The development of a team covenant and memorandum of understanding (MOU) is one of the most important parts of field preparation. This is also one of the most overlooked components of training. Teams should develop this document before developing their strategy.
Conflict will happen (e.g., Acts 15:36-41, Gal 2:11-14). While a team’s covenant and MOU will not remove all points of conflict, it will help the team avoid some significant problems and alleviate the stress to come. It does not remove the organic nature of a team but establishes healthy relational parameters. This is not a legalistic document. It is a liberating agreement based on love, concern for the gospel, and wise stewardship. It strengthens trust and friendships.
A good covenant and MOU addresses at least:
- theological, missiological, and strategic non-negotiables
- team vision and focus
- how conflict is to be handled
- how decisions are to be made
- training expectations before arriving on the field
- where the team is to live
- how team members exit the team
- skill development and language acquisition
- team life
- pastoral care
The best guidelines for developing a team covenant and MOU may be found in Dick Scoggins’ book Building Effective Church Planting Teams. Dick was gracious to grant permission for the use of his guidelines as an appendix in The Barnabas Factors.
Every team member signs the covenant and MOU. Team members keep a copy for themselves. The sending church keeps a copy too.
If you do not have one, then now is the time to develop it. A multitude of heartaches, misunderstandings, and problems could have been avoided with this simple tool.