An Example of a Covenant Between Pastor and Church

December 16, 2020

Not every church has a covenant, and many that do will define a covenant differently. Other churches might have a concept of membership but not have a covenant. The purpose of this article is not to stir up a theological debate but rather provide an example of a covenant between pastor and church.

Generally, a church covenant is a clearly stated way an individual member commits to the body and how the body, in turn, commits to the individual. As you commit to God, you commit to each other in the church. I believe some of the best church covenants focus on expectations. For example, the covenant at my church includes seven membership expectations: Worship, grow, serve, give, pray, seek unity, and share.   

I’ve found several examples of church covenants, but there are far fewer examples of a covenant between leadership and the church. When we revised our bylaws a few years ago, we included an additional covenant for pastors. 

I believe this covenant helps clarify the responsibilities of a pastor in addition to the responsibilities of membership. The church also needs to understand how to hold pastors accountable. Unmet expectations are often a source of tension between pastors and the church. When a clearly written covenant exists, there is less of a chance unmet expectations cause conflict. 

Here is our pastor’s covenant. I prefer the “I will” statements because they make explicit the actions and behavior expected of pastors.

 I commit as a pastor within the body of Christ to join West Bradenton Baptist Church and to fulfill the expectations of church membership. Additionally, I commit to the following expectations as a pastor:

  1. I will seek God’s guidance for West Bradenton Baptist Church in order to steward resources entrusted to the church in a way that gives God glory.
  1. I will shepherd, care for the church, and lead with grace, truth, and love.
  1. I will teach all of God’s Word at all costs.
  1. I will equip members of the church for the work of ministry. 
  1. I will protect the doctrine of West Bradenton Baptist, and I will guard the church against false teachers and false teaching.
  1. I will act in a way that is above reproach, making my family the priority of my ministry. I understand the way I live will affect the church I lead, and I will live in a way that elevates the reputation of West Bradenton Baptist Church. 
  1. I will lead the church in exercising discipline in a way that is gracious and loving, protecting the health of the church as a whole while guiding members towards reconciliation.

An additional covenant will certainly not solve all the problems that can occur in the relationship between pastor and church. But it’s a good starting point. Your expectations may be different than the seven listed for our church. Whatever you expect of pastors, and whether or not you desire a covenant, it’s a good practice to put them in writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

29 Comments

  • The example of the covenant between church and pastor is very helpful. This is one of a kind. Thank you!

    Would I be able to adapt and use this for our denominational churches? or is it copyrighted?

    Please let me know.

    Richest Blessings,

    John A. Peabody, Jr.
    Conference President
    Pilgrim Holiness Church of NY, Inc.

  • Curtis Bond says on

    As a pastor with over 30+ years I would add that a covenant with a church is no better than the character of the corporate church. We are witnessing a degrading or lessening of spirituality and ethics within the local church. Many church members including leaders do not hold the pastor in high regard as a man sent from God. Churches get petty and one never knows the plans that are hatched by members over coffee to oust the pastor. Having pastored numerous churches large and small since the 1980s I have had two churches that worked under the cover of darkness to oust me. Rules and covenants were in place but that meant nothing to these small groups of people who wanted me gone. My advice to any pastor is although a covenant is good, do not put your trust in a covenant. Jesus told his disciples he was sending them out as sheep among wolves. In a church there are sheep, wolves, goats and traitors. As someone who has been attacked and bitten several times and survived, if God does not have your back then a covenant is worthless.

    • Pastor Samuel Geiger says on

      How true this is! I am in the midst of real biting frenzy and discrediting agendas, and plain hate speech dividing an already small congregation.
      Lord forgive us and save the faithful from puffed up people.

  • this appears to me to not be a covenant . a covenant has two parties. what is the church promising the pastor. without both parties there is no covenant.

    • Sam Rainer says on

      Frank – You make a good point. I noticed a few others making a similar point in these comments. Our overall church covenant is between members. This covenant is meant to show how pastors are to be above reproach.

  • chris schwab says on

    Hello, I have meaning just to offer up an opinion on this post. Many of the posts and videos I have seen from you folks are good and practical. I think I take issue with this post however. A covenant is a two way agreement. The covenants God set up with individuals in the Bible were two way. Covenantal agreements are not always equal in responsibility. This post shows a completely one way covenantal agreement. Ministry is challenging enough. Where is the congregation held accountable in this covenant. Sorry to be critical, but I felt the need to say something

  • And what about the “we wills” from the congregation? This is a decent example of a covenant, but covenants are agreements between two parties. This could potentially reinforce the idea that the pastor is a “hired employee”.

  • Sonja Williams says on

    This is excellent!! I will share this with other church leaders.

  • Very profound!! More grace upon you

  • Akeem Walker says on

    I like the ideal of a Pastor/Church covenant, however, where is the Church’s covenant to the Pastor. Often times when differences occur (be it performance, or a deemed moral failure) the church ceases to keep it’s commitment to it’s Pastor.

    • Sonja Williams says on

      Great point. The members are also responsible for supporting the pastor and should also be held to some level of accountability to help build him up spiritually.
      It’s a relationship that everyone is a part of.

1 2