Building Boundaries for Pastors

Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Part 7

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

Now it’s time to finally create some boundaries for the pastor and church board. 

Principles to keep in mind:

  1. Each person on the board must work through this process because some boundaries are personal and some are shared. Each team member needs to know their part.
  2. Shared boundaries must be mutually agreed upon by all parties involved.
  3. Each person involved in developing shared boundaries has equal authority. Each person has the right of veto. Shared boundaries must be negotiated until all are in agreement.
  4. Each person has the right to set their own personal boundaries. We do not have the right to judge or criticize another’s personal boundaries.

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

– Romans 14:4 ESV

Gather the answers to your questions from the previous four posts and let’s write each boundary. As you write, remember to let the Bible guide your answers.

Relationship with God and Self

What do I need to do to make sure I am properly relating to God and to myself?

This is a personal boundary, but it is wise to share with people you trust. Ask them to keep you accountable to what you want to do. The best way to write this boundary is by forming a rule of life – a daily rhythm of personal and spiritual practices designed to keep one close to God and personally healthy. Write out what times you will daily do each of the spiritual rhythms you discovered you need. (Prayer, study and meditation, physical exercise, mindfulness for emotional health, mental focus & strength, etc.)

Relationships with Others

What do I need to do to maintain healthy, respectful, and encouraging relationships with others?

This is a shared boundary. For each category (board, staff, congregation, family) you will need to negotiate these boundaries with others. Be sure they do not violate any of your foundational boundaries that relate to God and Self. Write out and regularly rehearse relational covenants with each group (at each meeting, monthly, or quarterly as needed).

Minimum Expectations

What are the minimum expectations that I must meet in order to continue in this ministry?

This also is a shared boundary where the pastor and board work through the expectations for each. When this is done properly, most of the minimum expectations will apply to all of the elders. Some, but not many, additional expectations will apply to the pastor. Do not put anything on the list that can easily be done by someone else. Be sure you do not burden the pastor with more expectations than one person can easily handle.

Maximum Limit of Authority 

Where does my authority end?

This shared boundary protects the pastor, the board, and the church. Remember, these should be mutually agreed upon and written down. Do not make these too restrictive, but be sure that they offer the necessary protection for all involved.

When the boundaries are all written down, they become a good job description. These boundaries can be the basis for ministry review and improvement. Remember that boundaries are not permanent; they may need to be renegotiated from time to time.

What thoughts, ideas, questions, or push-backs do you have in response to this series? Please leave a comment below.

Takeaways:

For the Church
Shared boundaries must be mutually agreed upon. If you force things on your pastor, you are treating him like your servant. He is God’s servant (as are you). Mutual respect, grace, and love are how boundaries are best formed.

For the Pastor and the Pastor’s Family
If you don’t have personal and family boundaries in place, it will be too easy to fall into people-pleasing behaviors that hurt both self and family. This will hurt the church and prevent the people from growing. Start with your relationships with God, self, and family! This will save your ministry.

Please, leave a comment below. I personally read all the comments and I try to respond within a day. Or we can interact on Twitter (@PastorsSoul) or on our Facebook page.

© Sean Nemecek, 2018. All rights reserved. Request permission.


Sean Nemecek, (M.Div. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is the director of The Pastor’s Soul, and pastor at First Baptist Church in Tustin, Michigan since 2001. A third-generation pastor, he grew up listening to pastors and their families talk about the realities of ministry. Now he wants to use this knowledge to bless the church. Sean is married to Amy, a poet and freelance book editor. Together, they have a 17-year-old son.


2 thoughts on “Building Boundaries for Pastors

  1. Pingback: The Limit of a Pastor's Authority — The Pastor's Soul Center

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

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