First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Live and Share God's Love

Conference & Connections

Our Methodist Heritage

Covenant Discipleship Groups: An Introduction

Mutual Accountability & Support for Discipleship

A Covenant Discipleship (CD) group is 5-7 persons who meet together for one hour each week to hold one another mutually accountable for their discipleship. Groups tend to form based on the day and time people are available for a weekly meeting. There are no rules about the composition of groups. Many groups are composed of women and men together. Some are all men. Some are all women. The purpose of the weekly meetings is mutual accountability and support for discipleship. The group is guided by a covenant they write, 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.

The covenant serves as the agenda for the weekly meeting. It keeps the conversation focused on discipleship; what each member has done, or not done, during the past week to follow the teachings of Jesus in their daily lives.

Weekly Compass Heading

Covenant Discipleship groups are where Christians "watch over one another in love" by giving each other a weekly compass heading. If you have ever used a compass you know that, when used with a map, a compass will point in the direction you need to travel in order to reach your destination. Life and the world will sometimes put obstacles and choices in our way that cause us to get off course. This is why it’s important to regularly check our map and compass so that we can get back on course and make progress
towards our destination.

The goal of discipleship is to become fully the human beings God created us to be, in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Our map is the scriptures which contain the teachings of Jesus Christ:
… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength … you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Mark 12:30-31

Our compass is the General Rule of Discipleship. The mutual accountability and support that happens in a CD group meeting provides the regular compass headings that help us to make the course corrections needed to keep us on the way of Jesus that leads to our desired destination.
Task-Oriented Gatherings

Covenant Discipleship groups are task-oriented gatherings whose task is to help each other become better disciples. Members are responsible for one another. CD groups are one way congregations help their members to keep the "new commandment" Jesus gave to his disciples:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35
One way Christians love one another is by helping one another to become the persons God created us to be; by helping one another to become more dependable witness to and workers with Jesus Christ in the world.

Forming Dependable Disciples and Leaders in Discipleship

Covenant Discipleship groups are effective means of identifying and nurturing leaders in discipleship. It’s important to understand that the mission of CD groups is to develop leaders in discipleship who help the church to faithfully live out its mission with Christ in the world. While individuals certainly receive great blessing when they participate in CD groups, those blessings are secondary to the main purpose of building up the body of Christ for participation in God’s mission for the world.

CD group meeting is not where your discipleship happens, but where you make sure it happens the rest of the week. The mutual accountability and support you receive in your group keeps you mindful of what you need to do as a follower of the way of Christ. The weekly sharing in the group helps you to be intentional about doing the things Jesus taught his disciples: prayer, worship, the Lord’s Supper, reading and studying the Bible, doing no harm, and doing good to everyone.

Stay tuned for more another time. Advent Blessings.