Clergy Covenant Groups
in the Great Plains
Most clergy know from experience that the healthiest times in our ministry are when we have a group around us who can support us, encourage us and hold us accountable as we serve in our pastoral role. It is easy to neglect spiritual practices when they get hard and frankly, it’s just easier (at first) to “go it alone.” But, the life of a Christian is not a solitary life. Rather, it is inherently communal even though we bear individual responsibility for our own growth. The clergy excellence staff are inviting all clergy to consider starting or “re-starting” their own clergy covenant group. We are providing some new resources, guidelines and even an opportunity to apply for a grant to encourage some creativity for your group.
We define a Clergy Covenant Group in the following way:
- a definite group of three-eight clergy who meet for encouragement, support and accountability
- committed to pray for one another
- may have a written covenant
- meets regularly, though maybe not monthly
- may be a residency, local pastor mentoring group, or Transition into Ministry group
- not a network meeting, lectionary study group, or book club
Covenant Group Models
We are recommending several different models of covenant group so that you might find one that fits with your needs and relational style.
Clergy Community of Practice
- This type of covenant group is led by an identified, trained facilitator who is responsible for the content of group meetings, worship and calling the group together
- A mutual covenant is developed and agreed upon
- Group members support one another, learn together, and share resources – experiences, stories, practices, ways of addressing recurring issues and problems
- Knowledge is developed and tested through actual practice so that new skills are developed
Monthly Clergy Covenant Group
- These groups will meet regularly (at least 10 times per year), identify a facilitator (could rotate between members) and develop a written covenant
- The group meets in a space where confidentiality is maintained
- Each meeting provides support, accountability, fellowship and encouragement
- Elements of worship, devotion or spiritual disciplines occur at each meeting
- Members are encouraged to be vulnerable to one another
Wesleyan Band Meeting
- This format for a covenant group is modeled after the Wesleyan small group meeting who would “confess sin to one another in order to grow in holiness.” The intention of this group is for accountability, prayer and deeper discipleship.
- Video of Scott Kisker and Kevin Watson (coming soon)
- Here’s a historical synopsis and practice guide to starting your own band, "The Band Meeting," by Kevin M. Watson and Scott T. Kisker
- How Band Meetings originated (even before Wesley knew about them!)
View the video* above in sections: Bands with Methodism, Fully loved, Accountability through confession and Created for community.
- This format for a covenant group identifies that geography may be a barrier for your group.
- Plan to meet together two-four times in person with the agenda of “Play and pray.”
- Plan an intentional time of community together — do something fun and life-giving!
- Plan a time for each member of the group to answer the question, deeply — “How is it with your soul?”
- Create an environment in which honesty and openness are expected
- Plan to get together at the annual conference session and Orders and Fellowship to supplement some “face time” with the intent to pray for one another and “check-in”
- Commit to praying for one another regularly and potentially include a monthly video meeting in which you share prayer concerns, consider where God is at work in your life and request areas of support from one another
View the video* above in sections: How did we start, Meeting frequency, Holding each other accountable, Survival and Vulnerability.
Clergy Covenant Group Grant
The Clergy Covenant Group Grant is being made available for groups of three-eight Great Plains UMC clergy with the following intent:
- To provide incentives for existing groups to reimagine their covenant together by enhancing their current group practices
- To encourage new groups to form
- To address needs of limited financial resources that may be a barrier for some groups in meeting face to face
- To enhance the fruitfulness and health of clergypersons
Download the grant application.
* Footage is from Seedbed Publishing and was used with permission.