This Covenant experience will guide participants in a comprehensive, in-depth study of the Bible over twenty-four weeks. Unlike the learning participants may have experienced in other groups, this in-depth study of the whole Bible emphasizes the biblical concept of covenant as a unifying pattern through all the books in the Old and New Testaments. It underscores the unique relationship that God chooses to have with us as God’s people. This relationship is grounded in the faithfulness of God’s love and on our ongoing commitment to stay in love with God while we share signs of that love with others.
The Leader Guide contains comprehensive and detailed direction for each meeting experience. While each group’s chemistry will vary, the Leader Guide contains the following elements:
•The Group Meeting Experience—Each Covenant Bible Study episode follows the same essential structure by balancing conversational teaching from biblical experts with engaging discussion among the participants. Covenant is designed so that the meaning of the Bible isn’t found in just listening to a biblical scholar or listening to one’s own inner voice. Only through conversation in community, in the Covenant Group Meeting Experience, can we discover the Bible’s transformative power. During some weeks the group might be so full of energy and questions that conversation leaves less time for the video. That’s okay. The spiritual energy that wakes up and transforms a life is the most important result from this kind of Bible study.
•Gathering Together (10 min)—The opening questions of this segment in each episode are designed to prompt conversation on a general topic that connects to the main theme of the episode. Begin by reading the scriptures in the Covenant Prayer section for Episode 1. Have one person say the phrase, “For those who . . .” and then the whole group responds by reading the scripture passage aloud (Neh 8:8 and then 8:10).
•Reflecting Together (10 min) —This segment guides participants to share what they learned from the week’s scripture readings with questions that tie their discoveries into a central theme. The study also encourages participants to memorize and share verses from the readings that they found particularly meaningful.
•Video Segment (25 min) —Play the orientation video for Episode 1. The cohosts for this opening conversation are Reverend Shane Stanford, senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and Reverend Christine Chakoian, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest, Illinois. They will meet with a different biblical scholar in each video episode.
•Discovering Together (15 min) —This segment in the following episodes builds on the insights of the biblical scholar and analyzes a single passage from the week’s readings. The questions in the Group Meeting Experience section of the participant guide encourage a comprehensive look at the form, style, and central meaning of the scripture text. This segment will teach participants how to “go deeper” in the way they explore the Bible’s meaning. If you handed out the participant guides before the first meeting, or if individuals downloaded the participant guides to their mobile devices, assign a single Bible passage (Deuteronomy 10) to be read before the meeting, as well. It will be discussed briefly at the first meeting during this segment.
•Centering Together (10 min) —This segment provides a meditation, which is a devotional way to read the Bible. This is a critical part of the experience because it ensures the study experience is not only informative for the mind, but also formative for the heart. It will teach participants how to use imagination, prayer, and listening while reading scripture. These spiritual practices can strengthen their relationship with God. You may choose to have willing participants report on this experience (always located on Day 6 in the participant guide) if they are trying it at home. As an alternative, the leader guide includes this as a weekly group practice every week because some individuals are unfamiliar with this kind of meditation. Decide the best fit for your group; try it both ways, as individuals and as a group.
•Serving Together (5 min) —Read together the “Signs of Faithful Love” at the end of this episode. Then remind them that they are committing to a twenty-four-week Covenant experience together where they will:
• read the Bible daily and write responses in their participant guides;
• pray for other members of the group each day;
• meet with the group every week;
• listen for God speaking through the Bible and each other; and
• invite the Holy Spirit to change their lives through exposure to the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ encountered in the scriptures.
Participants are encouraged to conceive and share tangible ways that each week’s readings will alter their priorities and perspectives and shape their behavior.
More Questions? Visit http://covenantbiblestudy.com/ for more information.
Numerous helps for leaders are available, including group calendars, daily emailed Bible readings, video training tips, bonus videos, and supplemental Bible resources.
Every Covenant leader will want a copy of the CEB Study Bible.
Available March, 2014