by EXPAND Consulting Partners
A church’s core values are like the ballast in a ship. Although storms may buffet a vessel above the waterline, it is the weight of the ballast in the hull of the ship, beneath the waterline, that allows it to weather the storm and reach its destination safely. Likewise, when a church faces crisis, it is the shared values of the congregation—defined, taught and embraced in times of calm—that sustain it through the storms of transition.
The values of our organizations reflect the importance we attach to something that serves as an influence and a guide for Transition Team members’ behavior. Some churches have well-defined and explained core values, but many don’t. If the “head” of an organization is its vision and the “heart” of an organization is its mission, the “soul” of an organization is its values. The values of an organization can often be described with the following metaphors:
1) Glue: Values hold an organization together. When there is a discrepancy, alignment and a solution can be settled by reviewing the core values.
2) A foundation: Values provide stability for growth. The ultimate groundwork is that of morality, as noted in Proverbs 16:11 (MSG): “Good leaders abhor wrongdoings of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation.”
3) A yardstick: Values set the standard for the Transition Team’s behavior. We all know that what is measured is what gets attention, so clear expectations set the standard.
4) A compass: Values give direction and guidance. This can come in a variety of contexts, but values provide a clear path forward.
5) A magnet: Values attract good Team members. Having the right people on the Team is invaluable. How do you attract Team members that promote the mission of the church? By having well-defined core values that they can identify with.
6) An identity: Values define and identify the Team. This identity takes place when values align with behavior. Values without aligned behavior equals energy drain and ineffectiveness. Values with aligned behavior will produce energy bursts and effectiveness.
We all live by core values, whether we are aware of it or not.
Organizational core values need to be identified and cultivated in the life of the church. These values not only guide the congregation and Transition Team’s approach to ministry, but they also are key to attracting the right new leadership in times of transition. When core values are clearly expressed and practiced, they serve as a filter for identifying—and eliminating—candidates. A leader’s four-fold challenge is to:
1) Know the values that should be embraced.
2) Live those values.
3) Communicate those values to the Team.
4) Constantly align behavior and values.
The Pastor should “own” the values he or she identifies as essential to the church. In other words, there has to be congruence between what is said and what is “lived out.” When core values are identified, articulated and lived out, it is easier to align behavior with values. Decisions become principled rather than situational.
For these reasons, the EXPAND team places a high priority on establishing your core values and adhering to those in all things, especially decision-making.