Like many of you, I'm part of the leadership team of our local church. As a Servant Team (that's what we call our leadership group), we've been re-exploring our covenant together. Many of you will already be familiar with small-group covenants or agreements. There are many versions of covenants, however, most all of them include these basic components:
- Why we exist (life-change, Bible study, task group, fellowship, etc.)
Let's be clear–the values behind the covenant are far more important than the covenant itself. Personally, I don't think having a written covenant is much better than having a verbal one (unless your memory-challenged, like me). The key is having values, expectations, and mission defined and understood ahead of time so that–as time goes along and issues come up that leave everyone with that "what do we do now" blank stare–you have a clue as to why you are all together in the first place!
And hopefully, re-orienting around that original covenant will keep your group headed in the right direction.
In the context of a leadership-team small group, these basic components still apply. However, the "catch" to a leadership-team covenant is that not only does the covenant have bearing on how the leadership group behaves, but it has a trickle-down impact on the folks who are being led by these leaders.
Here's an example: If I promote the value of everyone in my small group having an accountability-partner relationship with another person, I may be able to create some internal motivation within the group–possibly even to the point where accountability relationships are added to the group covenant. But as soon as someone asks, "Does the church leadership have accountability partners?" the value behind the practice of having an accountability partner will either be dramatically diminished or enhanced, depending on the answer.
So here's what I'm currently taking away from the discussions around my own Servant Team covenant: make sure you have your most basic components of "church life" built into your leadership covenant/agreement, so that it sets a baseline for your small-group covenant/agreements.
Otherwise, things could get a little sticky.