Monday, February 8, 2010

About the Church Covenant

Most older adults fondly remember the days of the Church Covenant. Many Baptist churches would have a large Church Covenant poster hanging on the wall, sometimes in the sanctuary. To any who got a little bored in the church service - adults and children alike could spend a little time reading that giant poster. When a church was organized, it often adopted the Church Covenant; along with a doctrinal statement like the New Hampshire Confession, and later, the Baptist Faith & Message.

A Church Covenant is a pledge, based on the Bible, that church members voluntarily make to God and one another. It deals with their moral commitments and the everyday living of their faith. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 deals with what we believe; the Church Covenant deals with how we should live.

Churches aren’t into covenants as much as they used to be and many don‘t have them or never refer to them. Some write their own covenants. A Baptist church is autonomous and not required to use or officially endorse the Church Covenant. Many have wondered whatever became of the old Church Covenant and are surprised to learn it is still available.

Many churches and individuals still use the old Church Covenant that dates back to J. Newton Brown’s The Baptist Church Manual of 1853. It is available from Broadman Supplies, and can be ordered from LifeWay Christian Resources. They print it in index card size, leaflets to paste in a church hymnal, and a large wall poster.

Some wonder if a church has to officially endorse the Church Covenant for it to be used. Well, that depends. The church can officially endorse the Church Covenant as a statement of their beliefs and practice. A pastor or church, however, can also simply present the Church Covenant as Scriptural teaching and as an example of Baptist practice.

A few may view the Church Covenant as a strict statement that must be followed. Most, however, would view this Covenant not in a dictatorial way, but as simply pointing us in the way we ought to go. It also provides a tie to the past and provides a continuity among Baptist churches.

My church uses the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and the Church Covenant as examples of who we are and what we believe. We have copies of both, stamped on the back with our church name and address, in our church foyer in a tract rack along with other Gospel tracts. We use the 2008 Baptist Hymnal by LifeWay and have the Church Covenant pasted in the inside front cover of the hymnal. These serve as quiet, but constant reminders of who we are and what we believe.

Sorry to disappoint you, but we don’t have the giant wall poster of the Church Covenant hanging in our sanctuary. But I did see it the other day in a church just across the Houston Ship Channel.

I especially like the statement of the Church Covenant against destructive drugs, intoxicating drinks, and pornography. Too often churches have fallen silent on such issues. The Church Covenant is one small way to let everyone, especially youth, know of these dangers and where we stand.

Once every year or two, a study on the Church Covenant can be helpful. Though the language may be a little dated, it is still very relevant to today. I find it interesting that the problems of the 1850s are still problems needing addressed in Baptist churches today. Times change, language changes, discoveries, knowledge, technology change. But people are still the same.

The Church Covenant has been slightly revised since 1853 to include the issues of destructive drugs and pornography. While there are many variations of covenants, this Church Covenant has been by far the most influential.

Uses for the Church Covenant1. Have postcard size copies in your church tract rack.
2. Frame a copy and hang it on a wall in a hallway or classrooms of your church.
3. Once or twice a year insert or copy it in your church worship bulletin.
4. Every year or two use it for a small group study course. This gives you a chance to deal with church ordinances, drugs, pornography, anger, bad attitudes, reconciliation, giving, evangelism, family devotions, and many practical matters.
5. Paste the Church Covenant in the inside cover of the Baptist Hymnal. Yes, many churches really do still use a hymnal; the 2008 Baptist Hymnal is outstanding. Once a year have the congregation open the hymnal and read aloud the Church Covenant.
6. Use it, along with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, as examples what your church believes.
7. Include it in a new members class or a new members packet of information.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, February 8, AD 2010.

Related Articles:
The Church Covenant is printed in full in the Gulf Coast Pastor post of February 4, AD 2010.
2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol Use in America
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
Ancient Wine and the Bible - the book
Church Covenant
Order the Church Covenant in postcard size
Order the Church Covenant hymnal insert

Many other articles in lower right margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels).


  1. David,
    I appreciate the article on the Church Covenant. Very helpful & encouraging. Keep up the good work. God bless!

  2. Brother Jim,
    Good to hear from you. I'll be praying for your family.
    David R. Brumbelow


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