How to Discover and Develop Core Values
The degree to which leaders experience success or failure in church planting depends on whether their core people share the same values.
See sidebar "Stating Core Values" |
From the church planters perspective, vision and strategy are critical to the vitality of the church. However, discovering and developing core values is also a key to successful church planting. A churchs values answer the fundamental ministry question: Why do we do what we do? Proper core values are foundational; they are the essence of what makes a great church. Tell me the core values of the church youre going to plant, and Ill tell you about your church.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CORE VALUES
Why are an organizations core values important?
1. Values determine a churchs ministry distinctives. No two ministries are alike. Some churches focus on biblical preaching and teaching, others on evangelism, and still others on counseling or the family. This is why it is acceptable to start churches even when there are other churches nearby. Different churches reach different people. The determiner is the essential values.
2. Values dictate peoples personal involvement in the church. Church planters can spare themselves and their churches grief by communicating their values to all who are considering becoming a part of the church. Communicate the values early in the life of the church and repeatedly throughout the life of the church. Encourage those with similar values to join. (I call this values alignment or a ministry match.) Encourage those with different values to look for a church that is more in line with their values.
3. Values communicate whats important. Values signal your ministrys bottom line and make it clear what you believe is Gods heart for your church. If a core value is evangelism, make it known.
4. Values help people embrace positive change. Changes in American society are having an impact on churches. Some of the changes have been good and some bad. The key question is: Does this change agree with or contradict the ministrys core values? Reject that which contradicts, and accept that which agrees.
5. Values affect the churchs overall behavior. Values shape the entire organization, determine the ministrys direction, and dictate every decision you make and every dollar you spend.
6. Values inspire people to action. The shared beliefs of leaders and followers are the motivators that energize people to take action. Values infuse ministry with meaning. They touch people at a deeper level that provides a sense of cause and brings significance to their lives.
7. Values enhance credible leadership. Many leaders, as well as their churches, are values-driven and the ministries they build reflect those values. As go the leaders, so goes the church. Leaders with good values build ministries of integrity.
8. Values shape a ministrys character. Values are the qualities that make up an organizations character. This character determines how an organization conducts its ministry.
9. Values contribute to ministry success. An organizations ingrained ownership and understanding of its core beliefs make it possible for its people to be successful in ministry.
DEFINING CORE VALUES
A churchs primary values are defined as its constant, passionate, biblical core beliefs that drive its ministry. This definition has five key elements.
1. Core values are constant. Core values change very slowly. Change usually takes from 2 to 4 years. This is why it is hard to revitalize an established church. It takes time to change peoples values. Consequently, its critical that you begin with the right values.
2. Core values are passionate. Vision is a seeing word; passion is a feeling word. Core values touch the heart and elicit strong emotions. They stir feelings that can move people to biblical, Christ-honoring ministry.
3. Core values are biblical. The true test of a credo or values statement is: Does it square with Scripture? The statement doesnt have to be found in the Bible, but it shouldnt contradict the Bible.
4. Core values are core beliefs. People use various synonyms for values: precepts, principles, tenets, standards, or assumptions. (Some of these terms may not equate with values.) Values are your primary or core beliefs. A belief is a conviction or opinion you hold to be true based on limited evidence or proof.
5. Values drive the ministry. Values are the deeply ingrained drivers behind the behavior of a church. This includes the decisions made, money spent, risks taken, problems solved, goals set, and priorities determined.
KINDS OF VALUES
We can refine the above definition by analyzing five different kinds of values a planted church may hold.
1. Conscious versus unconscious values. Most credo or values fall under the latter. Leaders must discover and articulate the churchs primary values so members may know why theyre doing what theyre doing. This begins with leaders discovering their own values, because their values will shape the values of the emerging church. Leaders must move their own values from an unconscious to a conscious state.
2. Shared versus unshared values. The degree to which leaders experience success or failure in church planting depends on whether their core people share the same values. Shared values foster high levels of loyalty, provide a consensus over key decisions, promote a strong work ethic, and reduce levels of stress. Make sure people who join your team have the same values.
3. Personal versus organizational values. I ask my pastoral students to discover their organizational beliefs before they join a ministry. Those who take an established church must discover that churchs credo and make sure their values reasonably align with that churchs values. Otherwise, the honeymoon will be short-lived. Church planters, on the other hand, bring their personal values to the planted church. Their values will become the churchs organizational values. Thats one of the advantages of church planting.
4. Actual versus aspirational values. Actual values are the beliefs that a church or church planter owns and acts on regularly. Aspirational values are not presently owned, but the church or church planter desires to attain to those values. It is important that a leader distinguish between the two because a leader risks losing credibility when drafting a values statement. For example, to state that a church values evangelism, but no one is being saved, hurts the churchs integrity. Does this mean that a church cant include aspirational values in their values statement? (See sidebar for answer.)
5. Good versus bad values. Every ministry will have good and bad values. Bad values are beliefs such as compromise, prejudice, intolerance, or the abuse of power. It is important for the church to become aware of bad values and change them.
Church planters determine the core values of their church by discovering their own core values. Several techniques will assist you in values discovery.
- Brainstorm with other church leaders to uncover key beliefs. Record the results on a sheet of paper.
- Collect and study various value statements or credos of other churches. Appendices AC in my book, Values-Driven Leadership, provides samples.
- Use the storyboard process to discover your vital values. This is the process I use when I work with churches to help them discover their values (Advanced Strategic Planning, pages 3032).
- Take the following abbreviated Core Values Audit.
CORE VALUES AUDIT
Rate each of the core values below from 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. Be very stingy with assigning 5s.
__1. Godly servant leadership
__2. A well-mobilized lay ministry
__3. Bible-centered preaching/teaching
__5. Creativity and innovation
__6. World missions
__7. Passionate evangelism
__8. Authentic worship
__9. Intercessory prayer
__10. A well-kept facility
__11. The status quo
__12. Strong families
__13. Cultural relevance
__14. Lost people
__15. Warm fellowship
__16. Biblical community
__17. Social justice
__18. Faithful service
__20. Civil rights
|List the core valuesno more than 10that received a rating of 4 to 5.|
DEVELOPING CORE VALUES
Once youve discovered your values, develop them. This involves writing your values statement or credo. Publish this credo and make it available to those who are a part of or desire to be a part of your ministry. There are numerous ways to articulate a values credo (see Appendices AC in Values-Driven Leadership).
A key concept in church planting is vision. Vision is important. However, of equal if not greater importance are ministry values. As a church planter, discover, discuss, develop, refine, and display your ministry core values. God will use this in your ministry to have a significant spiritual impact in the 21st century.
| See sidebar "Stating Core Values" |