Covenant and Intern Member
Until recently only those who had committed themselves to all of the disciplines (covenant members) of the community or were preparing for that (intern members), were "members" of the Eighth Day Faith Community. More recently as we have become more and more aware of the need for greater inclusion, we have defined membership as being either a covenant/intern member or a community member, while worshipers who are not formally members are a vital part of our community.
Covenant and intern members commit to a set of core disciplines that allow us to maintain a commitment to our own spiritual journeys and to the community. Each of us is in relationship with a spiritual director (usually a member of our mission) who keeps us accountable for those disciplines and for our spiritual life in general.
We endeavor to be the spiritual guides to the community. Each of us maintains a shepherding relationship to particular community members and often act as spiritual directors.
Eighth Day “community membership” has been developed for those members of the community who are not yet ready for the traditional disciplines of the Church of the Saviour. The disciplines of a covenant member can at certain times in one’s life be simply too demanding on one’s resources (of time, money or energy) or otherwise impossible to follow.
While we still believe that the disciplines we have delineated are important for drawing us deeper into our faith and into the community, we also recognize that those same disciplines can exclude many who also take their spiritual journey seriously. Such exclusion is contradictory to our understanding of our Christian faith. The way we’ve chosen to struggle with this tension between integrity of membership and exclusion is to develop the concept of community membership for those people who want to move more deeply into a spiritual life and into the community but for whom one or more of the Eighth Day disciplines are impractical at a particular time.
Community membership is open to anyone who worships with us and for whom the membership commitment is an expression of their faith. The process for moving into community membership is straightforward: You choose a person (or, in some cases, a group or mission group) to whom you will be accountable for your spiritual disciplines and then in consultation with that person you choose those spiritual disciplines from among the covenant member disciplines that will best deepen your spiritual journey. In other words, community members choose their level of commitment, but they also choose to be held accountable to someone else for that level of commitment. (For the specifics of the process, click here.)
And then, at any time, a community member who both sees the value of all the covenant disciplines and finds them possible at that time in their life can move toward intern and then covenant membership.
More than many communities, we depend on and are enhanced by Worshiping members. We have pioneered mission after mission with the help of people who are not members. Many people have dreamed with us and cared and prayed and given. The worshiping member is a person not called to membership in this particular community with its particular understandings and structures. If one is not inwardly called and does not welcome our particular understandings and our structures, their growth is enhanced by non-membership rather than by membership.
Membership has nothing to do with being better or being more committed. It has everything to do with a special call to a particular community structured in a very unusual way and operating on assumptions often quite different from the normal assumptions of church life in America. Thus, in this kind of community there will be much coming and going. Coming and going will be normative. “Let me explore this,” many will say. “Is it right for my spirit? No, this is not where I am now.” The hope is that each of us, and the whole community, will be richer because of these explorations.
The above description of Worshiping members is modified from Gordon Cosby's description in 2009 of "non-members" which at 8th Day we instead call "Worshiping members."