Thursday, June 08, 2006

Church Covenant Series: Part 10 of 11

We are nearing the end of our exposition of the eleven paragraphs of the JPBC Church Membership Covenant. Paragraph ten reads:

We know that we do not stand alone and that cooperation and mutual effort are necessary among Christians. We will therefore support the church of Jesus Christ throughout the world in whatever ways God leads us.

This part of the covenant reminds us that although we are an autonomous congregation of believers who govern ourselves independently, we are also connected and accountable to the larger kingdom family throughout the world. We seek cooperation in mission and ministry and share in fellowship and encouragement with other like-minded churches.

We see this as the New Testament pattern. In Acts 11 we learn how the church in Antioch responded to the needs of the believers in Judea during a time of famine: "Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea" (v. 29). In 2 Corinthians Paul urges the church at Corinth also to take part in this offering, praising "the churches of Macedonia" for their generosity in this effort (8:1-2). In fact, Paul says, "that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints" (8:3-4). There was rich cooperation and fellowship among the early churches. This is the pattern we wish to follow.

Jefferson Park has traditionally pursued this part of the covenant through our participation in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest non-Catholic religious body in the United States. We regularly and generously contribute to the mission causes of the Southern Baptist Convention. These churches share a common confessional statement as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We have also shared fellowship with other Baptist churches in Virginia and in our local area through various associations.

Our covenant makes clear, however, that we are also free to pursue cooperation and encouragement with other evangelical churches, outside our denominational structure, as the Lord leads us.

May God continue to bless us with stirring fellowship with like-minded believers and congregations!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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