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The Conversation Before the Conversation

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Presentation on theme: "The Conversation Before the Conversation"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Conversation Before the Conversation
The Practice of Behavioral Covenants






7 Connecting… Name Name and location of church Role at church
How many years have you served there? What is one expectation you have for this workshop? Do you have any pets?

8 The challenge before us
The journey of vitality is both adventurous and treacherous. That is when a behaovrial covenant really comes into play. What is a behavioral covenant?

9 The Physics of Vitality
vitality = change change = movement movement = friction friction = heat

10 Don’t get suckered into the myth
We can grow without change. We can change without pain.


12 Conflict is normal and natural
In leading your church to becoming healthy and missional, you are going to have some challenging conversations.

13 Values of Vitality Vitality may often come with conflict and opposition. Preparing for this challenge requires courage, hope, perseverance, wisdom, graciousness and training.

14 Values of Vitality Vitality is not just about rebirth; it's about reality - a current reality that requires an accurate and honest assessment. There is no vitality without reality.

15 Values of Vitality Vitality takes longer than planned, is messier than expected, costs more than originally figured and requires greater determination than once thought.

16 What happens when the church begins to grow?

17 Entropy Organizations tend to lose vitality rather than gain it as time passes. They also tend to give greater attention to what they “were” rather than what they are “becoming”. It is easier to look back into the past and smile on yesterday’s accomplishments than it is to look ahead into the future and think about tomorrow’s possibilities. Chuck Swindoll

18 2 Kinds of Spaces Reactive Space Balcony Space 18 18
Source: Ron Heifetz 18 18

19 Here we are, out on the balcony
Here we are, out on the balcony. Now, once we’re out on the balcony, let’s not throw each other off of it! Because this is what sometimes happens in congregational business meetings – I know, I’ve been there. It’s very important that once we’re out on this balcony, we don’t have fisticuffs and start throwing each other off the balcony! 19 19

20 What is a Behavioral Covenant?
The conversation before the conversation. The conversation about how you are going to have the conversation on vitality. These conversations need to be civil, compassionate and Christ-honoring.

21 Midwest Conference video toolbox:

22 What is a Behavioral Covenant?
The conversation before the conversation. The conversation about how you are going to have the conversation on vitality. These conversations need to be civil, compassionate and Christ-honoring.

23 Conversation Conversation implies back-and-forthness, several voices engaged in considering, exploring, discussing, and enjoying not only the subject matter but also one another’s company. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

24 Name that picture

25 The components of a simple conversation

26 Behavioral Covenants Holy Manners for a Faith Community
A behavioral covenant is a written document developed by leaders, agreed to and owned by its creators and practiced on a daily basis as a spiritual discipline. The Covenant answers the question, “How will we behave (how will we live together?) when we don’t understand each other and when we don’t agree?” Gil Rendle Behavioral Covenants in Congregations 26

27 Good Behavioral Covenants are Based in Scripture
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. Colossians 3:12-14

28 Guidelines for Loving Relationships and Values to Guide Our Interaction
Colossians 3:12-14 At the Evangelical Covenant 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, completely, and directly. We offer our opinions with charity and humility. 28 28

29 Guidelines for Loving Relationships and Values to Guide Our Interaction
We make positive investments in each others lives. We believe the best in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. 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. We are committed to being inconvenienced for the sake of the gospel. Question: What do you like about this Behavioral Covenant?

30 “As we communicate, so shall we be.”
Lee O. Thayer Communication Theorist

31 In the various arenas of our life, we strive to be productive, to be responsible, to do the right thing, but in the midst of the demands of daily living, have we lost sight of how we treat each other, how we interact with those who disagree with us, how we understand our place in community? The hard work of learning to practice civility with each other is where others will most likely see our Christian witness, and through that witness, for better or for worse, they will decide the worth of what we profess. Daniel de Roulet, Covenant Companion, May 2010

32 Staff Behavioral Covenant First Covenant Church of River Falls, WI
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. --Hebrews 10:23-25 In seeking to follow and serve Christ together we will… 1. Make our weekly staff meeting a priority. 2. Not attack or embarrass one another. In public, we will support each other (criticism is private and praise is public). 3. Practice, as well as encourage & respect each other’s Rest & Rejuvenation times (i.e. phone calls, s, scheduling, etc.). 4. Pray for each other whether in times of sorrow or joy, want or plenty, challenge or celebration.

33 Staff Behavioral Covenant First Covenant Church of River Falls, WI
5. Encourage one another to cultivate Christian courtesy in all our relationships, supporting and encouraging redemptive and Christ-honoring actions when wrongs occur with those we serve and serve with. 6. Keep short accounts with one another. We will take the initiative to talk to one another when there are misunderstandings or conflicts. 7. Seek to make communication a priority with one another by responding in a timely manner to each other’s requests and being informed with each other’s ministries. 8. Celebrate the work God is doing in and through us by mutual encouragement. 9. Proactively seek training and equipping individually and as a team. 10. Close staff meetings with agreement on next actions, persons accountable for those actions and the time frame in which they are to be completed. ____________________________________________ Staff Signature On the Journey: Sharing Christ, Growing Together

34 Benefits Creates a foundation for civil, compassionate and Christ-honoring conversations. Generates momentum. Creates an early win on the pathway of vitality. Establishes a common language. Creates some measure of unity. Promotes a culture of candor and a climate of trust.

35 Benefits Provides a teachable moment.
Helps people reflect on their own family of origin. Creates a mentality before the reality. Improves the tenor of meetings. How do you measure what prevention prevents? Helps deal with seen but unnamed issues.

36 Benefits Provides an opportunity for people to stop and think about how they are treating others. Gives people an opportunity to repent. Synthesizes grace and truth. Promotes healing of old wounds. Invites others into compelling Christian community. Witnesses to the love of Jesus.

37 How to… How do you create a Behavioral Covenant and keep it before the people?

38 Anticipating resistance
What are some reasons people will give not to have a Behavioral Covenant? We are all Christians here; we don’t need a Behavioral Covenant.


40 Anticipating resistance
What are some reasons people will give not to have a Behavioral Covenant? We are all Christians here; we don’t need a Behavioral Covenant. All of this is in the Bible. We already wrote this into the Constitution and By-laws back in 1950. We don’t have time to do this.

41 Anticipating resistance
Why would people not want a Behavioral Covenant? The gig is up! Passive aggressive behaviors. Attacks from naysayers.

42 Passive aggressive behavior is the MO in many churches
Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of expressing your negative feelings in an indirect way — instead of openly addressing them. Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. Mayo Clinic psychiatrist

43 Signs and Symptoms of Passive Aggressive Behavior
A constant display of… Resentment and opposition to the demands of others Complaining about feeling underappreciated or cheated Procrastination Stubbornness Inefficiency Memory lapses Sullenness Irritability Cynical attitude Obstructionism Victimization Blaming Ambiguity

44 Passive Aggressive Behavior
Passive Aggressive behavior is a form of covert abuse. When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you've been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse. Cathy Meyer 1. Separate Passive Aggression From Normal Types of Behaviors Before you can manage passive aggressive behavior, it is important to separate this condition from laziness and procrastination that may exist within the normal realm of behavior. Most people may feel uncooperative or resentful at times if they find themselves locked into a promise under duress or excessive compromise. Passive aggression, however, is marked by a constant display of these of behaviors that have affected the individual's ability to complete basic responsibilities or carry on normal personal relationships. 2. Find the Causes of Passive Aggression Passive aggressive behavior is usually based upon fear, resentment or flat-out anger. In order to manage passive aggressive behavior, these feelings and emotions need to be identified and addressed. Psychotherapists can use counseling to identify the feelings and emotions that are the root cause of passive aggressive behavior. Behavior therapists, however, may be able to change passive aggression much more quickly by using behavior modification techniques to achieve results. 3. Talk it Out In many cases, passive aggression is not the result of a personality disorder or mental illness. In fact, passive aggressive behavior was recently taken out of the DSM-IV, the diagnostic manual used by mental health care professionals. Passive aggression is usually the result of a lack of communication between people and deep-seated feelings of fear and resentment that have grown slowly over time. If these behaviors are not addressed and managed when they first appear, the individual will recognize passive aggression as a solution to avoiding responsibility and will soon employ these tactics in all aspects of life. While a counselor can often help a person to recognize and manage these behaviors, a passive aggressive person may just need the opportunity to get "something off his chest." Passive aggression is usually the result of unexpressed anger or hostility and many of the passive aggressive behaviors may lessen or disappear if the individual is encouraged to express these frustrations in a meaningful and productive way. Read more:

45 Passive aggressive behavior stems from an inability to express anger in a healthy way. A person's feelings may be so repressed that they don't even realize they are angry or feeling resentment. A passive aggressive can drive people around him/her crazy and seem sincerely dismayed when confronted with their behavior. Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings the passive aggressive often feels that others misunderstand them or, are holding them to unreasonable standards if they are confronted about their behavior.

46 Passive Aggressive Behavior

47 Attack Strategies used by Naysayers
Fear mongering Fear mongering involves creating infectious anxiety, scaring others into believing that a good idea is far too risky to pursue. John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead, 4 Ways to Kill a Good Idea

48 Attack Strategies used by Naysayers
Death by delay Death by delay entails stalling an idea with never-ending questions, straw polls, and meetings—until the idea eventually loses momentum and peters out. John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead, 4 Ways to Kill a Good Idea

49 Attack Strategies used by Naysayers
Confusion Confusion consists of peppering a conversation with a stream of irrelevant facts and convoluted questions, making it nearly impossible for the innovator to keep the discussion on track. John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead, 4 Ways to Kill a Good Idea

50 Attack Strategies used by Naysayers
Ridicule Ridicule is a direct attack on the character of the person who proposed the idea, creating indirect doubts about the idea itself. John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead, 4 Ways to Kill a Good Idea.

51 Realistic expectations
A Behavioral Covenant is not the cure-all for passive aggressive behaviors or attacks from naysayers. However, the process of creating a Behavioral Covenant provides an opportunity for new patterns to be formed that are civil, compassionate and Christ-honoring.

52 Guidelines For Creating a Behavioral Covenant
The best time to create a Behavioral Covenant is when the sun is shining, not when the rain is pouring. Go slow to go fast. Keep it short, simple and to one page (no more than 7 – 10 statements). Present an over-arching Scripture verse or ground each statement with scripture. Use samples, but create your own version to make it relevant to your context.

53 Guidelines For Creating a Behavioral Covenant
Anticipate resistance/indentify traps…respond with a non-anxious presence. Be intentional and creative to inculcate the Behavioral Covenant into the normal and natural life of the congregation. But don’t over do it! Preach a sermon series using one statement per Sunday. Culminate the series with a communion service. Plan the work and work the plan. Bathe the process in prayer.

54 Guidelines For Creating a Behavioral Covenant
Remember that the Behavioral Covenant is a living document, not a legalistic code of moralism. It is not something “to live up to” but “to live in to.” The process is more important than the product. There is always a mentality before a reality. The Behavioral Covenant deals with behavior not motives. Rename it a “Relational Covenant” if that works for you.

55 Guidelines for Creating a Behavioral Covenant
Ask the Vitality Team to map out the process and recommend it to the Leadership Team or Council. See how the Behavioral Covenant fits into the overall Congregational Vitality Pathway Think civil, compassionate and Christ-honoring conversation. Use the promo DVD from the Midwest Conference.

56 Afternoon Panel Session
Q and A Wrap up

57 The Conversation Before the Conversation
The Practice of Behavioral Covenants

58 What is your one take away?
Take a minute to reflect on all that we experienced here today. Write down your one take away. We want to hear from everyone.

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