Some of you may be familiar with Covenant Discipleship (CD) groups, and if you are, then you might already be excited because you know how powerful they can be! Below, you can find a rough overview of parameters of the “study.” We hope you’ll pray about signing up!
The Why: Following the all-church study in the Fall, we received a lot of feedback indicating that folks really enjoyed the opportunity to build deeper relationships with others at SSUMC. CD groups are a fairly no-frills way to give the congregation more opportunities for connecting with each other, while also offering folks a way to tailor their discipleship practices (Lenten and otherwise!) to their own growing edges, rather than to a set curriculum. They are a powerful way to structure a small group!
The Overview: Covenant Discipleship groups are small groups (4-8 people) that come together to create a covenant to help guide their discipleship journey, both individually and together. They meet weekly (in person or via video chat) for one hour to discuss “how it is with their souls,” to help keep each other accountable, to pray together, and to support each other in keeping the covenant. The flexibility in meeting time and mechanism are another big plus about CD groups for our church! I foresee multiple lunch-time virtual meeting groups, a post-kid-bedtime group or two, etc. Instructions for the best video chat services for groups will be provided!
The History: Covenant Discipleship groups are a modern version of the groups that were central to the beginning of the Methodist movement nearly 300 years ago!
Is this a curriculum?: NOPE. See attached for some examples of covenant clauses and a suggested format. Each group decides on 1-2 goals from each of 4 categories (Worship, Devotion, Justice, Compassion). Here are some examples!
Is 1-2 goals for each category enough? YEP! We don’t want this to feel like a to-do list. Also, I know that the task of intentional discipleship can sometimes feel overwhelming, let alone the ways in which the world is overwhelming right now. Simplifying those goals and tasks for right now is helpful for achievability and frankly, for mental and spiritual health. It might be hard to choose 1-2 justice-related issues to focus on for 6 weeks, but can also be freeing. Let some other groups shoulder the other issues for a little while and focus on one that the Spirit has called you to this season.
Is leading a CD group difficult?: NOPE. It’s much more facilitating discussion than teaching or being responsible for curriculum content. Staff and others familiar with CD will be available to help support new leaders at the first meetings when covenants are drafted if desired. All of you have the skills you need to be fruitful leaders of groups, and the time commitment outside of the initial training and the actual meetings is very limited, and dedicated to the same discipleship practices as the others in your group.
Will CD groups be taking the place of the regularly offered study groups? Generally speaking, no. Because it’s not a curriculum and because it works best in pretty small groups, it’s not a good fit for our existing groups. The possible exception to this is the early morning Wed/Thurs group!