Every church has the same mission, but its own personality. We all go about making disciples for Jesus Christ in our own unique way. Some congregations emphasize the relational part of church life, while others focus more heavily on the praise and worship part. Other assemblies pay more attention to community engagement and missions.
A church’s personality is shaped by its core values. Church leadership expert, Aubrey Malphus, defines core values as, “The constant, passionate, biblical core beliefs tha drive ministry.” A church’s top priorities are what bring a church together – or at least they should!
What happens when a church doesn’t know or act on its values? How can you tell if there is a breakdown in communication or a missalignent? What does ot take to reenergize a church that is struggling? How can you repair an unhealthy church culture?
This post will introduce the first of three church scenarios involving ignorance and inaction when it comes to core values. Each scenario is an example of what can happen when a church and its leaders are unware and out of touch with its operational convictions. The remaining church scenarios will be described on posts that will be released later this week.
Scenario #1: Perpetual Conflict
Pastor Tom came into First Church with a ton of energy and enthusiasm. He was excited to serve in his first senior pastorate and the church was excited to have him. First Church had been a thriving and growing church at one time, but recently they had been struggling. Pastor Tom introduced a number of well-thought out initiatives that were designed to attract new people to the church. In time, those initiatives began to work and the church was reinvigorated with stream of new faces. But some older members of the congregation were uneasy about the changes. The new changes interrupted the weekly schedule they had been accustom to. The new people were unfamiliar and hard to get to know. The increase in attendance meant that it was more difficult to get their pastor’s attention when they had a need.
In time, these older members began to complain about how their church had gotten “too big” and how the newer people were moving the church in the “wrong direction.” The complaints continued until they stirred up a significant amount of friction and discontent in the church. Attempts to address the concerns by Pastor Tom and other supportive church leaders were unsuccessful. In time, Pastor Tom felt pressure to leave First Church for another place of ministry, even though the church was evangelizing the lost and attracting new members.
This is an example of a breakdown in communication between a pastor and the congregation he is called to serve. Pastor Tom put a high value on evangelizing the lost and growing the church through new people. Few church members would openly oppose evangelism or church growth, but in this example, the disgruntled church members have a different set of core values. They are more interested in personal relationships and fellowship. These priorities are not bad or wrong. Healthy relationship are vital part of any healthy church. The problem happened when neither party (the church or the pastor) took ownership of core values that were driving their approach life and ministry in the church. They never sat down together and discussed why they felt so strongly about their opposing visions of the church.
It is important that church leaders and church members know and act on their core values. They are what brings the church together. Tomorrow’s post will describe another version of what happens when that’s not the case.
Feel free to leave a comment about what you’ve observed about core values in the local church.