Do you know what distinguishes your church from all others?
Are you able to articulate those things that define a person’s experience at your church?
If your answer to those questions is “yes,” then you know your church’s core values. You can state with honesty and authenticity the things that provide a clear and complete picture of the everyday behaviors essential to your church’s identity.
As important as it is to define your core values, if the members of your church are not clear about them, those values are worth little more than the paper they are printed on. To that end, consider these three powerful yet simple strategies for instilling your church’s core values.
- Preach the language. Pulpits, lecterns, music stands, and high-top tables will always rank highly among the most effective means of communication, but all too rarely do preachers and teachers infuse their messages with the core values. For example, imagine that one of your church’s core values is “intimacy with Jesus.” When preaching through a series on spiritual disciplines, take advantage of the opportunity to instill your core value by using the phrase “intimacy with Jesus” in place of more common phrases that could be true for any church (such as “having a quite time” or “reading your Bible”). If a core value is “intimacy with Jesus,” those other things will be necessary, but they are not your core value in and of themselves. Preach the language you want your people to embody most.
- Live the language. The apostle Paul unequivocally states that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Too often we assume that mind renewal occurs in a classroom, when the reality is that much of our transformation takes place as we experience and share what we are learning. Assume one of your core values is “city renewal.” Church leaders who do not (1) provide opportunities for their people to experience and share city renewal, through such things as ministry to the homeless, and (2) provide chances to talk about those experiences miss out on powerful opportunities to instill their core values.
- Study the language. An often overlooked yet powerful opportunity for infusing your core values into the congregation is through a regular small group gathering for fellowship and Bible study. The problem is that these groups are often dependent upon volunteer leaders, people who often do not know or embody the core values to the same degree as the church staff. These leaders may not have the confidence to own your church’s core values, apply them to the texts being studied, and clearly communicate them to their groups. That’s why we recommend smallgroup.com, a custom Bible study tool that gives you and your group leaders access to a vast and growing library of studies you can customize for your group. With smallgroup.com, you can infuse the language of your core values into the fabric of every study your groups complete. Group leaders can be quickly and easily equipped with a study that truly speaks the language of your church and more deeply imbeds your core values into its people.
Core values that are not preached, lived, and studied don’t remain core values for very long. Drive them deeper and deeper, week in and week out, as your people gather, go, and grow.