VERSION 1: ONE 3-HOUR WORKSHOP
PART ONE: WHAT IS COVENANT?
Scripture reading: What is covenant?
• Genesis 12:1-3 (God’s covenant with Abraham)
• Jeremiah 31:31-34 (new covenant: I will be their God)
• Luke 22:14-23 *see also Hebrews 8:1-13 (Jesus establishes a new covenant)
• Luke 24:13-35 (Emmaus Road)
1. Take time to reflect personally on the journeys described in these passages (whether internal or external). Which most resembles where you are on your journey today?
2. Around your table, begin the preparation process by asking the following questions: What do you understand “covenant” to mean? What is God’s covenant with us, and how has it been made new through Christ? How does God’s covenant intersect with (or impact) your current journey?
Sacraments and standards reading: Covenant community
• Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 21
• Excerpt from Sacrament of Baptism
• Excerpt from Sacrament of Communion
• Excerpt from Membership Liturgy
Around your table, discuss the following questions: How has covenant community impacted you? What is the purpose of covenant community? What is the difference between our covenant with God and our covenant with one another? How are these two covenants connected? What are the benefits and challenges of covenant community?
Scripture reading: Covenant in conflict
• 1 Corinthians 1: 10-17 (“I belong to Paul, I belong to…”)
• 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (lawsuits among believers)
• Matthew 18:15-22 (confronting one another, and forgiveness)
• Acts 6:1-7 (complaints about neglected widows)
• Acts 11:1-18 (circumcised believers criticize Peter re: Gentiles)
• See also: James 4:1-12, Philippians 3:15 (Acts 15 will be used later in the process)
1. Take time to reflect personally on a time that you have experienced conflict in covenant community. Many of us have seen relationships or communities divide over conflict. When have you seen this (division) done in a healthy way? When have you seen people stay together and “work it out”?
2. Around your table, discuss the following questions: What are we to do when covenant communities experience significant differences and disagreements? Be creative! With your group, list as many responses to conflict as possible.
PART TWO: BIBLICAL UNITY
In this section we will be considering question #1: How do we understand the biblical calling to live together in a unity of fellowship and love for one another?
Read two of the following:
• Philippians 2:1-18
• John 17
• Declaration for Ministers of Word and Sacrament
• Excerpt from the Order for Installation of Elders and Deacons
1. Where in these readings do you see points of our biblical call to unity?
2. What is your understanding of biblical unity? How would you define it? 3. What is it, and what is it not?
4. What is the impact of biblical unity on you, on the church, and on the world?
5. What should biblical unity look like (or not look like) in the RCA? How do we do that?
PART THREE: DIVISION AND RESTORATION
In this section we will consider question #2: Are we willing to see the Reformed Church in America embark on a serious division, and what is our part in bringing reconciliation and restoration?
Read and respond
1. Read Acts 15.
2. Exercise: What is the impact of division?
3. What did Dennis Voskuil’s paper say about the impact of division?
PART FOUR: GOD’S INTENDED FUTURE FOR THE RCA
In this section we will consider question #3: What do we believe is God’s intended future for the Reformed Church in America?
• Philippians 1:3-11 (the one who began a good work among you)
• Ephesians 1:15-23 (Paul’s prayer for believers: wisdom and revelation)
• Ephesians 3:14-21 (Paul’s prayer: now to him who by the power at work…)
• Revelation 7:9-17 (Salvation belongs to our God);
1. How do these texts describe God’s intended future for the church?
2. How might these texts speak to God’s intended future for the Reformed Church in America?
3. Prayerfully imagine the future of the RCA. What do you believe God desires?
In small groups, share together:
1. Your individual reflections
2. What might God be asking you to do to participate with God’s intended future for the RCA? Get personal: what am I willing to do to partner with God’s purposes?
Pray together in small groups
NEXT STEPS and CLOSING
• Ephesians 1:15-23 or Ephesians 3:14-21