In the Spring 2012 issue of FGBC World magazine, Tony Webb, executive director of VisionOhio, a church-planting agency in the Buckeye State, shared how covenant relationships are at the core of how the ministry’s leadership operates. A portion of the article is reproduced below. To read the complete article, click here.
By Tony Webb
Fraternity – honoring each other. The Scriptures are full of texts that talk about how we are to relate to each other. There are scores of “one another” passages; passages that focus on our love for each other; passages that express how we are to relate to one another when we are not getting along very well.
Fraternity is a very important concept as I work to engage the formation of new Grace Brethren churches. Ministry can be toxic. It can be very damaging and hurtful. It was to Jesus and His disciples. The Gospels are full of examples in which Jesus was in difficult situations ultimately leading to His death (and resurrection). We have a High Priest who can sympathize with our difficult situations. Many situations we face are replete with hurt and pain; we also have many situations in which we enjoy great pleasure and kindness.
In my work in VisionOhio, I am blessed to have many expressions of fraternity that help keep me going, help me prepare for the fight and engage the spiritual battle.
My most significant expression of fraternity is in my VisionOhio ministry team or covenant group. In 2008 VisionOhio switched to a covenant group approach to doing ministry. That means is I am privileged to meet monthly with my ministry team in close fraternity. The purpose is to first relate to each other in life and, second, in ministry needs or demands.
When I say we work to meet each other in life, I mean we spend the majority of our time together talking about our lives and praying together about where we are, the struggles we are facing etc. Our covenant arrangement sets boundaries around which we relate. These boundaries are what move this beyond only accountability. These boundaries are the power for the impact. I open my life up to these men and them to me. The intuition this environment breeds is amazing. Our commitment is to stay open and honest. The impact is energizing and transformational.