Aubrey Malphurs says that the first six months or so of starting a church is called "The Conception Stage." The conception stage begins with the genesis of the idea of birthing a church. The idea is conceived in someone’s mind. This stage will then involve several steps in order to effectively birth a church. These steps involve a church’s DNA, the genetic blueprint that guides the life and growth of all living organisms. Every church has its own fundamental DNA that guides its life and growth. The steps in the conception stage get at the very core of the identity of the new church that will affect what kind of spiritual life it will have. Every church is not the same. Each church has its own DNA specific to them. The purpose of the conception stage is to prepare for new life.
Early this year we formed a Connection Development Group to prayerfully and thoughtfully research and discuss matters related to membership. As our Connection Development group met this spring, we formed a church covenant based on seven core values. The covenant is built on the core values of the church.
So, a covenant built on core values.
A covenant is "a compact or agreement between two parties binding them mutually to undertakings on each other’s behalf" (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter Elwell, ed.).
Malphurs, in his book Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, defines core values as “a church’s constant, passionate, biblical core beliefs that drive its ministry.”
Constant – they are change-resistant
Passionate – what the church feels deeply about
Biblical – the true test of a credo or values statement
Core beliefs – they are central, shared convictions
Drive ministry – they move people to act
In our many discussions as a team, we agreed on some core things which we valued as a new church - things we wanted to become the culture of The Spring. We knew that we cared deeply about the following:
1) The four basics of the church found in Acts 2:42: Bible-teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer.
2) A family-equipping model of ministry as well as the image of the church as a family.
3) The participation in small group experiences, thus getting people assimilated into the church, connected with the body, and fostering ongoing relationships within the church.
We agreed on the need to identify clearly with a pre-written theological statement for our own theological, practical, and legal purposes. We affirm The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, adopted by The Southern Baptist Convention.
In the Bible sometimes stones were placed as spiritual markers, reminding
people of a significant act of God, commitment, or experience. At The Spring, we have identified seven stones that signify our core values. We will covenant together under the following core values:
The Stone of Character
The Stone of Prayer
The Stone of God’s Word
The Stone of Fellowship
The Stone of Worship
The Stone of Disciple-Making
The Stone of Family-Equipping