Tool Help: Covenant

HOW TO USE THE GROUP COVENANT TOOL

From January 5th until February 15th all LIFE Group leaders will begin trying to use the GPS Tool and the Group Covenant tool.  Please read below for support on how to implement the Group Covenant Tool.  [NOTE: This tool comes from Garrett Higbee and his ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel – http://biblicalsoulcare.org/uncommoncommunity]

COVENANT TOOL PURPOSE: the Group Covenant provides your LIFE Group with a tangible way to represent and strengthen its agreed upon values and community practices.

COVENANT TOOL EXPLANATION:  A covenant is not a hoop to jump through.  Instead, it is simply a tangible way to represent and strengthen the agreed upon values and community practices of the group.  It is important for us to realize that if there are no agreed upon goals for spiritual and relational growth in our group and no agreed upon commitment to achieving those goals, nothing will improve.  True community will elude us.  Also, a covenant provides a less awkward way to keep each other accountable.  With a covenant you aren’t stuck saying to someone “out of the blue”, “how come you keep missing group?”  Instead, you can say, “Hey, Joe, do you remember our group covenant?  I’ve missed you the last couple of meetings.  Is everything ok?”  The covenant can be the “bad cop” instead of the individual members of the group.  The suggested Group Covenant below is simply a template to get your group started.  Your group may choose to use this covenant or they may come up with one that better suits the specific needs of the group.

SUGGESTED GROUP COVENANT TOOL:  The Nine P’s

  1. Proper Priority – unless sick or having an emergency, we will make every effort to be at group
  2. Prepared – we will do the Bible homework each week and seek to be teachable
  3. Place God First – we will cultivate a quiet time with God in His Word and in prayer
  4. Place of Redemption – we will make group a safe place with no judgments
  5. Prudent and Discrete – we will maintain confidentiality
  6. Personal Accountability – we will give each other permission to speak into our lives; “my business is your business”
  7. Promote Vulnerability – we will seek to be honest and open before each other about our struggles
  8. Prayerful – we will regularly pray for each other
  9. Purposeful Multiplication – we will risk being vulnerable to show others how the Gospel redeems our sins and struggles so they might be drawn into the beautiful life of the community of Christ

COVENANT (AND GPS TOOL) IMPLEMENTATION STEPS:

Watch two LIFE Group Leaders share how they implemented the GPS and Group Covenant Tools

MEETING #1 – At your next group meeting read together Acts 2:42-47.  Have a discussion.  Ask questions like: “What was encouraging to you about how the believers were interacting?”  ”What does true community look like to you?”  ”Have you ever experienced true community like this in church before?  If so, share about it.”  Close your meeting by asking your LIFE Group to reflect on the following question and bring prayerful answers to discuss at the next meeting: “What do you desire to get out of this group?”

MEETING #2 – Write down all the responses people give to that question.  Tell your group that you will send out the list of answers via email to the whole group.  Ask your group members to read and pray over that list.  Ask them to think of Bible verses that relate to those answers.  Ask them to highlight the answers that seemed the most important goals of group life.

MEETING # 3 – Discuss the Bible verses and begin to form a consensus on what are the most important things to get out of group life.  I guarantee two of the key themes will be about deeper relationships and greater spiritual growth.  After this discussion, tell your group that as their leader, you want to help lead them toward true community.  Explain to them that Stonebridge has given you a tool that will help your group clearly and systematically assess where they are currently at in terms of being a true, biblical community.  Hand out copies of the GPS Tool and give a brief explanation of it (see explanation above).   Based on where they think the group is now, ask them to take a week to prayerfully rate each of the 6 group components (vertical axis) from 1 to 10 using the relational vulnerability scale at the bottom of the tool.

MEETING # 4 – Discuss everyone’s ratings.  Be sure to write everything down for your records.  You may want to email these out to everyone as well.  Ask the group what areas look like they need the most work?  Ask them what some achievable goals could be in those areas.  Ask them what potential challenges exist that may make achieving these goals difficult.  Ask them what some specific and measurable steps could be taken to overcoming these challenges and achieving these goals.  Make sure to write these down and email them out.  Have the group pray over them and bring any additional thoughts to the next meeting.

MEETING # 5 – Have everyone share any additional thoughts about goals, challenges and steps to achieving the goals.  Ask them: “What is the best way to help each other stay focused on achieving these goals?”  At some point, suggest the idea of a group Covenant.  Explain to them that a covenant is not a hoop to jump through.  Instead, a covenant gives a group a tangible way to represent their agreed upon values and community practices.  Help them understand that if there are no agreed upon goals for change and no agreed upon commitment to achieving those goals, nothing will improve.  True community will elude them.  Also, help them see that a covenant provides a less awkward way to keep each other accountable.  With a covenant you aren’t stuck saying to someone “out of the blue”, “how come you keep missing group?”  Instead, you can say, “Hey, Joe, do you remember our group covenant?  I’ve missed you the last couple of meetings.  Is everything ok?”  Let the covenant be the “bad cop” instead of the individual members of the group.  Ask them to spend the week praying about the idea of a covenant.  Give them a copy of the Covenant Tool as a springboard for their own thinking.  Your group may choose to use this covenant or they may come up with one that better suits the needs of your group.

MEETING # 6 – Discuss everyone’s thoughts about a covenant.  Spend the group time developing a rough draft of a covenant.  Email out the draft and ask everyone to pray over it and come back to finalize the covenant at the next meeting.

MEETING # 7 – Finalize the covenant.  Agree to use this covenant as a way to help each other achieve the goal of true, biblical community.  Pray together and ask God to bless this effort.

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