You should be in a covenant group.
Let me tell you about mine. For the last year and a half, David, Gracie, Amanda, Krysta, and I—all Vanderbilt classmates and now Methodist pastors—have met on Wednesdays at 11:00 through video conference call. The five of us have covenanted to engage in acts of compassion, devotion, justice, and worship; and every week ask each other how we have been living up to the commitments we made together.
More than any other practice in which I’ve partaken, this group has helped hold me accountable to a life of consistent spiritual discipline. I know most every week that I’ll have people asking me about my life as a disciple of Jesus—about my prayer and scripture reading, about whether or not I have spoken up when I’ve seen injustice, about how I experienced God in worship, and about how I’ve extended grace toward others and recognize grace extended toward me. I also know that with them I have a community with whom I can be honest about my failures. And I know that they will respond to me with grace, giving me a fresh perspective on my life and my decisions. This group has challenge me when I needed challenging, encouraged me when I needed encouraging, and corrected me when I needed correcting. Each week we close with this prayer, which captures what we’re all about:
Open my eyes to your presence, O God,
that I may see the sorrows and joys of your creatures.
Open my ears to your will, O God,
that I may have the strength to keep this covenant.
Open my heart and my hands in mercy, O God,
that I may receive mercy when I fail. Amen.
This fall our church is going to take a step toward giving everyone that kind of opportunity to grow as a disciple of Christ. In addition to our regular teaching session at Refresh at 6:00 on Wednesday evenings, we will also offer covenant groups that will commit to growing as disciples together. At Refresh and in the covenant groups we will study the Gospel of John using a book by New Testament scholar Ben Witherington. But the covenant groups will also take time each week to examine their own lives in the areas of worship, devotion, and witness. We won’t ask you spend an hour reflecting about you life like my group does, but we will ask you to begin your sessions with a time of prayer, sharing, and mutual encouragement. It’s our hope that as you grow as disciples in these covenant groups you will reach out and invite others to grow in Christ alongside you here at First United Methodist.
Let us do life together, growing closer to Jesus, and closer to each other, through stories and experiences from the people of our church. Join us as we begin a new series for the Advent season, beginning Tuesday, November 28.