man with plaid shirt and jeans and Bible sitting in the forest thinking

We’re all accustomed to classroom teachers–‘leaders’ who tell us how to think and what to think about. That’s not the role of a covenant group leader. The covenant group leader’s role is not to teach, but instead to share, guide and assist covenant group members as they read, reflect, listen to others, and share their ideas and insights. A better term is covenant group ‘facilitator’ or perhaps ‘group mentor’.

The most powerful kind of learning does not come from being told what to think but in learning how to think about it for oneself.

Consider 6 suggestions:

  • Model good listening skills—This is critical. Listen to other’s insights and affirm their insights or efforts.
  • Learn to ask ‘open ended’ questions that draw out sharing.
  • Encourage everyone to share—try to prevent any members from dominating the discussion.
  • Resist the urge to give corrective guidance in a group setting unless it’s gently done to keep the group from distraction or fruitless debate.
  • Learn how to use good ‘qualifiers’ such as “There are other opinions on this passage, but my view it as…” “I’m not the authority on this but…”
  • Remind covenant group members that unity does not require uniformity on non-essential issues.

Set the Pace with 4 Questions:

Covenant group leader set the pace for the group by asking the four covenant group questions at the appropriate time:

Covenant Group is an environment in which 3 to 8 men meet regularly for perspective, encouragement, and voluntary accountability. Most men tend to live Isolated rather than connected, compartmentalized rather than integrated, and disengaged rather than engaged.

A Covenant Group creates a consistent place where men can be listened to, taken seriously, and understood.

The Covenant Group leader understands the group meeting consists of four essentials: Connection, Exploration, Application, and Prayer. Each one of these is a vital part of the Covenant Group experience.

1. Connection

Because we care, what do we need to know?

Each Covenant Group should begin with an open-ended question like the one above. Most men are asking the question “who knows and who really cares?” A Covenant Group create a safe environment where men can learn to relate to one another on a deeper level than news, weather, sports, or politics. Men need the opportunity to honestly discuss real and relevant issues in their life. Men need to be listened to, excepted, and respected by other men.

2. Exploration

“Because God’s word is true what are you discovering?”

The Covenant Group assumes that passivity quenches our fellowship with God. Most men learn when they are involved in the process of discovery. As Covenant Group members become comfortable reading and reflecting on scripture through their daily appointment with God (AWG), they will become comfortable answering the question above by sharing personal insights and discussing what they’re hearing from others.

3. Application

“Because God’s word is practical, what application is God wanting for your life?”

Men need more than insights, they need application. Application takes the truth of scripture and integrates them into the fabric of our life. We mature through the application of God’s Word into the fabric of our lives. God never intended spiritual truths to be kept in a ‘knowledge compartment’ of our lives. His desire is for us to integrate His Word into every aspect of life.

The Covenant Group is it environment where men are loved and excepted yet, at the same time, challenged to change. Men need a band of Brothers who will care and encourage them; they also need men who will challenge them to do what is right and celebrate when they do it.

Men need to respond to the question: What difference does this make in our lives?

4. Prayer

“Because God cares for our lives, how can we pray for one another?”

The Covenant Group includes personal prayer for and with each other. Holding up each other in prayer is a critical force for encouragement and faith filled living. When men share their needs and victories together in the context of prayer, a strong connection is built, and it turns our focus to Gods work in our lives.

Some men find it easy to pray in a small group environment. Others find this to be the most difficult part of a Covenant Group meeting, at least initially. The Covenant Group leader needs to be flexible and responsive to the backgrounds of the members. However, as the Covenant Group develops, a greater sense of honesty and transparency usually occurs. When that happens, prayer becomes less formal, more relaxed and a regular part of the covenant group.

Using a conversational style of prayer allows members to participate at their own comfort level. The Covenant Group leader needs to guard this prayer time, as it can easily become absorbed by the other parts of the covenant group.