A covenant affirms what your church or cell group is and what it does. Members can write a covenant, agree to it, and even memorize it. Dick Scoggins wrote:
When a new group prepares and signs its covenant, a church is born. The covenant – call it what you may – is not a traditional, legal constitution and bylaws. It defines how members live and serve the Lord as a caring body. The emerging group deals with every detail of it. They analyze each point in Scripture and discuss it openly and prayerfully, before every member of the group agrees with it. Make sure a church in embryo understands God’s covenants in the Old and New Testaments, so they can seriously covenant together to define the kind of church they will form, and how they will relate to one another as members.
This covenant does not define doctrine or prohibit sins. It is positive, emphasizing love, forgiveness and ministry for each other. New churches should discuss the “one another” passages in the New Testament thoroughly in several sessions, while learning to work together and recognizing their new leaders. During this time, as they make decisions and explore their gift-based ministries, the weaknesses of the members and the leaders becomes apparent, which helps a group discuss, write and rewrite, their covenant as they face the reality of their struggles and progress. A home church, thus born through joyful and tearful struggle, continues as a closely-knit family community. Some groups write their agreement as poetry; others have set it to music.
Footnotes refer its points that members can discuss and practice.
We join our hearts to pledge our love 1
And thus obey our Lord above 2
Who heals, forgives, unites, uplifts 3
And helps each one to use our gifts, 4
To serve each other and be served, 5
To share the joyful news we’ve heard
With those outside this family
So they can live eternally. 6
1 We join our hearts to pledge our love. Explain covenants. Let older children tell the story of David and Jonathan who formed a covenant of lasting friendship. Let an adult tell how Israel entered into a covenant with God when they agreed to obey the Ten Commands, Exodus 20.
2 And thus obey our Lord above. Read Acts 2:37-47 and ask the group to name actions that the 3,000 converts of the first New Testament church did, in obedience to Jesus. They should find that they repented, were baptized, received the apostle’s teaching and shared it with others to win them to Christ, broke bread, had loving fellowship, gave sacrificially, prayed and other actions they may find.
3 Who heals, forgives, unites, uplifts. Discuss what Jesus does for us and praise Him for it.
4 Helps each one to use our gifts. Discuss the different Spiritual gifts and help all members to make plans to discover and use their gifts to minister to others. You might review the gifts listed in Romans 12:4-10, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Ephesians 4:11-16.
5 Serve each other and be served. Arrange to interact as a body, serving one another in love.
6 Share the joyful news we’ve heard with those outside this family so they can live eternally. Discuss your joyful duty of sharing your faith with others. Pray for folk who need Jesus.