Robert’s Rules of Order is the most widely used manual of legislative procedure in the United States. It governs the meetings of a wide range of organizations, including church groups. They were designed to assure that meetings are fair, efficient, democratic, and orderly. First published in 1876 they are imbedded in the way many groups make decisions. Have you, for example, ever heard someone second a motion? This practice comes from Robert’s Rules of Order.
While Pastor Search Teams may implement some or none of Roberts Rules, I have observed several rules or guidelines that are best put into play. I initially discovered them while being trained as an interim pastor. Tom Harris and Interim Pastor Ministries came up with the idea of a “Search Team Covenant.” I have tweaked this covenant and used it ever since in my work with pastor search teams. Here it is:
Before the Lord and together with my fellow SEARCH TEAM members, I enter the following covenant:
A COVENANT OF OPEN, LOVING COMMUNICATION: I now commit to speaking in love and acting with forbearance toward my fellow team members. I also recognize the importance in this group of speaking openly and honestly. As I exercise the privilege of thinking aloud to help sort out my thoughts and feelings, I will give that same privilege to others without taking offense.
A COVENANT OF TEAM UNITY: I now commit to being loyal to my fellow team members. When the group has made a decision, I will support it although I may have voted against it. I will not criticize the activities of the team or any individual member unless it is face-to-face. If a problem develops between another Search Team member and me, I will faithfully follow the steps set forth in Matthew 18:15-17.
A COVENANT OF CONFIDENTIALITY: I now commit to holding in confidence the privileged information I receive because of my position on the Search Team. This includes the discussions in team meetings.
A COVENANT OF FAITHFULNESS: I now commit to serving faithfully on the Search Team. I will arrange my schedule as best I can so that I can attend meetings regularly. If something should arise that will keep me away, I will notify the leader.
A COVENANT OF INTEGRITY: If the time comes when I can no longer carry out this covenant, I will resign from the Search Team without causing strife and dissension.
If these rules or guidelines look good to you and your team, you may choose to copy and paste them onto church stationary under the heading “Search Team Covenant.” Before distributing a copy to each member of your team, be sure to add a line towards the bottom of the page for a signature and date. Then read through the document as a team and invite each member to sign his or her copy.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, as we work together may we live in covenant with one another.
ChapterNext is a pastor search and church consulting firm led by Rev. Sam Hamstra. They assist congregations through a handful of services, including staff development, weekend worship workshops, leadership retreats, and ministry reviews (vision and mission statements, budgets, building renovation, and marketing plans). These services grew out of ChapterNexts’ founding purpose which is to help congregations turn the page so that they can begin writing new chapters of dynamic and life-transforming ministry.