Developing a Covenant of Right Relations can be a useful method for addressing disruptive behavior. It defines the guiding values and the boundaries regarding appropriate behavior for participants in the life of a congregation.
A Covenant is an important step in clarifying expectations when creating a safer environment for congregations. Agreeing to a covenant can be an extremely effective tool for setting guidelines and building trust. Agreeing to the ways in which the covenant will be used or applied is what makes it powerful and useful within congregations.
As with most of our policies and practices, a covenant of right relations is only effective if it is known, used, and practiced. You might consider starting board meetings by reviewing the covenant. Have it available on the table or the screen. Make it accessible. Intentionally check in with it. Use it before your annual meeting or other congregational discussions. The more it is referred to and used, the more likely folks will be able to name the behavior they are witnessing and experiencing.
Covenants of Right Relations are best developed when the trust level in a congregation is high, rather than in the midst of a conflict or crisis, when it will be seen as something being forced on the congregation. Preventative action leaves the congregation ready if a bully or other disruptive behavior occurs.
Covenants of Right Relations must have a means of enforcement if the covenant is violated. Disruptive Behavior Policies provide the basis for asking participants in a congregation to step back or step away when their behavior is out of control.