Covenant Group Resources
CLERGY CONVENANT SEGMENT (HGP) from Great Plains UMC on Vimeo.
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
- View a sample covenant
- 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
- 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
- Positive accountability
- Acts of worship
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
**Adapted from some materials from the Indiana Conf