July 23, 2015 — by Bill Young


Pastor Covenant Groups: A Missionary's Perspective

To all of you pastors out there, are you in a covenant group yet? Think it’s too hard to get a group together? Well, what if the members of your group of five were on three continents, with a time difference span of 7 hours? It can be done!

A year ago I was trying to figure out what made sense in terms of finding a covenant group for myself. Since I’m not pastor of a church, and my calling has been more international in focus, where did I fit? Then I started learning about the ECO pastors who are serving as missionaries in various places, under several different agencies. How could they be part of a covenant group?

Covenant Groups for ECO Missionaries

Then it occurred to me—what about forming a covenant group for ECO missionaries? I had met a couple of them along the way, and I found email contact information for all of them. As I began to contact them, they added another couple of names. Soon we had half a dozen folks on the list. Most were ordained as pastors in ECO, but a couple were in the process. One was actually in the US but investigating mission service after having been in other countries earlier.

But can you actually form a covenant group of people who, by and large, don’t know each other and who live all over the world? Fortunately, all of the people knew at least one other person, which has helped. And modern technology makes this easier than you might think. Since last summer, we have been meeting monthly via Skype. Occasionally someone won’t be able to use video due to connection issues, but generally we can all use audio and several are on video.

Being on Skype isn’t like being in the room with each other! However, after meeting together this way for a year, about an hour and a half each month, we have developed a bond with each other. Some have been able to see each other in person one or more times along the way, which has also helped. We are hoping to be able to get together in person sometime next year. 

Creative Solutions

What can you do on Skype as a covenant group? Over the months we have been able to share about our own walk with the Lord, our families, our work joys and struggles, and other matters in our lives. We pray for each other, both on the call and in between. We know that there are people who are in similar situations who can understand us without a lot of explanation. Several people have had conversations in pairs between calls. With time we have reached the point that it seems that we are really together on the call—especially when everyone’s video works! 

Over time a couple of people have had to drop out, with good reasons. We have added a person. And I have been able to connect two new female pastor-missionaries to each other so they can start a similar group.

So what about you? Are you missing out on something that is not only required of pastors, but that is vital to our well-being? Just be creative and ask for help from Anna Kent if need be, but get in a group. If a bunch of mission workers can do this across the miles (and oceans), you can do it as well!