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Shaping Your Values

Last week I began to address the definition and purpose of values and why describing the values that shape your church is so important.  Values are the shared convictions a church holds to; they are the common heartbeat of a congregation that inform and drive the motivation for its missional and ministry activities. When describing your corporate values, it is important to distinguish those that are actual and those that are aspirational.  For example, I often find in many churches that they indicate evangelism is a value, but when they examine the behaviors and focus in the normal life of the congregation it becomes obvious it is more aspirational than actual.  This is something that can be changed and should be.  Every congregation aspires to be everything God calls them to be but sometimes fail to fully live up to that standard. Leaders, therefore, are tasked to discern what values their churches truly hold and what values they need to shape and develop in the congregation.  A few weeks ago, I attended a church where the pastor told me that one of the values they desired their church to embrace is that of joy. It was obvious that his demeanor was joyful and contagious.  Many members have picked up this value and greeted me enthusiastically and genuinely expressed, “We are so glad you are here! How can we be of help?”   This is simple example but illustrates that while values can be taught, in many cases, they are more caught than taught.  They come through in what gets celebrated and demonstrated by the leaders.  It is also important that the right values are pursued and communicated well and often to the congregation.  Stating and promoting them reinforces their importance and in time shapes the culture of the organization.  It is worth your time to discern, define and develop a set of core values that help prioritize your time and resources as a congregation.  If you need tools or help with this, then let us know and we would be glad to assist you.
– Dr. Gary Mathes