Join a Covenant Group
Covenant Groups are Small Group Ministries
Covenant Groups are a vital part of our church. Groups of 6-10 people meet regularly, to think about and discuss significant life topics.
Small groups are great places to get to know other people and to get to know yourself. Over time, participants build deep connections with one another, with the congregation and with the sacred.
“People come to church longing for, yearning for, hoping for … a sense of roots, place, belonging, sharing and caring. People come to a church with a search for community …” — Glenn Turner
Our Covenant Group program deepens and broadens personal spiritual growth. A group usually consists of 6-10 people who meet at each others’ homes, usually once every two weeks. Each meeting focuses on a spiritual or religious topic. Covenant Groups broaden personal spiritual growth through five activities:
- Listening: Deep listening is a gift for both the speaker and the listener. A connection forms when we share and give this gift to each other.
- Worship: Worship is central to the life of our congregation. Covenant Groups augment and strengthen our shared experience.
- Community: Covenant Groups meet the need for connection and intimacy that is both a hunger in our society and essential to the ongoing life of a religious community.
- Learning: People come to the church looking for spiritual growth. They want to know themselves better and grow into their understanding of the world. They also want to ponder the age-old questions of faith: how to live, what to believe, how to act, what meanings we can decipher from the mystery of life.
- Service: A life of faith is a life of service. Service is gift; a way for human beings to be useful. Healthy churches offer ways for its members to offer service to others.
The Covenant Group Coordinator and minister provide overall guidance, recruit new members, set up new groups, and develop session plans.
How Covenant Groups Work
Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or religious topics through a process of deep listening and service projects. Often, meeting topics might include: sacred places, perfection, mothers, community, living simply, music, and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace.
We expect each group to conduct a service project once a year. In general, projects serve the church or local community. Sometimes they are larger projects that reach beyond our church community.
- Size: Groups are intentionally small, 6-10 members.
- Structured Format: The structure of the group sets a tone for personal sharing beyond ordinary conversation or communication. Structure includes, Gathering, Opening, Check In, Topic, Sharing, Check Out, Closing. Listening and non-judgment are important parts of the sharing time.
- Frequency: Groups should to meet twice a month, but no less than once a month. The more groups meet, the more effective they are.
- Setting: Groups generally meet in private homes.
- Covenants: Each small group is responsible for establishing a Covenant of Right Relations that specifies how members will be with one another. Each covenant includes the group’s commitment to community service.
- Duration: Groups stay together for about a year. At that time new people may join the program, and participants may decide whether they want to continue with their group, join another group, or move on to something else.
- Empty Chair: Covenant groups often include an empty chair to symbolize that there are others who need inclusion. It is also a reminder of the expectation that a new group will develop (be “born”) when membership in a group expands beyond about 10 people. Each covenant group decides, through their covenanting process, whether to include an empty chair.
- Facilitators: These are trained volunteers who guide a covenant group.
Group Member Responsibilities
Group members commit to regular meeting times and to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or even thinking about a response to what the other person is saying. Deep listening gives the speaker an opportunity to speak without interruption or comment.
Service to the Congregation
Service is an important part of covenant groups. Each group performs a service for the congregation and/or the greater community. Service is a way to develop spiritual growth by highlighting the relationship between giving and receiving gifts.
What to Expect in a Meeting
- Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, reminding participants of the special opportunity of the gathering, possibly reflecting the topic of the session. The meeting may begin with the lighting of a candle or a chalice.
- Check-In: Participants share news about current events in their lives. Each group develops its own customs as to the length of sharing. This part of the meeting may expand from time to time when circumstances call for it.
- Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will promote thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done with it in one evening.
- Check-Out: Likes and wishes, an opportunity for feedback.
- Closing Words: This brings the formal session to and end. Groups should start and end on time.