The New Testament speaks of the Church in two ways. First, the Church is made up of all believers, past and present. Second, it is a local congregation of followers of Jesus. Each local congregation is unified with the Church (capitol C) in its commitment to the sound teaching about Christ, and it is also diverse in its application of those teachings in the daily life of the church. For this reason, it is important to “covenant” or make a promised agreement with one another on what we can expect from our community of believers and our leadership. There are a few reasons for a covenant.
The Church itself is a covenantal community because it is created through the new covenant that Jesus instituted during the last supper with the disciples (Mt. 26:26-29, Lk. 22:14-20).
Every overseer or pastor of a church is entrusted with the responsibility to “shepherd the flock” and “exercise oversight” (1 Pet. 5:2).
Suppose you chaperone a class trip to a theme park. You are responsible for the kids in that class but you are not responsible for every kid who is in the park that day. So, you make sure the kids under your supervision understand your expectations of how they act in the park, what time to meet you back, etc. It’s also important that the kids under your supervision know what they can expect from you; that you will be a responsible adult and get them here and there safely.
Covenant membership works in a similar way. Church covenants create a sense of unity and community by reminding one another what we’ve signed up for. Covenants clarify what membership is and they also provide voluntary acceptance for accountability and church discipline in the case of ongoing, unrepentant sin.
Desiring to walk in faithful allegiance to King Jesus, who is supreme over all, and guided by the inerrant, Holy Scriptures, which are authoritative in the life of every Christ follower, the members of Forest Ridge Baptist Church covenant with one another to gather weekly in corporate worship, grow with one another in gospel community through weekly community groups and bible studies, and go on mission with Jesus by testifying to the gospel with our words and actions in everyday life.
The Church is a confessional community built upon the confession of the truth of the gospel (Mt. 16:17-18). Confessing and believing the truth of Christ is necessary for entrance into the kingdom (Acts 2:37-41). Therefore a person must believe and confess the truth of the gospel in order to be brought into membership.
Baptism by immersion is the prescriptive form of confession for a new believer in the New Testament. Baptism does not save us. It is an outward confession of an inward reality. All believers are called to follow the Lord Jesus in baptism and will need to be baptized before they can be brought into membership.