A VITAL AND HEALTHY CONGREGATION KNOWS ITS CORE KINGDOM VALUES
Core Kingdom Values are those values that grow out of scripture and discernment about who God wants us to be. They shape the character of our congregation and in God’s mission through us show others who God is. They can be expressed in such terms as:
• “Loving our neighbor”,
• ” Showing compassionate care for one another”,
• ” Being reconciled to God and each other”,
• “Practicing peacemaking as another way of living”.
These are just a few of many possible values. Most congregations who are effective in their ministry and mission know who they are called to be and have named the key kingdom values that will help shape their vision and mission. How many values should a congregation focus on? It does not have to be the same for each congregation, but likely not more than eight or ten values.
I consulted with one not-for-profit church organization that has finances as its primary ministry focus. After careful, prayerful thought they came to believe these additional key core values were important to whom they were called to be:
• “Act with integrity”,
• “Lead with compassion”,
• ”Provide competitive services”,
• “Encourage mutual support”,
• “Model social responsibility”.
These values shape their character and planning for fulfilling their assigned ministry. It is a part of their identity.
Getting our core values surfaced and expressed gives focus to who we believe God wants us to be as a congregation. We might not hit the mark every time in the practice of these values; but we are more likely to become what we hear God asking us to be, if we take time to discern and name those values.
The inverse is true as well. When we don’t search for the key Kingdom values that help clarify who we are called to be and keep them ever before us, we might just be practicing values that are not consistent with God’s call for our life. For instance, some negative values might be shaping who we are:
• “We exist for ourselves”,
• “ When the doors of our congregation are open all know they are welcome”,
• “ We love those who are like us but are uncomfortable with those who are different”,
• “Strangers are unwelcome”,
• “We exist for saints but sinners are not welcome”.
These are just a few examples of negative values that can keep a congregation from being the kind of congregation that God wants them to be.
We will be known to others by our choices and actions. Our choices and actions as a congregation reflect the core values that are a part of us. They are either discerned and named as Kingdom values or hidden but never explored or named. One thing is for sure core values named or not named will define our destiny.