Where can I find a sample policy regarding ministry standards and expectations for volunteers?
October 26, 2011
Updated May 7, 2013
10 comments 883 views
I am looking for a good sample policy for church volunteers that will set lifestyle and behavioral standards for our church ministries. Some things that I would want to include would be: membership in the church and active involvement in worship, moral standards, commitment to healthy communication, agreement to background checks, etc. Does anyone have a good sample policy listing the standards and expectations for ministry volunteers? Many thanks in advance.
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Background checks and the persons confession are extremely important. Ability to relay Gospel in coherent manner is also a plus. I don't know how you would evaluate or monitor lifestyle or moral behavior. Hope you find what you need.
Randy, you have mentioned some good stuff, but it might be useful if you discussed it as a council, rather than simply adopting someone else's policy. It will help you to focus on what is important and what is not, depending on the type of volunteer position or activity, of which there are many types. Some churches adopt a rule/guideline that to be a deacon, you may not drink alcohol or smoke. Many other churches do not. Some would say that divorced people and remarried ought not to serve as preachers or elders. Some would evaluate the inconsistency between behaviour and leading a bible study. In some cases the line of inconsistency is a bit gray, since how do we distinguish weakness from deliberate carelessness?
From a spiritual perspective, discussing this in instances where it may be a concern, will lead to confronting issues and perhaps a better context for spiritual admonition than a simple: "well that person doesn't qualify" type of environment. Hope this helps a bit.
Obviously we're not just going to blindly adopt someone else's policy; I was looking for some examples on which to build. I am in the midst of writing one now, and of course it will require council approval. The issue came up in council when there were cases of leaders involved in what I will vaguely call gross public sin or in a few cases boycotting church but still wanting to retain seats on committees or positions of leadership. I'm not thinking of the lists of vices that one had to foreswear, for example, at Wheaton College in the old days, some of which in the CRC where considered nigh unto holy virtues, if the smoke in the consistory room and the borrelje van Jenever after huisbezoek (drink of gin after the elder visit) was any indication.
Well, sorry. I didn't mean to imply that your council would not be involved. And of course your council should do whatever it thinks best in this regard; if it wants to look at what others have done, so be it. Only my suggestion to perhaps consider starting from scratch, might help to change the tenor of the discussion in a surprising way. They might take more ownership and might also give more thought to it. All the best.
I google searched on the subject and didn't come up with anything that really fit well with what you are looking for as a starting point. It would be great to add this sample resource under the web "Church Finance and Admin Resources" when you have an approved document.
Since I didn't get any good leads I am starting from scratch. I did see something from the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (http://www.cccc.org/members_sample_documents_view/html/17), but it was far too fundamentalist-oriented for our purposes.
DRAFT DOCUMENT, SUBJECT TO REVISION
This is what I have so far; constructive feedback welcomed. We will discuss it tonight as a council.
Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church
Ministry Volunteer Standards and Covenant
Created October 26, 2011
Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church values its ministry volunteers. As a Christian church that seeks to glorify God, to be obedient to his Word in Scripture, and to witness to the Christian faith, we also have certain lifestyle and conduct expectations of those who volunteer to lead and serve in the ministries of our congregation. Leaders and volunteers are expected to aspire to lead a Christian lifestyle, to witness to their faith, to maintain healthy spiritual practices, and to cultivate respectful standards communication. Ministry leaders and volunteers agree to adhere to these standards, and agree that when these standards are violated they submit to correction and, if warranted, removal from leadership or service in that ministry.
These standards apply to leaders and volunteers in all of our ministries, including Sunday school and catechism; Gems and Cadets; Teen Club and Youth Ministry; Coffee Break; music groups; and members of church committees. Where required, volunteers undergo background checks in order to comply with our Safe Church policy.
Leaders and volunteers are called to live a life worthy of the calling they have received from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:1) and to witness to the good news of salvation by the way they live their lives (Matthew 5:16). Activities that would constitute violations of this standard would include habitual drunkenness and drug abuse, marital unfaithfulness or premarital sex or cohabitation, use of pornography, criminal conduct, and physical or verbal abuse. Persons who are undergoing a separation or divorce may be asked to step back from their ministry for a time in order to focus on their own spiritual health.
Leaders and volunteers are expected to be professing members in good standing of Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church, with the exception of baptized members under the age of 18 who may not have yet made profession of faith. Any exceptions to this requirement must be approved by council. Leaders and volunteers are expected to regularly attend worship services. It is particularly important that catechism teachers and mentors understand and affirm the Reformed perspective on the Christian faith.
Ministry leaders and volunteers commit to supporting the leadership and staff of Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church. They also commit to maintaining Christian standards of grace and respect in their words and communication (Colossians 4:6). Leaders and volunteers commit to avoiding malicious gossip and slander, destructive criticism of other volunteers or the church leadership, and spreading rumors. Ministry leaders commit to maintaining appropriate confidentiality when people speak to them in confidence.
I understand and agree to the standards for ministry volunteers and commit to these standards
as a leader, volunteer, or committee member in ____________________________.
(ministry or committee)
Sorry I didn't see your question until today and since we are on a snow day here in Denver, I can't easily get to our Child Protection Files. In it, I have an application for Ministry Volunteers that includes some of what you are asking. We also have a policy statement that they are asked to sign. (I'll try to send it to you tomorrow.)
In our training session each fall, I mention the "promises" that the Council makes to the volunteers and then ask them to make promises of their own. That way, volunteers know that there is a two-way covenental nature to this document. For instance, Council promises to provide the resources necesary for them to do their work and promises to pray for them. (Your document uses the word covenant, but it doesn't say what the Council's role in that covenant is.)
I'm happy to share our documents with you as we received help from others in writing them and it's a good thing to share!
I'd also like permission to borrow from you as you've done a great job in being both clear and kind in setting your expectations.
You may want to clarify the word "may" in the last sentence of "personal lifestyle." I agree that you should retain that right to ask someone to step aside, but the Council (or Consistory) should consider ahead of time what situations would warrant a restriction in ministry leadership and what situations would get a "pass." Ironically, the folks in these situations who don't think they need to take a break are often the ones who do need to step back and the ones who think they are going to cut out of the life of the church are the ones who might need to be re-affirmed in their roles in church life.
We recently encountered this situation when a Ministry Leader went through a divorce. This person came to me in tears because they assumed that--in addition to all the other losses that accompany divorce, they had also lost the privilege of participating in a ministry that they loved. In this case, the Elders were unanimous that the person be affirmed in lthe ministry role--knowing that pastoral care and mutual discipleship was happening within the other leaders of the group.
Our church also has different standards for Ministry Leaders and Ministry Volunteers. We require church membership for Leaders, but not for Volunteers. In recent years, God has sent people to our church family who have gifts and willingness to serve, but who do not come from a tradition where church "membership" is a high value. We invite them into service (under the supervision of Ministry Leaders) while we continue conversations and classes toward the goal of membership.
Good work on your draft and I hope it helps in fostering health and spiritual growth among your volunteers!
P.S. Are Council members also required to sign the document?
Randy, I think your document shows promise. I hope you had a discussion with your council before you presented it to them, in order to encourage them to be pro-active, rather than just re-active to your document. Just a couple things perhaps missing: you did not mention homosexual activity, which might slip thru the wording of the document. Also not included are theft and dishonesty.
You might want to consider the impact on other ministries such as church maintenance, cleaning, serving meals and coffee, clerical, bulletin editor/typist, foreign mission trips, etc.
Thanks for this questions. Please look at the Code of Ethics for volunteers from Community Reformed Church. I wrote about it for the Network here. Maybe you can find it useful.
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