Why Covenant Groups?
This ministry seeks to create a movement of men committed to walking alongside one another as Christ followers, become encouragers and friends, and grow stronger through the reading of Scripture and prayer.
How to Start a Covenant Group
You first need to grasp what a Covenant Group is and what it’s not. Having a clear vision is critical to you and to those you recruit. With this in mind, if you feel ready to lead, continue to step two.
A Covenant Group is a true commitment. So, we have found another study plan created by BetterMan that can provide a segue to a true Covenant Group. Select what works for you depending on the needs of your group.
Just as the big game is planned for an Autumn Saturday with a noon kickoff, the first Covenant Group meeting is a kick-off event. Come ready to get acquainted, look over the agreement, confirm a reading plan, and pray.
Catch the Vision
You first need to grasp what a Covenant Group is and what it’s not. Having a clear vision is critical to you and to those you recruit.
This is not a place where men read a curriculum and come together to discuss it or passively listen while someone else teaches. The curriculum of a Covenant Group is the Bible. Each man in a is asked to develop the habit of an AWG (Appointment With God) and come to the meeting with something to share from his times of reading & reflection.
Vulnerability, honesty, commitment, and prayer are all important to build true community with likeminded men after Christ. With this in mind, if you feel ready to lead, continue to step two.
Let's first clarify what a Covenant Group is not...
1. Covenant Group meetings are not a substitute for counseling, therapy, or recovery for life controlling issues.
Many of us struggle with life controlling issues—problems that seriously hinder spiritual maturation such as compulsive sin habits, addictions, or depression. Covenant Group participation is not intended to be a substitute for other professional or pastoral care. Covenant Groups are designed to provide prayer support but are not designed to deal with life controlling issues in a way that distracts or dominates group discussions.
2. Covenant Groups are not intended as a forum to discuss the shortcomings of others.
It’s easy for a covenant group to slip into a negative vibe by sharing our disappointments with a political party, a co-worker, or a family member. In short, healthy covenant groups keep conversations about others positive. If a burden needs to be shared, it can be lifted in prayer.
3. Covenant group discussions are not for ‘other agendas’ unrelated to the focus.
The focus of a covenant group is God’s Word, prayer, mutual encouragement, listening, respect, and positivity.
So 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.
Confirm your readiness.
Covenant Group leaders are called to equip (train) men to develop spiritual habits—primarily reading and reflecting on Scripture, meeting with other men to share their lives with authenticity, and to care for one another through prayer and encouragement. The role of the covenant group leader is not to the Bible study teacher. Instead, ‘facilitator’ is an apt description of the covenant group leader. The Covenant Group leader’s primary role is to set an example, care for his covenant group members, and ask 4 questions to ‘lead’ the group:
1. Because we care, what do we need to know about what’s going on in your life?
2. Because God’s Word is true, what have you been gleaning?
3. Because God’s Word is practical, what applications can you make in your life? and
4. Because we know God cares, how can we pray for one another?
This model, unlike others, is designed to help men grow in intimacy with God and genuine friendship with one another. Now… ask yourself if you want to lead a group. Count the cost: it will require focus, commitment, and perseverance. Make sure you understand the role of the Covenant Group leader.
We encourage every prospective leader to read through the leader resources carefully. As well, feel free to contact someone on our team to discuss best practices. It’s not rocket science, but it does require vision, a commitment to be an encourager, and some basic small group facilitation skills.
It’s the Covenant Group (CG) leader’s responsibility to share the CG vision with a group of men, and invite these men on a journey of spiritual growth.
Some men will ‘get it’ right away; others will find the Covenant Group a completely new concept.
Recruiting men into a Covenant Group (CG) involves:
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1. Asking Questions
One of the best ways to recruit is to ask questions. Here are two great questions:
“Do you have a Bible reading plan you use on a consistent basis?” This is a good place to start. If the answer to either of these is “no” or “not really”…the next step is to share the vision for a Covenant Group.
2. Sharing the CG Vision
Think in terms of an ‘elevator speech’ here–points you can use to spark interest in covenant groups as a lifestyle designed to help me grow spiritually. Be memorable and succinct. Here are a few points you can draw from:
- Most men live lives of quiet desperation (Thoreau’s famous quote paraphrased), yet Jesus promised life in abundance.
- Too many men are living in a ‘manhood fog’ because they aren’t walking with God or investing for eternal values.
- Covenant Groups can change a man’s life because CG’s address two needs in every man’s life; meeting with God regularly to reflect on His word and pray, and meeting regularly with other men for support and encouragement.
- Living as a Christ-follower was never intended as a solo sport. We are part of the body of Christ. Just as no part of our physical body can say it has no need for another part, men need to acknowledge the need for other men in our lives.
- Men need to know God, to be transformed by God and to be committed to God’s mission…develop a personal relationship with Christ—to abide in Him. We also need real relationships with like-minded men—brothers in faith—who can encourage us. Our love for God is often expressed by how we support, encourage, and pray for others.
Walking with Christ means pursuing a daily, personal relationship with Him. That means listening to Him through what His Word speaks to us. It also means talking to God—that is what authentic prayer is all about. Abiding in Christ means living a life of ‘believing loyalty’; it results in an inner joy that comes from a deep intimacy with Christ. When we spend time in His Word, the Spirit exposes our motives, transforms our desires, and renews our minds.
A Covenant Group is not a typical bible study. Instead, covenant group involvement begins with a personal commitment to spend time with God and with other men for the purpose of knowing God, growing in Christlike character, and supporting one other in our spiritual journey.
A Covenant Group commitment is simply an agreement, made in our heart to God, that we will make a sincere commitment to read and reflect on Scripture and to share our lives and support to one another.
A Covenant Group is not heavily regimented or based on a bible study curriculum. Nothing more than a good translation of the Bible, a willing heart, and availability to meet with other men are needed.
3. Asking Recruits to Pray
It’s OK to let men know a covenant group isn’t for everyone. It requires commitment, time, and consistency. Ask them to pray about this commitment prevents superficial decision making.
4. Affirm Their Decision
Whether a man decides to join or not, respect each man’s decision and hold them in positive regard.
5. Set Up Orientation Meeting
Pick a time to start your Covenant Group with a low-key meeting. Decide whether this will take place with or without a meal…but men like to eat. Print out an agreement for each prospective group member, and have an idea which plan you will utilize for the first term.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Pick Your Plan
This is for you if…
- The men you are thinking of starting a group with have walked through some life together
- Each of you has a general understanding of Scripture
- You all buy in to the idea of a Covenant Group – Review the Covenant
Ideal Plan: The HighQuest Challenge
Read More >>
This is for you if…
- The men you are thinking of starting a group with are just getting to know one another
- Some members may or may not be familiar with Scripture
- Some members may not be ready to commit to an AWG (Appointment with God) every day
Ideal Plan: Better Man
Read More >>
*Note: This option is really a way to gear up to a Covenant Group.
Launch & Sustain
Just as the big game is planned for an Autumn Saturday with a noon kickoff, the first Covenant Group meeting is a kick-off event. Pick a start date with at least 12 weeks following so, to the extent possible, schedules are not interrupted by holidays or vacations. Early September or January is better than July or November. Your first meeting is a kick-off event to connect, exchange personal information, review the agreement, devotional plans, & pray. It’s beneficial to assign the first week’s content at the kick-off meeting rather than emailing an ‘assignment’ prior to your first gathering.
At your first get-together, the newly recruited Covenant Group members should review the covenant agreement, share contact information, decide upon their Bible reading plan as proposed by the leader, and determine the time to meet and the length of the weekly meeting. Spending time in prayer is another important part of an orientation meeting.
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