What is a Covenant?

So far, when I have been talking with coaches and LifeGroup leaders about writing a covenant, there always seems to be some hesitation, if not direct pushback. From what I can tell, most of the resistance is to the word covenant. It evokes some weightiness and seriousness or it just feels weird.  So I wanted to help us better understand what we are asking from groups and why we would even choose the word covenant.

We chose the word covenant to describe our LifeGroup relationships because it is very different than many of the relationships we are accustomed to having. Most of our current relationships are contractual in nature, meaning our relationships revolve around an exchange of goods or services. In a contractual relationship, the goal is to get the most for the least and overall, the relationship is secondary to this exchanging of goods.

The materialistic and consumerist culture we live in is a breeding ground for contractual relationships and we drift toward treating most, if not all relationships based on the mindset of getting the most benefit for the least effort. Having a contractual disposition is detrimental to the health of our LifeGroups. LifeGroups that have contractual relationships become “me groups,” centered around appeasing my wants and my perceived needs.

A covenant relationship is just the opposite. The primary focus is not on what I can get and how cheap can I get it; the primary focus of a covenant is defining the relationship between parties and the focus is mostly on what I give rather than what I get. It is a commitment to one another. The two best examples of covenants that we are most familiar with is the Jesus’ Covenant with us and the marriage covenant. With both of these covenants, the centerpiece of the agreement is defining the relationship and then out of the relationship flows action, responsibilities and commitments.

So simply put, a LifeGroup Covenant is a LifeGroup DTR (short for "determine the relationship"). We want to define the relationship and out of this relationship will flow our responsibilities and actions toward one another.

So here are the 2 basics of a covenant:

  1. Who are we/who do we want to be? We as a LifeGroup want to be a Jesus-centered family on mission. That simple. We want to as a group all agree with and commit to this.
  2. How are we going to do our being? If we agree to be a Jesus-centered family on mission, what does that look like practically? In our culture and context we are hoping this means that groups are committing to the 3 basic rhythms: Gather together, Grow together and Go together.

So let me connect some dots for you. This campaign ends with a covenant and the focus of the covenant is to define the relationship and how we plan to live out our relationship. We are a Jesus-centered family on mission and we live this out through our rhythms. Our hope and desire is that the outcome of this campaign will be all of our LifeGroups being Jesus-centered family on mission through rhythms.

How to Write a Covenant

  1. Read Chapter 11 in Grassroots Kingdom and explain the covenant as a DTR for your group.
  2. Homework: each person should read and pray through the template on their own, then submit their thoughts and ideas to the group leader.
  3. The group leader should compile all ideas and bring them to Group Time to discuss. (As you take notes, you can use this blank electronic version of the Covenant Template if that's helpful.) The group should discuss each point and work toward an agreement.
  4. Once in agreement, celebrate your covenant with communion.
  5. Finally, submit your final covenant here by filling in the relevant fields. Once submitted, you will get a beautiful, filled out PDF of your covenant to share with your LifeGroup.

As always, ask your coach if you have any questions about the covenant process, and share your group's covenant with them when it is finalized.