Sunday School Class and Home Bible Study Group Covenants

Sunday 11th March, 2007

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On September 13, I wrote about the Benefits of a Covenant for Revolutionary Sunday School. In that blog entry, I said that covenants raise expectancy, focus energy and effort, help avoid potential conflicts, allow for momentum and progress, and set standards.

In addition to those benefits of a covenant, I want to highlight one more. That benefit is the issue of koinonia, of fellowship. But here I am talking about more than a party. A class or group covenant brings a group together around some common issues. There is identification with one another. There is a sense of common purpose and direction. There is a desire to help one another, to encourage one another, and to see one another grow and succeed as individuals and Christians. A covenant reminds paricipants of the bond that exists.

I like an article written by Gordon MacDonald entitled Fellowship in a Purpose Driven Church. In the article, he refers to the early church and what baptism symbolized and then goes on to liken baptism to the exchange of rings in a wedding.  MacDonald states:

Followers of Christ banded together and symbolized their commitment to Christ and to one another, first, through the act of public baptism. As they were lowered into ceremonial waters, they were aware that they were sending messages to two audiences. To the larger world they were saying, I choose to follow Christ. To fellow Christians they were saying, I join with you to follow him together.

That sort of baptism was not unlike the exchange of rings in a wedding when a couple declares their love and commitment with a visible symbol. With their rings they too are sending a message to two audiences. Thus baptism in the early church meant both committing and belonging.

In so many ways, a class or group covenant sends the same messages of committing and belonging to both audiences. The message is one of commitment to Christ and each other. It is made before Christ and each other and intended to be lived out before the world. In the words of MacDonald, it is an agreement to

converge and establish priority relationships in their mutual spiritual journeys. We will be responsible for one another, they say. We will raise our children together. We will urge one another to growth and holiness and challenge one another when it is not happening. We will cheer one another on and celebrate when we see God's work in one another. And above all, we will serve one another according to the needs.

How could your class or group benefit from this kind of covenant? Deepen your experience. Strengthen your bonds. Lead your class or group to pursue a covenant. Be revolutionary!

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