So What's a Covenant Church?
You've come into a Covenant church as a visitor. Unfamiliar, you look left and right and think, "These people seem pretty normal." Sitting through the service you watch people sing, pray, listen and respond. Yet all the while you may well be asking, "So what is this place? What's a Covenant church anyway?"
Well over a century old, the Evangelical Covenant Church is somewhat unique among denominations in the evangelical traditions in that it maintains a good deal of theological freedom in the context of a larger, conservative, biblical theology. And that isn't all. Each Covenant church is itself unique from all others. True, ours is a growing fellowship of many hundreds of churches in the U.S. and Canada. Though small as some denominations go, it nonetheless maintains a very fruitful world missions program in a number of countries around the world.
Church historian Martin E. Marty has described the Evangelical Covenant Church as "the most ecumenical, distinctively evangelical denomination in the United States." And each church in this family of faith has a character of its own.
Yet certain things could probably be said of all Covenant congregations. If you're interested in theology, we are a people who believe in the authority and truth of the Bible; in the saving grace and lordship of Jesus Christ; in the contemporary work of the Holy Spirit; in the importance of new life in Christ for all men and women, boys and girls; in Christian freedom; in the unity of all believers in Christ; in the privilege of ministering to others' needs; in the joy of bringing this good news to others.
For those not so interested in theology, a Covenant church might be characterized in the following ways. We seek to be faithful to biblical teaching, yet within biblical framework, it allows for choice in individual interpretation; we do not seek to propagate Christian faith by cloning it. The Covenant is congregational in organization, encouraging all members in local congregations to give themselves to the decision-making process-whether that be in the calling of pastors, setting ministry goals and budgets, or providing adequate facilities for ministry.
Finally, don't overlook what's in our name! The Evangelical Covenant Church asks people to live out its name-to preach, teach, and live the good news of Jesus Christ and to covenant with other believers for growth, friendship, hope, encouragement and accountability-all of which help to connect and build us up.
That, in a nutshell, is a Covenant church. You may well have come in wondering. In any case and in God's name, we say, "Welcome!"