Next month we will have a very special members’ meeting at the Evangelical Biblical Baptist Church of Colmenar Viejo. In this meeting we will be voting to approve three documents that we believe are vital for the spiritual health of the Colmenar church and for its preservation, long after our departure, as a faithful, gospel-centered church. These documents are our confession of faith, church covenant, and constitution. These documents spell out what we believe, what we do, and how we are governed.
I must admit I didn’t always consider these documents to be important. But after being involved in two church plants and growing in my understanding from the Bible of the nature of the church, I see the wisdom in having them. No, we are not commanded in Scripture to have these documents, but we are commanded to believe sound doctrine, to care for one another as church members, and to be organised in a healthy way. Please pray that God would use these documents for the furtherance of the gospel in Colmenar and beyond.
Below is a translation of the pastoral letter that I included in a booklet explaining the purpose for our essential church documents:
With the aim to glorify God and to do all things “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) I have felt the need to compile our church’s essential documents into a booklet. When we started to gather as a church on July 7, 2013 we didn’t have these documents, but now that God has given us growth the time has come to better organise ourselves. You will find three documents in this booklet: Our confession of faith, our church covenant, and our constitution. Every one of these documents is important and necessary for the preservation of sound doctrine and the proper functioning of our church according to the Word of God.
Our confession of faith is a summary of the fundamental tenets of Christianity and of Baptist distinctives. It isn’t an exhuastive list of all that we believe, but it is a list of those doctrines that you must believe in order to be a member of our church. We believe that the local church has the responsibility, as “the pillar and ground of the truth”, (1 Tim. 3:15) to preserve and defend sound doctrine. We also believe that unity in the faith promotes true Christian fellowship and drives our mission as a church. We understand that true believers can have differences over certain non-essential doctrines, but as far as our confession of faith is concerned there must be total agreement.
Our church covenant is a description of our responsibilities as members. It is a document that reminds us what it means to belong to a local church. We are responsable one to another. If our confession of faith describes what we believe, our church covenant describes what we do. We believe that the covenant helps us grow in love one to another. That is why we read it together periodically, in order to renew our mutual commitment as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our constitution is much more detailed. It describes the process for receiving new members, practicing church discipline, choosing pastors and deacons, and making important decisions for the future of our church, among other things. It isn’t a static document that cannot be edited. It’s a document that will be adapted to the needs of our church, but always in accord with Scripture.
Knowing that these documents are essential, I ask you to read them carefully and to communicate to me any questions or doubts you may have about them. My prayer is that God uses these documents to give health and spiritual strength to our church. ¡May God bless you!