Covenant Group Resources

Starting (Or Re-Starting) a Group:**

Starting a covenant group or restarting a group that is needing some focus may seem like a daunting task. However, we encourage that anyone (YOU!) considering the value of starting a group could begin with the following best practices.

  • Self-determined group
    • We encourage you to seek out others who may have a similar interest in meeting together regularly for encouragement, support, and accountability.
    • Select a group size of three to eight people.
    • Groups may include a combination of elders, deacons, local pastors or clergy from other denominations.
    • Variety in a group may add to its depth.
  • Write a covenant
    • Include ways for the covenant to be reviewed and updated, if necessary
  • Spend adequate time establishing a safe, trusting environment
    • Consider asking each member of the group to share his or her spiritual journey.
      • Allow plenty of time for each person to share his or her story. This may mean that it takes more than one meeting time in order to hear from everyone.
  • Get a good start by establishing spiritual practices from the beginning
    • Include time in each meeting for a devotion, communion, music, meditation, etc.
    • Keep a focus on theology and spiritual matters
  • Establish leadership responsibilities to be shared, rotated, or otherwise appointed
    • A timekeeper helps keep the meeting structured and moving forward
    • A program leader maintains the purpose of the meeting
    • A logistics person to coordinate communication and location planning
  • Tend to practical matters
    • Plan meeting times and dates — and keep them
    • Keep one another accountable for starting and ending on time
    • Put cell phones away during the duration of the meeting
    • Communicate with one another in each person’s preferred means of communication
  • Plan a day of retreat annually

Theological Foundations of a Clergy Covenant Group**

We Believe that:

  • We are created in the image of God
    • God created us to live in community with God and others
    • Incarnational living is a mirror into the Body of Christ
    • Wellness of the body, mind and soul reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Clergy are called to model Christian living
    • Spiritual practices enhance our ministry and strength the Church
    • Being in holy friendships is a continuation of our covenant commitment
    • Deepening our relationship with God is accomplished in community
  • Living as the Body of Christ is accomplished in community
    • Our Wesleyan heritage calls us to holy living in small groups
    • Within small groups, we experience the fullness of Christian life
      • Grace
      • Mercy
      • Forgiveness
      • Accountability
      • Love
      • Challenge
      • Spiritual practices
      • Life and death
    • Christian community is a glimpse and foretaste of the reign of God

Some Characteristics of a Clergy Covenant Group might include:**

  • A group of three to eight clergy who meet for encouragement, support and accountability
  • Grounded in spirituality and faith
  • Creates a safe environment for discussion, contemplation and thought
  • Creates and encourages holy friendships
  • Has elements of worship, devotion or spiritual practice in each meeting
  • Models Christian covenant and holy friendship
  • Takes seriously its commitment to one another and to the building up on f the Church
  • Encourages and challenges one another in care of the body, mind and spirit
  • Is committed to pray for one another
  • Reviews its covenant and commitment annually
  • Retreats together regularly for renewal and Sabbath time
  • Maintains spiritual practices
  • Uses its time together effectively with a focus on growing in holiness
  • May be comprised of all United Methodist clergy or be an ecumenical gathering
  • Maintains confidentiality
  • May have a written covenant
  • Is accountable to one another for being present and on time for meetings
  • Meets regularly, at least nine times a year (virtually or in person)

Some of the signs of a Healthy Covenant Group:**

  • Participants showing up — regularly and consistently
  • Equitable communication — everyone shares
  • Explicit covenant
  • Doing what we said we would do
  • Balance between challenge and affirmation
  • Sense of purpose
  • Mutual trust
  • Confidentiality
  • Laughter/tears
  • Positive accountability
  • Acts of worship
  • Trust

Some of the signs of an Unhealthy Covenant Group:

  • Trying to “fix” each other
  • Obligatory participation
  • Lack of boundaries or inappropriate boundaries
  • Domination by one or more persons regarding conversation or neediness
  • Sparse attendance
  • Negativity/victim gripe session
  • Superficiality
  • Gossip
  • Triangulation

Sample Covenant (coming soon)

 

**Adapted from some materials from the Indiana Conf