Developing a Covenant Relationship

An aid to spiritual growth through the Small Group Movement

 

     How can we as shepherds deepen the commitment of the

members of our household group?  How can we "provoke" one

another to good works?

     I suggest that we engage in a "holy experiment" –

in a specific concentrated effort which has been labeled

a "sanctified buddy system."

     Simply put, the experiment would consist of two group

members covenanting together to encourage one another in

spiritual growth – with each member assuming responsi-

bility to inquire about – and pray for — his "buddy's"

spiritual progress.

     How would the "buddy" be chosen?  I suggest that each

member be responsible for choosing his buddy after being

given the following guidelines:

 

     l)  The spiritual "buddy" should be a member of the

         same sex–whenever possible.

     2)  The "buddy" should be someone other than one's

         spouse.

     3)  The spiritual qualities of a prospective "buddy"

         should be considered. (For example, a person

         might choose a "buddy" who has made progress in

         an area in which he himself is weak – self-

         control, patience, etc.).

     4)  Direction should be given that one should be pre-

         pared to risk rejection – that a prospective

         buddy might not desire to covenant with a parti-

         cular brother or sister at that time – but might

         be open to such a commitment at a later date.

 

     What would the covenant consist of?  I believe the

covenant should be a mutually agreeable written agreement

made for a definite length of time.  The covenant should

be specific enough so that both people will know that pro-

gress has been made, but should grow out of the broad

character traits that are characteristic of a mature

Christian.  (Each person should consider the seven quali-

ties identified in 2 Peter 1:5-7 or the fruit of the Spirit

listed in Galations 5:22-23.)

     The covenant could also be based on a quality present

in a Biblical character.  As a character's life is examined,

the question should be raised, "what is there in the life

of this person that I need to emulate?"

 

      It  is  probably best that a person choose for him-

self,  after prayer and study, what he would covenant

about.   However,  suggestions from spouses and friends

may be appropriate – as long as the person readily

agrees that he  needs to grow in that area.

 

      What responsibilities might each "covenanter"

have? I suggest  four:

 

      1)  To pray  daily for his partner.

      2)  To make  inquiry about his partner's progress

         on a weekly basis.

      3)  To share openly his feelings and thoughts with

         his partner as they meet privately for a few

         minutes  during the household meeting.

      4)  To keep  confidential those matters he  ought.

 

      What would be the procedure for beginning  a

covenant relationship within a household group?

 

      l)  Propose  the program, discuss, and modify it.

      2)  Have each person identify (in writing) the

         specific spiritual goals he wishes to  obtain.

      3)  Allow  everyone who wishes to do so to  share

         their  goals in the larger group.

      4)  Choose partners.

      5)  Have a definite regular sharing time for part-

         ners at  each household meeting,

      6)  Change partners as need arises.

 

      One of the strengths of this "program" is  that

there  is a  degree of accountability without being legal-

istic. "The partner is not  saying, "You  must do this",

but rather,  "After you identify where God wants you to

grow  spiritually,  you have  given me permission  to in-

quire  how you are doing –  indeed, to "confront in love".

The person initiating the covenant is in  a sense saying,

"I want  to  be more godly.   I want you to  help me in

doing  that".

     May His  Spirit  continue to  "change us  from glory

into glory"  as  we  "encourage one another  in the  faith."

 

                               -Developed by Bob  Kvasnica