Clarifying Community Through Covenants:
A Church of God Reformation Movement Perspective
Biblical covenants establish relationships where relationships do not naturally occur. Such relationships for Christian disciples draw believers into a community. Christians have been called by Jesus Christ to become and make disciples. Thus, Jesus invites individuals to enter into covenant relationship with God and with each other, as well as participate within a covenantal community called the church. Over the years, however, barriers have prevented the ideal of covenantal community from being fulfilled.
The thesis argues that a church covenant not only serves as a focal point for mutual commitment, it also clarifies a common understanding of what the church is and what Christian disciples are committed to do together. The church covenant can serve to identify the essential points of agreement, which can then serve as a positive focus for the congregation.
The thesis considers some of the developing problems contributing to a loss of "commuityness" in many Church of God (Anderson) congregations. It also traces the historical use of covenants within the Believers Church, Wesleyan, and Church of God traditions. Even though the use of covenants within the Church of God is limited, the thesis uncovers the current use of covenants within the Church of God at the national, state/regional and local congregational levels.
The project focuses on the development and implementation of a Fellowship Covenant for the First Church of God in Hickory, North Carolina. The Fellowship Covenant is designed to help congregational members live by healthy, spiritual standards and bring individuals to a greater understanding and involvement in the covenantal community called the church.