Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Covenant Group?
Small groups of like-minded men who meet regularly to encourage one another in their faith and pursuit of Christlikeness.
We chose the word “covenant” for several reasons. As part of a group, men make a heart commitment to the following things—
- Be available to an agreed-upon meeting time (and other times, too if the need arises)
- Pray for one another both when we meet and when apart.
- Be open about my life. This is an intentional choice to be vulnerable and give space for others to be vulnerable, as well.
- Listen and learn from the insights of others’ time in the Word.
- Affirm and encourage one another.
- Be honest about my hopes, fears, and dreams.
- Keep sensitive topics confidential.
What it comes down to is creating friendships with the purpose to deepen relationships and develop the core life skills needed to walk with God for a lifetime.
How is this different from other small groups?
The brief answer can be summed up in three (3) words: ‘curriculum’, ‘training’, and ‘care’.
The Bible as Curriculum
Instead of dependency on a curriculum written about the Bible and published for a small group study, Covenant Group normally simply uses the Bible. This stems from a conviction that men need to be reading and reflecting on the text itself. Simple reading plans are utilized that layout 5 Biblical passages to read each week is the preferred option. Of course, there are always some exceptions, and a summer focus—where meeting schedules are often modified—is an opportunity to do a ‘book read and discussion’. The goal of a Covenant Group is to help men develop a habit of reading and reflecting on Scripture.
Training in Life-giving Habits
Covenant Groups focus on training men to spend quality time with an Appointment with God (AWG). Developing the consistent habit of an AWG, coupled with a weekly Covenant Group meeting with like-minded men is a lifestyle commitment. Developing these new habits…reading, reflecting, and responding to God in prayer is one of the primary goals of Covenant Groups.
Caring for One Another
Encouraging men to care for one another is the other primary goal of Covenant Groups. This requires men to learn to listen without interrupting, have a genuine interest in ‘real-life situations in real time’, pray for one another and learn how to encourage Covenant Group members. Covenant Groups make a commitment to ‘do life together’. This implies more than most academic models where classmates might not even know or feel connected with fellow students.
How do I get involved?
There are several ways to get involved:
- You can start & lead a Covenant Group
- As a ministry leader, you integrate Covenant Groups into your ministry to men
- You can pray for the Covenant Group mission and Ministry To Men Network (We have an e-newsletter with prayer requests)
- You can partner with us financially, allowing us to make Covenant Group resources available free of charge.
- You can become a Covenant Group ‘ministry ambassador’ and help promote Covenant Groups in your area.
We are here to help. An outline of everything you might need to get started is available here: Take Action. If you have any questions that remain unanswered, or would just like to talk things through, please contact us.
We make our ministry resources on this website free and easily accessible. We do so through ministry partners who believe in the importance of men developing the habit of an appointment with God (AWG) and meeting regularly with other like-minded men in a Covenant Group. If you are interested in partnering financially, you can do so here.
No matter what, we are available to talk, pray, problem-solve, help pick a plan, or answer any other questions you may have about Covenant Groups and creating an Intentional Ministry to Men (M2M).
What can I expect in each weekly meeting?
Covenant Group is an environment in which 3 to 8 men meet regularly for perspective, encouragement, and voluntary accountability. Most men tend to live Isolated rather than connected, compartmentalized rather than integrated, and disengaged rather than engaged.
A Covenant Group creates a consistent place where men can be listened to, taken seriously, and understood.
The covenant group leader understands the group meeting consists of four essentials: Connection, Exploration, Application, and Prayer. Each one of these is a vital part of the Covenant Group experience.
1. Connection – Because we care, what do we need to know?
Each Covenant Group should begin with an open-ended question like the one above. Most men are asking the question “who knows and who really cares?” A Covenant Group create a safe environment where men can learn to relate to one another on a deeper level than news, weather, sports, or politics. Men need the opportunity to honestly discuss real and relevant issues in their life. Men need to be listened to, excepted, and respected by other men.
2. Exploration – “Because God’s word is true what are you discovering?”
The Covenant Group assumes that passivity quenches our fellowship with God. Most men learn when they are involved in the process of discovery. As Covenant Group members become comfortable reading and reflecting on scripture through their daily appointment with God (AWG), they will become comfortable answering the question above by sharing personal insights and discussing what they’re hearing from others.
3. Application – “Because God’s word is practical, what application is God wanting for your life?”
Men need more than insights, they need application. Application takes the truth of scripture and integrates them into the fabric of our life. We mature through the application of God’s Word into the fabric of our lives. God never intended spiritual truths to be kept in a ‘knowledge compartment’ of our lives. His desire is for us to integrate His Word into every aspect of life.
The Covenant Group is it environment where men are loved and excepted yet, at the same time, challenged to change. Men need a band of Brothers who will care and encourage them; they also need men who will challenge them to do what is right and celebrate when they do it.
Men need to respond to the question: What difference does this make in our lives?
4. Prayer – “Because God cares for our lives, how can we pray for one another?”
The Covenant Group includes personal prayer for and with each other. Holding up each other in prayer is a critical force for encouragement and faith filled living. When men share their needs and victories together in the context of prayer, a strong connection is built, and it turns our focus to Gods work in our lives.
Some men find it easy to pray in a small group environment. Others find this to be the most difficult part of a Covenant Group meeting, at least initially. The Covenant Group leader needs to be flexible and responsive to the backgrounds of the members. However, as the Covenant Group develops, a greater sense of honesty and transparency usually occurs. When that happens, prayer becomes less formal, more relaxed and a regular part of the covenant group.
Using a conversational style of prayer allows members to participate at their own comfort level. The Covenant Group leader needs to guard this prayer time, as it can easily become absorbed by the other parts of the covenant group.
What does the Covenant Group agreement look like?
Covenant Group Agreement
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity Psalm 133.1
With this covenant group agreement, I recognize God’s call on my life to be faithful to the new covenant He established through the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Matthew 26.27-28). I am called to love God with a whole heart, abide in His Word and encourage other men in their journey toward maturity. I recognize my need for the Holy Spirit to empower me to live in covenant with God and with my brothers in Christ.
AFFIRMATION: I commit to hold my brothers in Christ in high regard and to respect my covenant brothers as image bearers of God. Even if I disagree or disapprove of your opinions or actions, I am committed to love & seek your best interest, modeling my attitude and actions after Christ.
AVAILABILITY: I commit to make time in my schedule for the covenant group and for individual needs that may arise within our group. I commit to make my life available to listen and learn from others, complete my devotional reading and reflection plan, and be ready to share what I’ve gleaned with the group.
PRAYER: I commit to pray for my covenant brothers, both in the covenant group settings and at other times, when the need arises or as the Spirit leads.
OPENNESS & HONESTY: I commit to be open with others about my needs, struggles and concerns…as well as the joys and blessings of life. Because I believe every man needs support and encouragement in their life, I will seek to be a blessing when others open their lives to me. I will seek to ‘speak the truth in love’, providing corrective guidance with a spirit of gentleness and humility.
SENSITIVITY: I commit to be sensitive to your needs and to the needs of the group. I will seek to contribute to group discussions without dominating the time, and I will endeavor to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. If my brother is hurting, I will seek to treat him with compassion, encouragement and prayer.
CONFIDENTIALITY: I believe we need safe environments where they can be honest, vulnerable and transparent. Therefore, I will hold all personal matters shared in the group in confidence. I am committed to building a community where trust is a core value.
ACCOUNTABILITY: I believe no man is immune from weaknesses or struggles with sin. Our need for one another includes the need to share my struggles with trusted confidants who can offer prayer and encouragement. Knowing ‘forced accountability’ rarely works, I will voluntarily seek accountability partners in my life, both in the covenant group and beyond, as the Spirit leads.
I've heard the terms AWG, Check the Map, S.O.A.P., and HighQuest. How do these apply to Covenant Groups?
Great question! Consider this as a glossary of sorts for these terms:
AWG = Appointment With God (alternative: Alone With God) An Appointment With God is a spiritual habit or discipline that will equip men for a lifetime of walking with Christ. Once men learn to use it, they can adapt it to fit their quest for knowing Christ regardless of what stage they are in their spiritual maturation. An AWG is a regular, daily time when men relate with Christ through His Word and prayer. Men are accustomed to making appointments for just about everything. Appointment ensure that intentions get carried out. Making an appointment with helps us commit to a course of action. Meeting in corporate worship is no substitute for individual interaction with God. Periodic time with God is not as effective as consistent time with Him.
4 R’s = READ, RECORD, REFLECT & RESPOND—This is a simple plan that will allow an effective dialogue with Christ and promote consistency. Men can enhance and modify the plan as they gain confidence. Reading the assigned passage of Scripture is Step 1. It’s best to limit the reading to a few verses in order to have time for reflection. Step 2 is to Record (write down) the verse, statement, or even a phrase from what has been read. This helps us focus our thoughts. Step 3 is Reflection. At this step, we ponder the questions such as “what, why, how and when”. Our reflection is intended to answer the question “what does this apply to my life”. Journaling has many advantages. It helps us clarify our thoughts and formulate them concisely. Keeping a journal of our reflections become a log of our journey wth God. The Fourth Step is to Respond. It’s important to pray over what’s been read and reflected over. Writing a short 1-2 sentence prayer that expresses back to God what we’ve heard Him say to us is true spiritual communication. We also pray over issues and people who will be part of our day’s agenda. The 4 R’s are used in the HIGHQUEST series and are often used in Covenant Groups.
HighQuest = The HighQuest Discipleship Series is a discipleship training platform and pathway that integrates personal reflection on the Scripture and a small group experience. HighQuest is based on a single essential spiritual practice called an Appointment with God (men) or Meeting with God (women). Each unit in the series uses this practice as the primary means of helping men and women develop a deeper relationship with Christ by meeting him regularly in His Word, listening to what He says and then sharing that journey with a few others who are on the journey together. The Appointment with God practice involves 15-20 minutes a day and the sharing the journey with others involves 60-75 minutes weekly to meet with a few others who are committed to sharing together their lives and what they are learning from God called a HighQuest Forum or a Covenant Group, which has adapted and borrowed heavily form HighQuest materials.
Read this article to learn about the HighQuest series and it’s impact on the local church. HighQuest – The Crossing Article
Read about the HighQuest Series at their website here. HighQuest – Discipleship Series
S.O.A.P. = Another method to aid with Scripture reading and prayer (similar to the 4 R’s above), SOAP is an acrostic for SCRIPTURE, OBSERVATION, APPLICATION, AND PRAYER. With a Bible reading plan and a journal in hand, the S.O.A.P. method is S = Scripture: Write down a meaningful scripture from your reading. O = Observation: write 1-2 paragraph “Observation” about this passage. A = Application: Write a 1-2 paragraph of personal “Application” about this passage. P = Prayer: Share or pray over your devotional thoughts.