Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Covenant Monkey

We began our high school small groups this past week, and I wanted to start off the school year right. I'm one of the leaders of the sophomore boys group, who are an eclectic and hilarious group of young men. My fellow small group leader--an incredible volunteer named Nate--and I wanted to set the tone as a bit more serious and dedicated, yet maintain the fun we've always had as a group.

So we cut a monkey in half.

In the Old Testament, when people would make a covenant with someone else, they would cut animals in half and walk through the halves. (eg. God did this with Abram in Genesis 15). It sounds quite messy, but relationships always are. The image is a powerful one, essentially stating that we are two halves coming together as one. If I don't meet my end of the deal, then may I be like this mutilated animal.

Now, we couldn't go and cut a goat in half in the middle of a church classroom. I'm sure I'd get a phone call or two from that kind of stunt. But we can certainly bisect a stuffed monkey.

After a brief stint with a pair of scissors, our covenant monkey was in two halves on the floor. I read a passage from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14:
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
We spoke vision into their lives, calling them up to be men of God together, to make a covenant with God and one another to pursue Jesus and have Godly character this school year. Then I gave the opportunity for each guy to walk through the monkey halves and say one thing they were committed to pursuing this year. After a minute of awkward silence, one guy, Jordan, took the initiative and spoke beautifully simple covenant words, leading his peers as he committed to growing in the Lord. Others followed with their own personal commitments.

Maybe it was cheesy. Perhaps it felt strange to connect the beautiful Biblical idea of covenant with dismembering a stuffed monkey. But I doubt these guys will forget it. The covenant monkey will return every so often to remind us all of our commitments--to act like men, being watchful and strong, standing firm in the faith and living lives of love.


  1. consider this idea stolen! Awesome stuff man.

  2. Love it! Thanks for sharing. I'm doing a wedding this weekend and its helpful when thinking about the covenant they are making. Prob won't use a cut stuffed animal during the ceremony, but youth group could work great.