When Team Formation Goes Well In Church

Advent UMC Staff Covenant

Every congregation and its leaders are a cultural community. In congregations, we are always shaping, creating and refining our culture. So, we can do this covertly and unintentionally, or we can embrace the opportunity, making strong moves which shape our collective identity and experience as congregations. Developing a covenant for staff teams and lay leadership teams is an excellent way to proactively shape and influence your congregational culture over time.

Thanks to the pastors and staff of Advent United Methodist Church from Greenville, SC for permission to share this staff covenant, found at the link above. Looking at this example, one can easily imagine a staff covenant for the lay leadership team, though it would likely be shorter.

The following are insights rising out of our experiences in leading church staffs and lay leadership teams to develop covenants for guiding their collective ministries.

• Timing – We first started working with Advent to develop a covenant when multiple staff people were in transition, deciding to put this work on hold until staff positions were filled again. Times of high transition or tension are not the best timing for engaging staff or lay leadership team covenant work.
• Aspirational – The goal is to live into the covenant over time. The covenant does not describe your current staff or lay leadership team culture, instead holding up a future vision to move towards.
• Implementation – There are so many ways to engage the covenant, living into it over time: “Catch” someone embodying one action in the covenant, identify disciples in the congregation who are living part of the covenant and then thank them, choose one area to collectively strengthen for a season, ask your team for support and accountability as you work to practice one part of this covenant, consecrate the covenant in worship.

When staff or lay leadership teams develop a covenant, those on the team recognize this church takes spiritual leadership seriously. The call to serve in leadership is heightened, giving dignity to sometimes thankless ministry. Churches who are clear about their role in God’s mission set up their teams to identify covenants which are congruent with the congregation’s calling. Churches unclear about their calling leave teams making their best guesses about the content of their working covenant.

Since we are always shaping culture, let’s be proactive, aspiring to become the disciples gathered in congregations who join God’s world reclamation mission.

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA