Small Group Covenant
More than two hours on a Sunday, church is about sharing life together. MCC Small Groups are the way we gather during the week around the table to be the people of Jesus in our neighborhoods.
The concept of “covenant” can be elusive, and even a bit insular to our modern ears. We live in a contractual society, where agreements are kept, and if they are not, the agreement is generally broken or voided. But a covenant relationship goes beyond a contract in that not only do parties keep a covenant, but when they do not keep the covenant, the covenant keeps them. A covenant acts as a touchstone and reminder of our commitments to each other, that, even when broken, it can be returned to.
Covenant might sound like a strong word for getting together in a small group, but given the variety of schedules and demands on our time, we seek a commitment to each other as a community of Jesus. A covenant keeps us accountable to our commitments, but allows us to return when we don’t always hit the mark or reach our goals.
So as you begin setting expectations as a group, keep in mind that everyone may have different ideas of how this group functions. Do your best to prioritize others over yourself. There may be seasons of our lives where it is more difficult for each person to be involved, but don’t be afraid to set a high standard for yourselves. Covenant together as a group to make each other a priority, even when it proves difficult.
At your first meeting, begin with prayer and then enter discussion by answering these questions as a group. Some of this may have been established prior, but go over it again to prevent any misunderstandings. It might even be helpful to write this down and keep it to return to in a few months. This way you can check in and even renew your covenant with each other.
- How often will we meet as a group? (Recommended no less than once a month, preferably once a week. When reading a book, it is recommended to cover a chapter a week. So if you meet every other week, at every meeting you should discuss two chapters).
- What day and time will we meet?
- How long will we meet? (90 minutes to 2 hours recommended)
- Where will we meet? (coffee shop, brewery, someone’s home)
- Will we meet year-round? Take time off during agreed-upon seasons?
- What are the expectations for families with children? (Get/share a babysitter? Bring your kids? etc.)
- While no group should be exclusive, we do want consistency in small groups. What are the group’s expectations around guests, or people joining later down the line? ( It is recommended that you gather as a group for several months before inviting new people into the group, to have a firm identity for people to be invited into. Get to know each other and build trust before branching out)
- MCC believes that eating together is fundamental to community. How will your group “break bread” together? ( potluck-style, take-out, etc. A full meal is recommended if possible. But if this is not an option, make sure there is food and beverage each time to promote and practice hospitality)
- Some of us are naturally chatty. Others of us are great listeners. How will the group rotate through discussion leading, in order to push everyone in and out of their comfort zone?
- While each group does not need to have a “leader” per-say, who will be the point person(s) for communication for the group and for MCC pastors to connect with?
- How will we resolve conflict? How will we respond to each other when we miss the mark of keeping our covenant?
There will inevitably be more questions that arise when setting the expectations. Start with the above questions at the first gathering, and give time for other hopes, dreams, and group goals for a later meeting.