What is Covenant Discipleship?
Covenant Discipleship is a way of helping congregations form small groups that form youth and adults as disciples of Jesus Christ. Group members help each other grow in discipleship through mutual accountability and support for developing habits described in a covenant they write together, shaped by the General Rule of Discipleship: To witness to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Who participates in Covenant Discipleship with youth?
- Youth as individuals or as group leaders
- Adults as group leaders or organizers
- Leaders should be familiar with “Disciples Making Disciples” and other resources designed to equip “Class Leaders” in Covenant Discipleship
- Church staff as administrative support and leadership support
- Groups can be made up of youth exclusively, or youth can participate in groups with those of other ages (adults and children)
- When a group is intergenerational, accommodations and safety precautions should be put into place using “Growing Everyday Disciples” and “Everyday Disciples” resources as references.
When can Covenant Discipleship groups with youth meet?
- They should meet regularly, on a day/time that works for group members.
- Traditional Covenant Discipleship groups meet weekly, usually for no more than an hour.
- Covenant Discipleship with youth encourages group leaders to consider using technology as a means of regularly connecting a group of youth in case schedules are difficult to mesh. Youth and leaders can think creatively about what “regular” connection looks like in their context.
Where can Covenant Discipleship with youth groups meet?
- Anywhere that is convenient and agreed to by all participants.
- Gatherings with youth do involve the need to inform church leadership and parents of locations and times for the sake of transparency.
Why offer Covenant Discipleship with youth?
- Churches of all sizes can use these groups as a part of their Discipleship system.
- Economical. No need to purchase constantly updated curriculum or provide too many supplies. Create buy-in and invest time and energy into leadership development instead.
- Young people are primed for social accountability. These groups help leadership identify the wants and needs of young people in their congregation, and create a system that supports their faith development.
What are the minimum components of a Covenant Discipleship group with youth?
- Minimum of 3 individuals, maximum of 7 in any group (churches can of course have multiple groups)
- A leader who arranges the regular meeting time, and reminds individuals to participate
- A covenant created and signed by active members of the group
- A minimum commitment to meet for 4 months regularly. Ongoing groups are encouraged, but sometimes youth do better with fixed time commitments.
- Willingness to modify the covenant, meeting times, etc. in order to encourage full participation.
- Support and creation of space for covenant discipleship groups from church leadership
- Transparency, honesty, and an understanding of confidentiality congruent with Safe Sanctuaries (or the equivalent policy in use by the local church)