It’s become a bit of a “buzzword” in modern organizational life. Many companies have invested in a process to identify their corporate values–those principles that govern the passion of their work. Once identified, the values are often shaped into poster form to adorn the hallways and board rooms where employees can be daily reminded of what we care about.
It’s actually a very good practice, especially if the posted values are really our values.
What about at church? What are the values that motivate us? Since the Bible is a big book and the challenge of representing God accurately to a community is a huge task, the list of things we must care about is equally huge. Still, I wonder if the true “values” of our hearts are showing like we think.
Consider this: If someone visited your church for the first time last Sunday, what would they think you care about most?
When I ask church leaders this question, the answers are quite interesting. Some say “music” because we spend 20-30 minutes with that priority. Others say “the Bible” since another 30-40 minutes is given to its content. Still others add “money” to the list since we never fail to receive an offering at our worship gatherings. We hope people think we’re friendly, after all, we did take a few moment to smile and shake hands.
But, as valuable as each of these practices are, do they comprise the true list of our passions? Do people know us and what we truly care about by attending our main weekly session?
It’s easy to get into the rhythm of our weekly habits. Sundays become familiar as we do similar things each week. The songs change, the message targets a different biblical text, but the overall look matches our familiar routine. We know why we do these things, but does our heart show in how we do them?
Last night I met with a wonderful church team whose confessed passions are 1) the power of God; 2) love and acceptance; and 3) serving their community. I believe them. I see how they speak of these priorities and I know they are deeply passionate about each one. And I believe these priorities can connect with many people. They are the answer to the question, “What should a church be about?”
But are they showing in what we do? If a guest enters the church, will they walk away knowing those priorities after one visit? They MUST because most churches only get a second encounter about half the time.
The point? Know your values and make sure they are highly visible in everything you do. Even a first-time unchurched guest should walk away from their encounter with your church, knowing what you are really all about. “Those people really believe God does stuff,” is a whole lot better than “those people sure sing a lot.” How great would it be to hear, “those people really want to help people in our community,” instead of “churches just want your money.”
Take the time to identify the true values or motives behind your actions as a church and then be certain that even the uninitiated can see them clearly in everything you do. The more that people know your true heart, he more likely they will be to join the journey you offer.