Partnership at Oasis Church involves a commitment to worship the Lord corporately, edifying the brothers and sisters through mutual exhortation and service, cooperating in mission, and holding each other accountable to walk in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord as a witness to the truth of Christ in the world.
We believe that covenant church partnership is a wise and helpful path for those who desire to walk together in willful obedience with the Lord and in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). This becomes evident when we consider how the New Testament teaching on church government and community life relate to mutual accountability and consequently to the philosophy of covenant partnership.
The New Testament teaching about church government and church communal life would be meaningless if some form of commitment to mutual accountability in a body of believers were not expected.
The New Testament teaches that the local church has elders and overseers who have a special responsibility to equip (Ephesians 4:11-13) and care for (Acts 20:28) and teach (Titus 1:9) the partners. The New Testament teaches that the partners are to respect (1 Thessalonians 5:12) and be submissive to (Hebrews 13:17) these leaders, but not treat them as infallible (1 Timothy 5:20) or in place of Christ (Matthew 23:8-12). They are servants, not masters (Luke 22:26), and their leadership comes from a divine call to serve (Acts 20:28), not from their desire to rule.
The whole picture of called leaders, and people who affirm that leadership, assumes the existence of “church partnership” that exists in a corporate life of mutual accountability. Leadership and submission have no meaning where there is no commitment to accountability, that is, to covenant partnership.
The biblical call for a partnership of mutual accountability in a local body of believers suggests the need for believers to make a covenant with one another. This is simply implied in agreeing to help each other walk in a manner that is pleasing to The Lord. The church covenant is a written summary of the practices that we as a church agree should be the basis of its accountability. The covenant allows for freedom of conscience in areas where the Bible is not definite in its guidance. The covenant focuses on principles, especially as they relate to our community life together.
Partnership at Oasis Church is not like membership in a social club or other organization. Most organization members are consumers – the organization exists to serve them. The body of Christ is a completely different community. Partnership means ministry and serving, going from being a consumer to becoming a provider of God’s love and care to others. At Oasis, we take seriously that we are a church not for ourselves, but for others.
Partnership at Oasis Church does not mean that the church will ever be perfectly pure in this age. We sin after conversion. The church is a company of forgiven sinners who wrestle against their own remaining sinfulness everyday (Romans 3:23, 7:21, 1 John 1:8, Philippians 3:12).
Therefore church partnership does not involve an expectation to live perfectly. Rather, partnership is a commitment to worship and minister in a body of believers where the partners covenant together to hold each other accountable to pursue willful obedience to what the scripture teaches.
This pursuit of willful obedience is not the same as perfection. It will involve failure and confession on a regular basis. The mark of a true Christian, and the mark of an Oasis Church partner in good standing, is not perfection, but the persistent recognition of sin as sin, confession, and turning from it in new resolves of holiness again and again.