” as scripturally defined:
• God has worked in and through the Church throughout history.
• We will remain active members in our church family.
• However, You are called to be different than other Christians within the church body. In that you view church as not ending Sunday morning, but rather as any time 2 or more are gathered in HIS name.
• Remember that this is only so that you can be models for others in the church congregation. Your task is not to be superior to them, but to be their servants by equipping them for their own ministries.
9. Passionately pursue your mission, and persevere in it – It has been said that “Purity of heart is to choose one thing,” and the lives of the great followers of Jesus, from Saint Paul to Mother Teresa bear this out.
• Those who have followed Christ most successfully in the past have chosen one thing – to passionately pursue the embracing of our identity as a person (or: a people) defined not by the church we attend but by the mission we live.
• Those agreeing to this covenant commit themselves to this specific identity so that their commitment could be reviewed regularly and their actions measured against it. Each follower of Jesus needs to know how God has gifted them with specific gifts and abilities for ministry and then use that God given “wiring” for the purpose of mission and ministry. God has called us to be who we are (Who He has created us to be) not who we are supposed to be (by another human’s standard). All God asks is this – “be who you are for Me and let Me take care of the rest”. We ultimately rely on the Holy Spirit to bring about all fruit of our commitment to the mission and ministry of this covenant.