I serve a church in a denomination that views baptism as an entrance into what we call a covenant community. It is because of our belief in a covenant community that people of all ages may be baptized. Baptism is seen as an entry point into the community. Entrance in the covenant community is not salvation. Salvation still only can be obtained by being born again (event or process).
As I serve in local churches I am becoming more and more concerned about the state of spiritual health of our covenant community. We believe the covenant comes to us from God. It is a great privilege to be in covenant with God. Being in a covenant community means that God has made promises that God most assuredly will meet. However, being joined in covenant has its responsibilities as well. There are expectations. Most important of these expectation is that we are faithful to God.
The problem: faithfulness to God is not in fashion. In fact, I am afraid that God gets very little thought much less obedient faithfulness from the vast majority of God’s covenant community. I dare not say that I know the emotional state of the divine but I know that it breaks my heart.
In a recent discussion a friend asked me what percentage of our local covenant community was active. By active he meant that they attended our Sunday morning worship gathering on a regular basis. I had to answer that was pretty sure it was less than 15%. If we were talking about the percentage who are involved in the financial support of the church and actively involved in the mission of making disciples I believe the number would drop to less than 5% (and I am being optimist).
Human beings flourish the most when we live in well organized and active communities. This is true of us in secular as well as spiritual definitions. When a covenant community, a spiritual community, is organized and active there are the added benefits of spiritual gifts and strength to meet the challenges that come from living in an environment that is hostile to our existence. I believe the weakening of commitment to the covenant community is going to have frightening consequences in our culture in days to come. I believe that if were not for God’s prevenient grace these consequences would have already overwhelmed us.
Those of us who care about our current condition could probably name many reasons for why we believe this lack of commitment to the community has evolved, but reasons to often become excuses and excuses do nothing to change the situation. What can happen is that those who are faithful can work to make the cords that bind us even stronger. There is a reason God has created the community. We need to be sure we are ready when it becomes evident what this reason is.