I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. [NRSV]
The entering into and committing oneself to a continuing relationship. Christians see themselves as a people of a covenant with God. The New Testament or “New Covenant” is that covenant of the saving work of Jesus Christ through the grace of God and the response Christians make in their profession of faith and baptism. This understanding of covenant has been important throughout the life of United Methodism.
Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/glossary-covenant
¶ 125. United Methodists throughout the world are bound together in a connectional covenant in which we support and hold each other accountable for faithful discipleship and mission. Integrally holding connectional unity and local freedom, we seek to proclaim and embody the gospel in ways responsible to our specific cultural and social context while maintaining “a vital web of interactive relationships” (¶ 132). At the same time, we desire to affirm and celebrate our relationships, covenants, and partnership with autonomous, affiliated autonomous, affiliated united covenanting, and concordat churches (¶¶ 570-574) as well as other partners in the Wesleyan and ecumenical Christian families. Our worldwide connectional relationship is one of the ways we carry out our missional calling beyond national and regional boundaries. For our connectionalism to become a living practice, we need to carry the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church deep into the life and mission of our local congregations. Only when we commit ourselves to interdependent worldwide partnerships in prayer, mission, and worship can connectionalism as the Wesleyan ecclesial vision be fully embodied. Guided by the Holy Spirit, United Methodist churches throughout the world are called afresh into a covenant of mutual commitment based on shared mission, equity, and hospitality.
In covenant with God and with each other:
We affirm our unity in Christ, and take faithful steps to live more fully into what it means to be a worldwide church in mission for the transformation of the world.
We commit ourselves to crossing boundaries of language, culture, and social or economic status. We commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people, as we, in faithfulness to the gospel, seek to grow in mutual love and trust.
We participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry, recognizing that our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.
We commit ourselves to full equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.
We enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality, creating a new sense of community and joyously living out our worldwide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
A Companion Litany to Our Covenant for the Worldwide United Methodist Church
Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we affirm our unity in Christ.
People: We will take faithful steps to live as a worldwide church in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people.
People: In faithfulness to the gospel, we will cross boundaries of language, culture, social or economic status as we grow in mutual love and trust.
Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry.
People: We share our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources recognizing that they are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.
Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to full equality.
People: We uphold equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.
Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality.
People: With God’s grace, we joyfully live out our worldwide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/section-1-the-churches
Wesleyan Covenant Groups
WESLEYAN SMALL GROUP RESOURCES
• Books on the Class Meeting
• Covenant Discipleship resources
• Overview of Covenant Discipleship
• Introduction to Class Leaders
• In Mission Together
• Books on Wesleyan community
• Books and studies on discipleship
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, succinctly described the plan of discipleship in what he called The General Rules. As Christians, we are to (1) do no harm by avoiding evil of every kind; (2) do good to all people; and (3) attend upon all the ordinances of God like participating in worship, taking Communion, reading the Bible, praying, and more.
Unfortunately, knowing that does not always translate into living it. Learn more about how Wesley’s concept of small groups as a place for accountability and spiritual growth have been adapted for today.