Rick Warren has developed a “Small Group Covenant” which I believe is an incredibly important tool that Sunday School classes could leverage to encourage health in their group. This week I want to share the contents of that covenant and one other thought about Warren which is relevant to small group health.
We are at the beginning of a new Sunday School year. The truth is that “new Sunday School years” really matter more to preschool, children, and youth departments because it is the time when they promote. Yes we start a new quarter of curriculum but we do that several times a year. By the way, preschool, children, and youth are not the only people who can “promote” in Sunday School. As adults, of course no one is going to be forced to move from one class to another…but people are always free to. You might mention to your class that at beginning of this new Sunday School year, if they feel they have moved into a stage of life in which another class might be a better fit; this is a natural time to transition. You may not have any takers, but there is something freeing and healthy about people being given permission to transition if they feel led.
Another natural opportunity that exists at the beginning of the new Sunday School year is to reinforce the purpose of the group and agree on some group values. You may have done this last year, but hopefully you have some new people and they would benefit from hearing healthy group values reinforced. The following is the covenant from Warren which I hope will be a good tool for you.
GROUP PURPOSE: ______________________________________________
(Hint: Use our W.O.R.K.S. acronym to inform your class of its purpose)
As a group, we agree to the following:
To give priority to the group meeting.
To help create a safe place where people can be heard. No quick answers or judgments.
To keep anything that is shared strictly confidential. What’s said in group, stays in group.
To give permission to group members to hold you accountable to the goals you set for yourself.
To keep the door open to others in our community (unconnected and unchurched people) who need what we have.
To take an active role in the responsibilities of this small group.
“If you are a member of a small group or class, I urge you to make a group covenant that includes the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship: We will share our true feelings (authenticity), forgive each other (mercy), speak the truth in love (honesty), admit our weaknesses (humility), respect our differences (courtesy), not gossip (confidentiality), and make group a priority (frequency).”
― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?