Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Ministry

In this 10 minute training video my friend Chip Judd explains how to establish healthy boundaries in ministry. Have someone you’re mentoring watch the video and then follow the process below to reinforce the principles.  Or you may want to use it with your team.

Chip is a professional counselor who has been counseling individuals, marriages, and families for almost twenty years. His driving desire in is to see people experience and enjoy real freedom and lasting change.  To learn more about Chip go to or follow him on Twitter @chipjudd.

All Staff 03/09 – Boundaries, by Chip Judd from Seacoast Church on Vimeo.


Watch: Chip Judd’s video discussion on boundaries in ministry.

Journal: Think through the following questions and write your answers in a journal and be prepared to discuss these with your mentor.

  1. Write down two or three things that stood out to you the most from Chips teaching?
  2. Where do you have the most difficult time setting healthy boundaries? Personal life, relationship, Work, Spiritual life.
  3. Rate yourself on how easy or hard it is to say “no”. (1 – easy; 10 – hard) Explain your answer.
  4. Are there things you’re allowing inside your “circle” that is not your responsibility?
  5. Do you have any feelings of resentment toward anyone because you have allowed them to violate your boundaries?
  6. What makes it so difficult to set healthy boundaries in ministry?


Do the following activities to reinforce what you are learning about healthy boundaries.

Assess: In a journal write out a “Stop Doing” list.  Also look at your current job description and evaluate how well it matches what you are actually doing.  Write down adjustments you need to make.  Ask to meet and discuss this with your supervisor.

Practice:  Practice saying “NO”. Not for selfish reasons but for self–care and honesty. Monitor how easy, hard, successful or unsuccessful you are by keeping a journal of when you said “No”; how it felt when you said “No”; and what did you learn from saying “No”?

Plan:  Take 30 minutes to plan your week ahead of time. Decide ahead of time what you will say “Yes” to and what you will say “No” to. Use Microsoft Outlook or your daytimer to chart how you will spend your time this week.  Don’t forget to schedule family time.


Meet with your mentor or team to discuss the following questions:

  1. Where do you have the most difficult time setting healthy boundaries? Personal life, relationship? Work? Spiritual life? Your spiritual life? Your relationships? Your work life?
  2. Rate yourself on how easy or hard it is to say “no”. (1 – easy; 10 – hard) Explain your answer.
  3. What stood out to you the most from Chips teaching?
  4. How did you do with the “Experiences” above? Was it helpful? What did you learn?
  5. What are 3 or 4 principles that can help people establish healthy boundaries?

When It’s Just Not Working

Do you have a ministry program at your church that’s just not working?  At one time that program was somebody’s solution to a problem.  At one time it was an idea with promise.  At one time people believed in it enough to put time, energy and resources behind it.  You’ve invested in it but now it just doesn’t seem to be working.  The decision you now face is do I toss it or tweak it?  Before tossing it here are a few questions to think through:

  • Is it a Personnel problem?  Sometimes a program isn’t working right because the wrong person is leading it.
  • Is it a Systems problem?  Often it only takes a simple tweak of a system or a process to make drastic improvements to a program.
  • Is it a Logistical problem?  Perhaps it’s not working because it’s on the wrong night, wrong time, wrong location, too small a space, too large of a space, etc.
  • Is it a Communication problem?  It may be a great program that no one really knows about or understands. 
  • Is it a Competition problem?  Your church may be overprogrammed.  A classic example is the church who has Sunday School and Small Groups.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to run two programs that are very similar in nature and be successful at both.
  • Is it a DNA problem?  Very often we see a great program that works at another church so we adopt it and try to do it at our church only to find out it really doesn’t fit who we are.

Consider one of the programs that you’re currently frustrated with and run it through these questions.  Should you toss it or tweak it?  What questions would you add to this list?