I have been very puzzled lately. And unfortunately, when my flesh takes over, my bewilderment often devolves to frustration. See, I am really struggling at understanding why a Christian would be disinclined to signing our proposed church covenant. Not that it has to be signed—but this is what I hear, "Pastor, do we have to sign it?" This covenant is, in the simplest way of defining it, a commitment to obey the commands of God. It is not a legal document in the same sense as a contract and should not be viewed as the same type of document.
One of my favorite things about being a Christian is the community and accountability we find within in our local church. It is a great encouragement to me to know that I am not alone in following Christ. Also, it is a sobering reminder to me that others depend upon my faith just as I, in turn, depend on theirs. And this is what the corporate signing of a covenant can add to the Christian's life: a public commitment to band together as a local assembly. The unity of the believers can only be increased as we vow together to give of our resources to the church, to faithfully attend the worship services, to submit to the pastoral leadership, to pray for and mentor each other, and to actively pursue personal holiness. All of the principles that are laid out in the covenant are God-mandated commitments. As spirit led individuals, we should be eager to attach our names to this document!
In Nehemiah chapters 9 and 10 there is an incredible historical narrative of a time in Israel's history where a covenant was drawn up among the people and signed by 84 men.
This is a perfect example of how God's people could use a covenant as a means of publicly affirming God's standard for living and their pledge to live by that standard.
Have you read the covenant the pastors of BBC are recommending to the church to adopt as the new church covenant?
I emailed it to one local pastor and he responded that "it screams of excellence." We have poured over it in order to get the wording just right. Many adults in the church have provided great suggestions to get it just right. Another pastor from north Georgia also used the word "excellent" to describe it.
In order to fully demonstrate that the covenant is extremely biblical, we have provided numerous footnotes. In fact, I would say with the greatest certainty that there isn't anything in the covenant that is unbiblical.
And the idea that covenants themselves are unbiblical is certainly unfounded. Why would God sovereignly preserve the historical narrative and the record of 84 names in Nehemiah 10 if He was opposed to God's people agreeing together to be obedient?
Certainly 400 years of Baptist history stands for something. Baptist churches have been using covenants as a means of communicating the requirements for its membership for hundreds of years—why would we stop following that model today?
The adoption of a new/revised covenant should be a historical event in the life of a church. Those who are willing to sign, like the men in Nehemiah, should be given the opportunity to sign the covenant. I think BBC should display the new covenant in a prominent location with all the associated adopting signatures and for years, perhaps decades, people will be able to identify a group of believers who were wholeheartedly in favor of preserving the faith in a historical, distinctively Baptistic manner.
The purpose of the church covenant is to bring God's people into a special relationship one with another before their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the church that He gave his life for—what could possibly be wrong with that?