boundaries, pastors, church board, elders, deacons, staff, relationships, family, community
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Creating Safe Ministry Relationships

Questions to help pastors establish healthy boundaries with others.

Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Part 4


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4|Part 5 | Part 6|Part 7

The relationships of church members and pastors can often be a list of boundary violations. Tom Rainer lists some of them in his blog:

Seven Sentences That Make Pastors Cringe

Five Common but Unreasonable Requests
Church Members Make of Pastors

Eight Indicators That Pastors Are Expected to Do Most of the Ministry

For this post we will focus on relationships from the perspective of the pastor, but church leaders and staff can adapt much of this material to their own ministries. Leave a comment below on your ministry role and what boundaries help you relate to others.

Here’s a list of questions to help pastors establish healthy boundaries with others:

Relationships With the Church Board

  • What are the mutually established rules for how we behave toward one another? Maybe you want to write a relational covenant or elder covenant.
  • What is out of bounds within board meetings?
  • In what ways may we offer criticism?
  • What are some wrong ways to offer criticism?
  • How will we maintain a spirit of mutual encouragement and edification?
  • How will we keep the focus on the work instead of making things personal?
  • What is the purpose of this board?
  • How will this board relate to the pastor? Is the pastor in agreement?
  • What will this board do to ensure a good working environment for the pastor and staff?
  • How will the board express trust, grant authority, and allow freedom for the pastor and staff?
  • What are the limits of the board’s authority?
  • What boundaries do board members need to establish in all four areas? (See the other posts in this series.)

Relationships With Church Staff

  • What are the limits of the pastor’s authority with regard to staff?
  • How will the pastor support the staff and provide for the needs of their jobs?
  • How do the various staff positions relate to one another?
  • What can be done to ensure each staff member is serving in their area of greatest gifting and competence?
  • How will we help staff members be satisfied in their jobs?
  • What freedoms do we need to grant to staff? Are we demonstrating trust in them with regard to their responsibilities?
  • What actions, attitudes, or language is inappropriate in this workplace?
  • Are all the church staff on the same page with regard to these boundaries?

Relationships With other Church Leaders, Boards, or Committees

  • How will the pastor relate to the deacons, other committees, or church leaders?
  • What can only the pastor provide for these groups?
  • How can the pastor empower these groups in their ministries?
  • Where does the pastor need to be careful about overstepping his boundaries?

Relationships With the Rest of the Congregation

  • How can the pastor maintain both connection with the congregation and separation from them when needed?
  • When will the pastor be unavailable to the congregation?
  • When will the pastor be fully available to the congregation?
  • How will the pastor and congregation communicate with one another?
  • How can a member of the congregation reach the pastor?
  • What are the pastor’s responsibilities to the congregation?
  • How should the pastor deal with unreasonable expectations from the congregation?
  • What is out of bounds for the congregation when talking with or about the pastor?
  • How will the pastor discern the needs of the congregation?
  • How will the pastor relate to the spiritually healthy versus the spiritually needy?

Relationships With the Pastor’s Family

  • How can the pastor prioritize his family above the church?
  • When is the pastor’s “down time” with family?
  • How can the pastor remain unavailable to the church when on a family vacation?
  • What are the unique needs of the pastor’s spouse?
  • What are the unique needs of the pastor’s kids?

Relationships With the Surrounding Community

  • How will the pastor connect with people outside the church?
  • What relationships must the pastor maintain?
  • How will the pastor relate to friends outside the church in his community?
  • How should the pastor relate to other pastors and churches in the community?
  • Who are the key influencers in the community? How should the pastor relate to them?
  • Who are the outcasts in the community? How should the pastor relate to them?

Other Questions

  • What is the proper priority of your relationships? (I’ll give you a hint 1. God 2. Self-Care 3. Family . . .)
  • What other special relationships need to be maintained?
  • Is there room in the pastor’s schedule for him to have fun with friends?

In my next post, I’ll begin exploring the boundaries of responsibility by looking at Minimum Expectations.

5 comments on “Creating Safe Ministry Relationships

  1. Pingback: A Pastor's Relationship with God and Self — The Pastor's Soul Center

  2. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Putting It All Together (Part 7) | The Pastor's Soul

  3. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Limit of Authority (Part 6) | The Pastor's Soul

  4. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Minimum Expectations (Part 5) | The Pastor's Soul

  5. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Relationship with God and Self (Part 3) | The Pastor's Soul

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