Covenant Discipleship is disciple-shaping process that offers children the opportunity to use their experiences in school, in church, at home, and in the community, discovering ways to “love God and neighbor” through specific acts. Covenant Discipleship forms a rule of life for all of us, especially for our children. The best definition of a rule of life comes from Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast:
“A rule of life is a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. . . It fosters gifts of the Spirit in personal life and human community, helping to form us into the persons God intends us to be” (Westminster John Knox, 1995, p. 138).
If I am a member of a sports team, dance or gymnastic troupe, Scout troop, or another group, can I still participate?
You must decide whether the sport or activity will allow your child to keep the group’s covenant to attend weekly, missing no more than one time a month. Making choices is sometimes difficult and every family needs to decide.
Why can’t I just come when I can, like with Sunday school or another children’s ministry?
Covenant Discipleship is a unique ministry. Since the children build trust within a confidential Covenant Discipleship group, are faithful to a covenant each week, and the Justice and Compassion Time experiences usually develop from one week to another, this is a ministry where you need to agree to come each week rather than to come when you can.
Can I bring a friend to one of the group’s activities?
Since Covenant Discipleship is a specialized ministry for those who make a commitment, we ask that you do not bring a friend. Please feel free to invite your friend(s) to consider registering and becoming part of Covenant Discipleship the next time.
As a parent, if my child is not happy in their small group, what can I do?
Encourage your child to meet new friends and explain that Covenant Discipleship is about new experiences, new friends, and doing for others.
How are discipline matters handled?
Discipline issues are handled according to church policy. However, when a discipline issue occurs at a project site, parents will be notified immediately, as it will not be tolerated. The coordinator will work with the parent and child on a plan for future weeks.
Should Covenant Discipleship with Children be something I “make” my child participate because I think he or she should?
You should encourage and offer your child the opportunity. However, since this a commitment to attend the weekly session as well as live out the group’s covenant during the week, the child should feel called to this ministry. Not every older elementary child is ready for this. We are looking for children who have a heart to grow in their love of God and others.
Do I have to wear my identifier (T-shirts, cross, bracelet) to every Covenant Discipleship meeting and every time I serve?
Yes, because it helps participants feel a part of the group. It also helps them to be recognized as part of the group, keeping them safe when they are serving in worship or in the community. Identifiers are worn when groups practice acts of justice in the community.
Growing Everyday Disciples: Covenant Discipleship with Children is available at the Upper Room online book store. Order a copy today.