Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” – Philippians 1:27
Four times a year, we affirm our commitment to one another in the form of the Covenant of Discipleship. This is not just something that new members say to join the church. This is a covenant that we affirm through the year, and welcome new people as they make the same covenant when they join the church.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to write short explanations of the Covenant of Discipleship so we can remind ourselves of what exactly we are committing to do. This week we will focus on the opening lines:
“Upon this basis, therefore, we covenant together as members of New Life in Christ Church.”
What is a covenant anyway? A covenant is a solemn promise people make with one another, in the presence of God, committing themselves to a relationship and to do what it takes to preserve that relationship. It is different from a contract in many ways, namely that the covenant primarily focuses on the relationship between two people and the covenant grows out of the Christian values of the individual. The covenant is not simply saying that a certain obligation will be met (as in a contact, violation of the contract often simply requires a fine), it is an affirmation of a deep personal commitment to the relationship.
When we take this covenant, in a very real sense, we become a family together. We are part of the family of God. We make a promise to a local body of believers. Membership commitments like our Covenant of Discipleship are made to local churches. If you look through the Bible, church membership is local. For example, we read in 1 Corinthians 1:2,”To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…” The church was in the city of Corinth, it was a local church. Membership in God’s Church (capital C) takes place through our membership in a local church (little c). That is the way he has set it up.
Notice when we take the Covenant (ie. make the promise), we commit ourselves to a pattern of discipleship. In other words, it is a promise to walk together as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a promise to help one another act as disciples. It is a promise that we will take personal responsibility for our own discipleship, on behalf of others. It is a promise that we will carry one another’s burdens as they seek to be faithful to Jesus Christ.
As an aside, what does discipleship to Jesus look like? Jesus tells us what it looks like in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). Don’t forget our challenge for October-November … memorize the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Simply by doing this little thing we will be better prepared to live as disciples. Don’t leave aside this important practice!
As those who have taken the Covenant of Discipleship, we believe that we find true blessing in Jesus Christ. We find abundant life by being his disciples. So we aim to be disciples together. It’s what we are here to do. We’ve promised to help one another to achieve that goal.
The introduction to the Covenant of Discipleship reminds us that we have made a promise to live as disciples of Jesus. When we look around the church every Sunday, people with whom we have made a promise surround us. We will flesh what that promise means on a practical level over the next few weeks, but today, think about this: Do I think about the people in my church as people I have made a promise to? Or are these disposable relationships of people that are here to serve me? The way we answer those questions will affect the practical decisions we make about our church, our fulfillment of our promises, and the joy we experience in our relationships together.
Events and Announcements
Plan to come to our Reformation Service on Sunday night! This year we are worshipping at New City Fellowship (200 Prince Edward St., Fred. VA 22401) with New City Fellowship, Evident Grace Fellowship, and Hope of Christ Church. This is a highlight each year. Pastor Doug is preaching this year. The evening will conclude with a reception. Because of the Reformation Service we will not be having Youth Groups or Prayer tonight.
Several Afghan immigrants we have been ministering to are looking for work. None are believers yet, but they are at various places in their journeys toward Christ — and would benefit from more contact with Christians. Other variables are their English language abilities, skills, number of hours and pay needed, gender, age, etc. Please contact Debra Smith to learn more.
Women’s Retreat – I’ll be praying for our nearly 40 women attending the retreat this weekend. Will you join me in praying for them and for Marcia Vastine as she teaches at the retreat? We are so thankful for all the women who make a retreat like this possible. Good job to all those dads who are willing to take the kids for the weekend! [Pray for us! 🙂 ]
Old Rag Hike
- Time/Date: Meet at NLIC at 0745, return around 1600 (4pm) on 25 October
- Cost: $5/person (pays for parking/park entrance)
- What to bring: comfortable hiking clothing (temps may be a little cooler), Good hiking shoes (NO FLIP FLOPS!), lunch, plenty of water
NLIC Baseball Pitching Camp at 2 PM – Contact Christopher Dale with questions.
- Children’s and Adult Sunday School Classes – 9 AM
- Worship Service – 10 AM –Pastor Doug continues to lead us through our study of Matthew.
- Evening Service – 6 PM – Reformation Service at New City Fellowship (see above).
- NO Youth Discipleship Groups– We do not have youth discipleship groups as we will be meeting for a Reformation Service at New City Fellowship.
- NO Elder-led Prayer Time – We do not have prayer time tonight as we will be meeting for a Reformation Service at New City Fellowship