One of my favorite movies of all time is Braveheart.
This movie is chock full of life and leadership lessons.
One of those lessons is, never charge out in battle depending on troops that aren’t really with you, as Wallace learned in the battle of Falkirk.
Our church has been running a membership class with a signed covenant for over 18 years now. However, I noticed that over time, some members began to think and behave in ways that were counter to the basic values of our church laid out in the membership class.
So, nine years ago, I began implementing an annual ritual that included a “State of the Church” sermon, which basically revisited our mission, vision, and core values, and concludes by asking our people to re-up by signing an Annual Recommit Covenant.
This has been such a healthy process for our church.
So much so, that I regularly encourage other pastors to do the same.
There are four reasons why I believe it is important to do an annual recommit covenant:
1. Vision drifts.
[Josiah] went up to the Temple of the Lord with…all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant…The king…renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul…and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. 2 Kings 23:1-3 (NLT)
In 2 Kings 23:1-3, Josiah led God’s people through one of the greatest spiritual renewals in the Bible. It was centered on two key actions. First, he read the Bible out loud to the people, which re-centered them on the foundations of their faith. Second, he recommitted himself publicly to live by those truths and then challenged the people to follow suit.
Renewal is always centered in rediscovering why we’re here and what we’re called to do.
Not only do we easily forget what we’re all about, we drift in our behaviors. I’ve discovered that whenever we begin to lose our spiritual passion, that what we need is not some new revelation, but what we need the most is to get back to the basics.
Reading and signing an annual recommit covenant helps me to analyze my present ministry behaviors in light of what’s truly important. When I do, I nearly always discover that I’ve drifted in at least one of our core values each year.
3. It helps us to see if people have fallen through the cracks.
Every church wants to do a better job of caring for their people, but no matter how hard we try, there’s always someone who quietly fades away. Tracking our annual recommit covenant has helped us to see who’s missing. The Bible says, “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds” (Proverbs 27:23, NLT)
An annual recommit covenant helps us do that.
4. It opens the door for pastoral conversations.
The Annual Recommit Covenant has become one of the greatest tools for pastoral care. People who have been wounded, are on the edge, or have been struggling in some way with the church, may be reluctant to “renew” their commitment.
This opens the door for crucial conversations.
I believe this can be one of the greatest ice breakers for incredibly healthy conversations.
One of the worst things churches do is to avoid talking frankly to people who are not on board with the church or its vision.
Allowing them to hang on endlessly is toxic – for them and for the church.
I teach my staff to “run towards funk.”
Never let that stuff linger. Funk always spreads and satan always wins.
The more we can do to revisit why we do what we do and help our people to renew, the better.
Here’s a copy of our 2018 Recommit Covenant
What are your thoughts?