Covenant Making is not always evil

Yesterday I was at All Saints [Hataitai] Church to witness and participate in a covenant signing ceremony. But before you get all excited about that word “covenant“,  I should tell you that:

1. Yes, I know all about last week’s contract/covenant controversy at Mars Hill Seattle and agree that covenants can be abused to control people and I am glad people are sharing exactly what their covenants and commitments entailed. Nothing wrong with a second opinion and the wider-church crowd wisdom.

BrianTamakiCovenantRing

2. Yes, I am aware of the personality-driven “Covenant” of Destiny Church in which some church members actually wear a covenant ring with Bishop Tamaki’s name on it! Apparently the rings cost $300 and were only offered to male members. This practice is weird, creepy and cult-like, it has been suggested, and a good reason to look elsewhere for a church that is focused on Jesus, not the pastor.

I am NOT repeat NOT talking about either case OR about the hundreds of egomaniac preachers who manipulate people’s desire for God towards building up the their own ecclesiastic capital [numbers] or financial empire [dollars]. This post has nothing to do with the Shepherding Movement, Gestapo glove-slapping, Kool-aid parties, David Koresh retro-sunglasses or setting up VIDEO TEMPLES for hand-clapping tithing zombies! It should be obvious but that Bible verse “Every eye shall see him” [Rev 1:7] is NOT talking about a YouTube strategy for your pastor’s videoed sermons.

It’s about Jesus. [Someone say ‘Amen!’]

Covenant making can be a healthy thing when done right. Yesterday was a good example. Yesterday was the day Urban Vision had its yearly covenant making. The usual suspects where present and there were also some new teams formed and sent into Auckland, Dunedin, Waikato and the Philippines. The teams and communities came up to the front one by one and signed the Covenant. Some were not able to commit to the same level this year and chose the “Companion” option. No pressure for the Companions to upgrade their commitment and those leaving were blessed and prayed for. Reminds me of the phrase “Leaver Sensitive Churches” from Alan Jamieson

This is the Covenant they signed for 2012:

“I freely choose to covenant to fully participate in God’s building of the Kingdom as part of the Order of Urban Vision. As part of this Covenant, I choose to uphold and outwork Urban Vision’s three commitments:

Deeper intimacy with Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour

Journey further with my Urban Vision community in increasing wholeness, integrity and friendships

Play my part in sharing God’s loving justice in this world, especially amongst the poor and marginalized in our neighbourhood”

Signature:                                                            date:

Justin archbishop david and bishop tom

Bishop Thomas Brown [middle] led the communion. Urban Vision Founder Justin Duckworth [right, with the dreadlocks] was waffling on about something . .  can’t quite remember what :-] but he did note that Bishop Tom, who is retiring as Bishop of Wellington in March, did “everything right” in his dealings with Urban Vision and will be sorely missed. Archbishop David Moxon [left] flew down from Auckland to witness the event and to deliver a great message. He finished off by illustrating the words of Jesus with chapter headings from Justin and Jenny’s book [Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom]:

Going Deep: Throwing out the “Next” and the “New”

Staying Faithful: Throwing out Experience seeking

Living the Dream: Throwing out Entertainment

Finding our Vocation: Throwing out Career

Trusting God: Throwing out Financial Security

Nurturing Healthy Relationships: Throwing out the Hollywood Romance

Opening our Homes: Throwing Out the Picket Fence

Peddling against the Current: Throwing out Respectability

Sidenote: Nice to see Rev. Simon Winn who is Vicar at All Saints. We met in Oxford at CMS some years ago.

So, do you have a good example of covenant making?

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

6 Comments

  • Andrew,
    For the past four years I have been a member of a group of Christians who practice and think together. We covenant together on a yearly basis. The covenant begins with the following tenant:
    I promise to accept my forgiveness for any and all neglect of the following disciplines and thereafter to renew my commitment to them.
    After that is a commitment to shared focus in our exploration and practice; A commitment to report monthly to the group on our solitary practices, struggles, and progress; to keep a daily solitary practice at least 20 minutes long; to attend a symposium meeting at least once a year; an agreement to contribute a portion of our charitable budget to maintain a travel fund to aid other members in participating in the symposium; and an agreement to share in personal paraphrasing of scripture on a monthly basis as well.
    When we do accountability on our covenant we ask people to review their actions over the last year and summarize their actions as “yes and no or no and yes.”
    This built in forgiveness and understanding that in every commitment we make there is both the affirmation and failure to live it out completely serve to keep this covenant from some of the abuses I have seen in other places.

  • I just said “AMEN!!!” Thanks for this post.
    I came to your blog from the church relevant site top 200 list. They have created a tremendous forum for finding new blogs that impact people.
    I hope my blog can be an encouragement to you also.
    I write it for encouragement and motivation daily.
    http://i-never-fail.blogspot.com
    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to watching the connections grow!

  • Every year in the Methodist Church we have a ‘Covenant Service’ where we renew our Covenant with God (actually that is a summary- it is deeper than that). Google ‘Methodist Covenant Prayer’ to find the prayer at the centre of it- it’s good and waaay challenging…

  • Finding our Vocation: Throwing out Career
    Trusting God: Throwing out Financial Security
    These are two things we are working on right now. Challenging but rewarding.

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