Behavioral Covenants

A Behavioral Covenant is a written document created by a community of faith, agreed to and owned by the community, and practiced on a daily basis as a spiritual discipline. It is a way of developing common language, common commitments, and an awareness of healthy behaviors that build community.

Each and every church benefits from creating and using a Behavioral Covenant.  To get started, click below to download Creating a Behavioral Covenant in Your Congregation, an excerpt from the UCC’s Resource, A Sure Foundation. Read it over. Share it with your pastor and leadership team and host a discussion together to make an action plan to begin creating one. Consider exploring the other resources on this page or attending an upcoming webinar to learn more about creating Behavioral Covenants.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do you do with a Behavioral Covenant?

Once created, the Behavioral Covenant should be a common part of the church’s life. Read the Covenant at the opening of board meetings to set the tone. Use the Covenant’s words in liturgies for worship. Create learning opportunities for people to practice skills essential to the Covenant. Add the Covenant to your webpage and social media and post it in big, bold print where folks can see it whenever they are in the church. After all, this is something to be proud of and a part of your church’s identity!

Picture the impact a Behavioral Covenant might have. Imagine your church. What might change if before every single committee meeting for the next year, your church re-read the line in your Behavioral Covenant that says “We commit to listening to one another’s stories and listening respectfully to others’ truths,” and then truly practiced it in those meetings. How would that commitment and practice shape the community going forward?

Is a Behavioral Covenant just church speak for "rules"?

Covenants are relational and invitational. Whereas laws or rigid rules get written then enforced, and once broken, result in reprimand or penalty; covenants are clear in their expectations but when broken, result in accountability and invitation to change the behaviors so as to move back into healthy relationship and meaningful connection.

My church is always fighting about something. Will this help?

Behavioral Covenants are an opportunity for the community to outline its best values around communication and conflict. With practice, churches committed to one another’s wellbeing can change their church’s ethos. With time, what seemed only aspirational, can become second nature.

My church is healthy. Do we really need one?

 Yes! Writing one now will help your church continue to be healthy, communicative, and vibrant.

People greet each other at a party during Joint Annual Meeting 2019

Already have a Behavioral Covenant?

Great! Keep engaging in the practices of your Covenant and revisit the Covenant often to help the Church be healthy and vibrant. Explore other practices for Church health in A Sure Foundation.

Not sure if your church already has a Behavioral Covenant?

What a great time to ask your pastor and church leaders! If one was written a while ago but hasn’t been commonly used, host a conversation to review it and determine what your church’s next faithful step is. Perhaps it needs to be edited or reclaimed by the community before moving towards committing to the Covenant again.