What does the Covenant Church believe?In the emergent church movement, and in amongst those in bleeding-edge of Christianity in general, denominations are viewed as a problem, in that they act like a bunch of tiny little tin horn dictatorships that spend more time denouncing each other than they do spend time building the kingdom of God. In many ways, that is a valid criticism in general.
On one level, the answer is quite simple. When new members join a Covenant church, they are asked two questions about belief: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and promise to follow him as Lord?” and “Do you accept the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct?” They are then asked if they intend to live as faithful followers of Christ and members of the church and denomination.
That’s all. That is enough.
However, there are new signs of life in the old denominations, especially (and most surprisingly) the Catholic Church. It seems as if the Catholics are turning over some new pages, and are leaving behind most of the angry rhetoric and guilt-trips that categorized Catholicism for most of the 20th century.
However, there's good news on the Protestant side of the equation as well. Recently, I've just become familiar with a neat little denomination started by Swedish immigrants to America back in the late 19th century. It's known as the Evangelical Covenant Church. (Try out the very nice beta version of their site here.)
What sets this denomination apart from many of the others? They have a very strong Biblical orthodoxy, but do NOT subscribe to a particular systematic theology, like Calvinism for instance. This allows the Covenant the ability to make friends with a wide variety of churches and movements, and to try out different methods of church that other denominations might find too progressive. They are very concerned about being a relevant witness of the Gospel here in the 21st century, and are intentionally testing out different methods of bringing the Kingdom to those who don't know it.
Below is listed a sample of the some of the local Illinois churches that make up the Evangelical Covenant. I think you will find, as I did, the variety and diversity truly stunning.
Edgebrook Covenant Church
Just a nice, simply, boring little church on Chicago's north side. Actually, some of the items on their web page sound rather refreshing, especially a pastor that quotes James Taylor.
Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico
Also in Chicago's north side is a neat little Latino church ministering amongst the HUGE number of Mexican immigrants that can be found throughout Illinois. You'll need to be conversant in Spanish to navigate this site -- and make sure you have your speakers turned on!
Jesus People USA
Yes, this is a web page for the Jesus People; that wild & crazy Jesus movement of the late 60's and early 70's. In the 80's, this formerly independent, non-denominational movement decided to join-up with the Evangelical Covenant Church! The Jesus People were the prototype of the emergents, and now they've gone and joined a denomination! Is it because they've lost there vision, or because there is some benefit to belonging in a denomination (as long as it's the right one) that the emergent movement isn't quite aware of? Check out their web page and see for yourself if they have either compromised their faith, or have grown in wisdom.
Naperville Covenant Church
Just west of Chicago, in the HUGE, affluent suburb of Naperville, there is a rather cheeky little Covenant congregation who's biggest desire is to impact their little slice of the world. Make sure to read Pastor Kent's writings on the home page.
Immanuel Evangelical Covenant Church
People from 14 different ethic backgrounds worship in this neat little church in Chicago, and the pastor is a woman!
Yes, the Covenant even finds room for the expression of things that one would normally fine in regards to the emergent church. Check out their vision statement on the "about us" page. Click on "messages" to here a Sunday sermon podcast!
I've saved the best for last! Located on Chicago's West Side is one of the most progressive of all the Covenant churches. Make sure you have you speakers turned on and TURNED UP before you click on the link. I'm serious…