Is A Social Contract Right For Your Team?


When you hire a new employee, there’s usually a stack of paperwork to sign: typical federal forms, organizational codes of conduct, organizational manuals, and procedure standards. Has your church or organization ever considered developing and implementing a social contract?

So, what is a social contract?  In short, it’s an agreement employees make with each other on how to communicate and interact with one another. The people on your ministry team will communicate (let’s hope – otherwise, maybe we need to take a step back!), why not ensure that everyone has the same expectations? This can reach beyond paid church staff and influence volunteers or even committed church members. It builds trust and communicates a desire to have a positive environment where dialogue is welcome.

In developing your social contract, it’s important you get feedback from the people it affects, namely, the members of your ministry team. If this seems like a daunting task due to the size of your organization, ask your managers to gather what works and what doesn’t from their individual teams. Having everyone’s perspective, regardless of their position is key to ensuring the social contract works effectively across the board.

Accountability is built into the social contract. Everyone from the head of an organization to the volunteers must believe in it, or else it won’t work. When everyone on the ministry team knows what’s accepted and encouraged and what isn’t, it allows freedom for anyone to chip in if someone isn’t acting in accordance. If your social contract calls for positive talk and keeping negative, pessimistic commentary aside, situations when this occurs can be dealt with objectively.

As your organization grows or changes, it’s important to measure how your social contract is working and adjust it. It’s also important to communicate to your ministry team that a social contract isn’t a behavioral modification document but instead, a valuable tool in ensuring everyone on your team really is on the same team.