What is a Covenant Discipleship Group?
A smaller group of youth who meet regularly and encourage each other to develop into more mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
Who leads a group?
Each group should have an identified “guide” who keeps the conversation in the group focused, supportive, and free from judgement. That guide should have support and training from adult church leaders. That guide can be a youth or an adult.
Who writes the covenant?
The participants of the group, with input from their guide and an adult youth leader or youth pastor
Does the youth pastor have to be in every group?
No, in fact, a youth pastor who effectively trains guides frees up time for themselves to be in relationship with other church members and youth more effectively. A functioning covenant discipleship group with youth can run on indefinitely with oversite from church leadership, but without the youth pastor being involved personally in the group.
What is shared in a covenant group?
How each person fared since the last meeting in terms of meeting the actions and behaviors called for in the covenant. Also, prayer requests.
Information shared in a covenant group is confidential to the members of that group. Covenant Discipleship with youth does include instances where breaking confidence must be done (like if a group member understands that harm is imminent for a fellow group member or other person, or issues related to Safe Sanctuaries) Those exceptions, along with guidelines for confidentiality with youth, are outlined in an additional PDF.
How often do the groups meet?
The standard for adult groups is once a week, groups with youth are encouraged to think creatively about how often to meet in person and use technology (texting, social media) to be able to continually check-in on each other between in-person meetings.
Can adults be in covenant discipleship groups with youth?
Yes! In fact covenant discipleship groups are tremendous opportunities for intergenerational ministry and connection. All members in a group develop and use the same covenant together, so the youth and adult members of the group would have the same expectations for participation.
Can a group be youth only?
Yes! If you have the right youth trained as group “guides” and support from the congregation.
This sounds like small groups in a different package.
Covenant Discipleship Groups are smaller on purpose, because they ask participants to go deep in sharing and accountability. These are not groups based on affinity, life stages, or ages. These are groups who commit to support each other as they seek spiritual maturity. Those reasons create a different focus for covenant discipleship groups as opposed to a small group.
Youth are busy already, too busy.
Youth (and adults!) make time for what they value. If church leadership identifies the development of spiritually mature disciples of Jesus Christ as important, the value created by covenant discipleship should be obvious.
Covenant Discipleship groups do meet regularly, and require intentionality, but the in-person meetings and regular check-ins can be flexibly scheduled to meet the needs of the group. These groups are about developing habits and support, not creating more to do. The activities of balanced discipleship can be woven into what a youth is already doing. People of faith doing faithful things every day, hence the title “Everyday Disciples.”
This is going to be a lot of work for our youth leaders.
Starting any new ministry will take some effort. However, the development of youth who are spiritually mature disciples will actually lower the weight carried by existing youth leaders. Many hands make light work, and those involved with covenant discipleship groups should find themselves more often in position to become leaders and connect with the body of Christ through the church.
Once start up is complete, the roll of a youth pastor, staff person or leader can be either relational or administrative, helping track the growth of group participants.