Growing up in Chicago, I have frequented countless hot-dog joints and ordered many a double dog with everything but onions. (Note that for Chicagoans everything does NOT include ketchup.) I have also visited many McDonald’s, including the original in Des Plaines, where I enjoyed a “Big Mac” and fries.
I find it interesting that McDonald’s does not serve hot dogs. A lot of people are making a lot of money selling hot dogs in Chicago but when McDonald’s expanded their menu many years ago they added breakfast, not hot dogs. Why not hot dogs? One can only conclude that their core values as a corporation did not support it.
Churches are a lot like restaurants. Every restaurant is in the business of serving food and every congregation is in the business of making disciples. Every restaurant serves but a portion of the people in its neighborhood and every congregation serves but a portion of its community; that is, both have a share of the market. Every restaurant’s market share is shaped by the manner in which it serves food and every congregation’s market share is shaped by the manner in which it makes disciples. Finally, the manner by which both the restaurant and the church serve others is shaped by their core values.
Core values explain WHY we do WHAT we do, the what in this case being the congregation’s mission. Core values are the convictions that determine your congregation’s priorities, influence your decisions, and are demonstrated by your behavior. They shape the life and ministry of your congregation.
In the book of Revelation, the apostle John shares with us a few of the core values of the First Church in Ephesus. He tells us that they valued hard work and perseverance. They also valued church discipline and, consequently, did not tolerate wicked people or false apostles.
While every congregation has core values, not every congregation has articulated them—or has an outsider, like an apostle, do so for them. Congregational leaders, however, will serve their search team well by identifying the core values of their congregation.
If you have yet to articulate your congregation’s core values, congregational leaders may do so through several different types of conversations:
- Answer this question: “What do you hope never changes here at First Church?”
- Share “success” stories about your congregation. They will reveal what you’re proud of, what is important to you, and what you view as markers of effective ministry.
- Develop your 30 second elevator speech by which you invite someone to visit your church. Your pitch to others says a lot about what you value about your church.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, may our values become clear from our conversation with your Word led by your Spirit.
ChapterNext is a pastor search and church consulting firm led by Rev. Sam Hamstra. They assist congregations through a handful of services, including staff development, weekend worship workshops, leadership retreats, congregational mergers, and ministry reviews (vision and mission statements, budgets, building renovation, and marketing plans). These services grew out of ChapterNexts’ founding purpose which is to help congregations turn the page so that they can begin writing new chapters of dynamic and life-transforming ministry.