Boundary Awareness

All people are gifts from God. Those who are called to serve in authorized ministries—ordained pastors, licensed ministers, faith educators, student interns, etc—are given the treasure of a sacred trust. We have a responsibility to earn that trust and maintain personal and professional integrity. However, the landscape of authorized ministry is complicated. Pastors must navigate complex expectations, dual-roles, emotional residue, projection and much more.

In the United Church of Christ, a key piece of authorization is the completion of a two-day boundary awareness training. The training is less about rules, focusing more raising awareness. What does it take to honor the sacred trust church members give to their faith leaders? Where are the dangers zones? What are some of the best practices and wisest insights from across an array of professional disciplines?

I am one of the Boundary Awareness Trainers for the Massachusetts Conference, in the Central Association. We have been trained through the Faith Trust Institute and Marie Fortune. (The material cannot be presented here as it is copyrighted.) Both in my experience as one being trained, and as a trainer, I can testify that these lessons have opened my heart and soul to a deeper, safer, more joyful ministry. I know where I begin and end; I know where you begin and end; and with those boundaries in sight, I can reach out to you with the good news of Christ’s birth, life and resurrection.

Not too long ago, the landscape of digital church and social media was only a blip on the horizon. Now, it has become a kind of case study for applying, updating and reflecting on clergy ethics and professional boundaries. Here is a presentation I put together for our most recent training.