Not that long ago I talked with a potential new member of my local congregation. During our talk, it became evident that this person wants to attend worship, has a belief in God, wants to grow deeper in his/her spirituality, and is finding a spiritual home in this church. But there is no desire to enter into membership through covenant. In another conversation with someone else, that person indicated a desire to join the church because she/he likes the congregation, but there was little interest in spiritual formation or discipleship. What has happened to the idea of membership in the local church.
Covenant is such a strong biblical principle. It undergirds all that we are as descendants of Abraham and Sarah. God has covenanted to be our God and we are to be God's people. In baptism we covenant to nurture one another and hold one another in prayer. In Holy Communion we remember God's faithful covenant with us and we pledge to go into the world as Christ's body, sealed in sacrament sent in service. Somewhere along the way, however, "covenant" seems to have lost its power in our lives. Whether it's covenanting with a partner or covenanting with a congregation, we have grown "covenant-shy." What happened? And, is there anyway to address this growing condition?
Alternately, there are those who simply want to belong regardless of the "terms" of the covenant. Evidently, the specifics of the covenant don't really mean anything as long as the person gets the "card" and "belong." While I understand the pull to community and the power of friendship, there are other places to "belong." So the question remains: why would someone want to covenant with people around beliefs that are, if not meaningless, not compelling?
Or...am I the only one who notices that we appear to want to stay a bit on the fringes of relationships rather than deeply transformed by them?
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