The transition to a Covenant church is a complex process because state, federal and IRS regulations govern the closure of one church and the beginning of another. The Foursquare church has provided documents and charts to simplify, outline and coach a church through these processes and are available for consultation as needed.

The Purpose of the Covenant Church Option

The idea of a Covenant church has been in the heart of Foursquare leadership for many years as one option for churches to be part of the Foursquare family through something called the Foursquare Association. The concept of Covenant church was totally recast in 2016 to fulfill a longtime goal of creating new options for local Foursquare churches to own and manage real property, which is a contrast to our historical model for property ownership where title to real property has been jointly owned by all Foursquare churches via our corporate structure.

In June 2016, the Foursquare convention body adopted a bylaw revision to provide for a Covenant church to be a local Foursquare church, but with its own corporate existence. The unique feature is the existence of a written covenant agreement, voluntarily entered into by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) and the local Covenant church. In the covenant agreement, the local Covenant church pledges itself to adhere to the bylaws of ICFG and to operate fully as a local Foursquare church. In turn, ICFG pledges itself to provide the same covering and care to a local Covenant church that would be given to a Foursquare Charter church.

This new provision is an important step intended to remove barriers for existing churches that want to be part of the Foursquare family and yet maintain direct responsibility for decisions to buy, sell, improve, encumber or lease church-owned property. The setup, differences, process and other details are outlined below.

How Does a Covenant Arrangement Work?

What Are the Real Differences?

With the exception of a Covenant church maintaining its own legal existence in order to locally manage property-related decisions, there is very little difference between a Charter and Covenant church. By virtue of the Covenant agreement, the local Covenant church pledges itself to adhere to the bylaws of ICFG and to operate fully as a local Foursquare church; it is entitled to almost all of the same resources, services and privileges as a Charter church. This diagram provides a side-by-side comparison of the services and benefits provided by the denomination to Foursquare churches in each category.

What Is the Process?

The diagram below illustrates a clear pathway from Charter to Covenant status. The process begins with a consultation with the district office and concludes with nearly all the same benefits and services available to a Charter church, but with the added ability to approve property transactions at the local church level.

It should be noted that there are some significant demands on the administrative and leadership functions of a local congregation. Please be sure to fully review the FAQ document for details on costs—in dollars, personnel and time—that the legal process requires.

Click on the icons below for more details about each step of the process.
Download the Process Diagram →

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