- Slides: 28
Behavioral Covenants: Holy Manners
• “In the church, I have experienced people at their very best. . . and at their very worst. ” • “Being part of our congregation through the years has been a source of unexpected blessing. It has also been the source of harsh judgment, disappointment and, at times, loneliness. ” What’s been your experience?
John 13: 34 -35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. We are to be an alternative community to the normal world
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. . Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. I Peter 2: 9 -12
Ju d g m e n t a l
G o ssi p y
B u l l yi n g
What do normal 16 -29 year olds think about Christians? Anti-homosexuals 91% Judgmental 87% Hypocritical 85% Old fashioned 78% Too involved in politics 75% Out of touch w/ reality 72% Insensitive to others 70% Not accept other faiths 64% Boring 68% Confusing 61% The Fermi Project
A Community of Faith. . . • God’s people • A Kingdom foretaste • An alternative community to normal culture • The community of shalom • A hospitable, redemptive and safe space • Where people are learning to live life God’s way
Behavioral Covenant: A tool for becoming the community God calls us to be • A written document • Drawn up and owned by the congregation, • Describing positively how they wish to be treated and will treat one another, • As brothers and sisters in Christ, • A spiritual discipline practiced daily.
Developing a Behavioral Covenant • Involve as many people as possible. • Either start with leaders and give the congregation opportunity for feedback. • Or start with different groups and then merge with opportunities for feedback. • Without involvement there is no ownership!
Seek Scripture for God’s Guidance What sort of behaviors should characterize God’s People? – How are we called to treat one another as fellow disciples? – How are we to deal with conflict among us? – How are we to deal with sin among us? – How are leaders to treat people? – How are the people to treat leaders?
Matthew 18: 15 -17 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. ‘ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Colossians 3: 12 -17 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Ephesians 4: 1 -6 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
To what Holy Manners is Christ calling us? • Work in small groups of 4 or 5 • Describe the behaviors that you feel should characterize your congregation’s relationships • Be specific: what does being “respectful” mean behaviorally? • Let groups report and keep an ongoing list of what is said. • If necessary, have someone wordsmith the list and report back to the group later • Invite everyone to sign the document as a pledge to these Holy Manners
Holy Manner Essentials • Listening -- even when you disagree. • Giving your best; full effort to God’s mission. • Loyalty to the absent; no gossiping. • No put downs or sarcasm. • Being a team player; loyalty to one another & the group • Confidentiality
One Example • • At Community Church… We seek to build each other up and not tear down. We respect and honor the office of pastor and other lay leaders. We seek to communicate clearly and completely. We offer our opinions with charity and humility. We make positive investments in each others lives. We seek to discover what is best for our church as a whole, not what may be best for us or for some small group in the church. We accept disagreement, conflict and evaluation as normal and natural.
Another Example We covenant together (1) to deal with our differences in a spirit of mutual respect and (2) to refrain from actions that destroy the emotional and physical well being of others—actions that are inherently contradictory to the fundamental Christian precept to "love thy neighbor as thyself". As we live according to this covenant, the following principles guide our actions: – We will treat others whose views may differ from our own with the same courtesy we would want to receive ourselves; – We will listen with a sincere desire to understand the point of view being expressed by another person, especially if it is different from our own; – We will respect each other's ideas, feelings and experiences; – We will be non-blaming and non-judgmental in our attitude and behavior towards others; – We will communicate directly with persons with whom we may disagree in a respectful and constructive way; – We will place primary emphasis on where we share common ground rather than on differences and disagreements; – We will seek feedback to ensure that we have truly understood each other in our communications. By entering this covenant, we will affirm and support each other in our respective faith journeys.
Yet Another Example: Statement of Holy Manners We commit ourselves and will hold each other accountable to: • Keep God at the centre of everything we do; • Respect the worth of each individual; • Affirm people's right to hold and express differing opinions, assume best intentions, listen carefully to each other, without interrupting; • Strive for equal opportunity and encourage the participation of all; • Affirm the wisdom of silence, pausing from time to ponder what others have said and to discern the Spirit's movement; • Seek to understand what others are saying; • Be open to new ideas; • Respect the confidentiality of individual members and their stories; • Uphold and honor decisions that have been made; • Keep life in perspective by preserving a sense of humor; and • Hold one another in prayer.
Just One More: • Listen to each other. (James 1: 19) • Respect the Privacy of Those Who Confide. (Proverbs 11: 13) • Challenge each other with the truth. Be willing to confront when it is important. (Ephesians 4: 15 -16) • Deal with people directly; don't complain to others. If someone complains to you about another member, help that person follow this principle. (Matthew 18: 15) • Strengthen each other. (Ephesians 4: 29) • Be gentle with one another. (Galatians: 6: 1) • Do not speak ill of others in the fellowship. (James 5: 9) • Do not judge each other. (Romans 2: 1) • Pray for one another. (James 5: 16) • Confess One's Wrongs to Another. (James 5: 9) • Forgive One Another. (Luke 6: 38) • Freely participate in the Body of Christ according to our gifts and talents. (Matthew 10: 8)
Implementation • Following opportunities for feedback, invite everyone to commit to the covenant by signing it. • Publish it widely. • Look for opportunities to review and evaluate regularly. “On a scale of 1 -10, how would you rate your living into our covenant this last week? ” • Leaders must model being held accountable!
Calling “foul” when someone is way out of bounds • Anyone can call a serious foul. • The group stops immediately and attends to the infraction. • Gently share how and by whom Holy Manners are not being kept. • Person not keeping covenant should accept this as nondefensively as possible, apologize and promise to keep it in the future.
What is at stake? The reality of our discipleship as a faith community and the integrity of our witness in the world.