Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.
Bishop Ken Carder issued the call at a Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and I and others answered. The call was for both laity and clergy to commit to a deeper level of discipleship by entering into mutual accountability with other Christians in a Covenant Discipleship Group.
In my local congregation, six persons – clergy and laity – entered into a Wesleyan covenant to meet weekly to hold each other accountable in love on our Christian journeys. That was over a decade ago, and through the years the Spirit has moved in life transforming ways.
We experienced the challenges of living in community as we wrote our covenant together in the areas of worship, devotion, compassion and justice. In living out these disciplines, we have seen lives transformed by offering Christ to a hurting world. One person offered her home as shelter to an abused woman; a suburban soccer mom now regularly writes and visits a man on death row; one member inspired us with her advocacy for neglected children; a layperson answered the call to ordained ministry; a corporate executive sacrificed financially to answer a call to become a neonatal intensive care nurse; a clergywoman answered a call to prison ministry; and another member challenged us weekly to speak out for those to whom basic justice is denied. We know that all this has been the work of the Spirit of Christ transforming hearts and lives for service to a world that needs God’s love.
In Covenant Discipleship Groups modern disciples have recaptured the wisdom of John Wesley’s class meetings. We all need Christian friends who hold us in prayer and love as we mature in faith, seeking to offer our lives to God and neighbor in good and pleasing ways.
God of renewal, thank you for the work of your Spirit in transforming lives by acts of worship, devotion, compassion, and justice. Help us continue to mature in love. We pray in the love of Jesus. AMEN.
The Rev. Libby Baxter
Spiritual Formation Team, Tennessee Conference