Our congregation is part of a denomination: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Every congregation in our denomination has the right and duty of self-governance. No one from “on high” tells us how to run the church, what we must believe or how to budget our money. We are connected to other congregations through a covenant.
Covenants are relational agreements, not contracts. There is give and take. I am called by this congregation to pastor the First Christian Church of Pomona and I have responsibility to relate to the wider church with which we are in covenant.
On May 5th and 6th, I am leading an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) retreat at First Christian Church of Torrance. Their pastor, Steve Fietz, is also trained in Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and attended our initial retreat. He could easily lead the retreat where he serves, but having a colleague in ministry facilitate affords him the space to participate in the retreat with the congregation he serves.
The training I received to lead AI was paid for by our Region, the governing body of a geographically contiguous group of congregations. I am not required to provide leadership as an AI facilitator, but I do it as part of the covenant relationship with our partner congregations. In a society in which people are more and more isolated, we choose to be connected. In a world in which people want to be sure they get their due, we choose to be covenantal and collaborative. We are counter-cultural in many ways. Of course, so was Jesus.