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Team covenants: Build trust with other church leaders

By W

The creation of a covenant can help any committee, staff or ministry team enjoy healthy and holy relationships.


We put the “fun” in dysfunction!
If you haven’t noticed by now, life is a contact sport. Every day, we bump into one another’s ideas, egos or spirit. Patrick Lencioni’s bestselling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, reveals problems that people in the corporate world experience as they try to work together. These dysfunctions are:

  • Absence of trust
  • Fear of conflict
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Lack of commitment
  • Inattention to results

Now, let’s be honest. The church is not immune to these dysfunctions! Some of the worst conflicts can happen in church meetings … or even worse, in the parking lot after the meeting! We are like porcupines gathered in a snowstorm: We need each other to keep warm, but we can be prickly.

There is hope!
The creation of a team covenant can help overcome dysfunctions by providing a foundation for trust. Remember, covenants are God’s idea! Just as covenants can be anchors for our faith in God, they also can protect our relationships with one another. Writing down the actions that will build trust among people enables the team to thrive and work in a healthy environment.

How to build a team covenant
It is crucial for everyone on the team to participate in creating a covenant that makes sense to the group.  These simple questions can get people talking about the behaviors that build trust. As people respond, record their answers on a white board or poster.

  1. Of all the people you’ve ever encountered, who is the best leader? Why?
  2. Of all the teams on which you’ve ever participated, what was the best one? Why?
  3. What would it take to make this group a great team?

Once you have your list, take the answers and prepare six to eight statements that are important to the team. Consider these questions:

  • What is the team’s primary purpose?
  • How will the team handle conflict? (Matthew 18:15 is a start!)
  • When is it OK to be absent?
  • How often will we pray for one another?

A sample team covenant
Covenant for the First United Methodist Church Trustees Committee

1. We seek to be faithful to the mission of The United Methodist Church in making disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.

2. We seek to offer First United Methodist Church a united team that engages in honest discussions where we listen to one another, disagree agreeably, maintain confidentiality and have each other’s back.

3. We seek to make the Trustees Committee meetings a priority by attending unless we are sick or out of town. If we have to miss, we will notify the chairperson in advance. If the committee doesn’t hear from someone, we will call and make sure they are OK.

4. We will meet the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m.

5. We will pray for each other once each week.

6. We will handle conflicts biblically. We will start conversations with questions and seek to understand one another’s perspectives. The Bible (Matthew 18) serves as our guide to resolving conflicts.

7. We will fulfill our responsibilities as outlined in The Book of Discipline.