The Value of Values, Part II - Ministry Values

In the last edition of The Pastor's Coach the topic was Core Values. I stated that core values are similar to the divider lines on a road. They are a reminder of when we get out of bounds, and therefore help keep us on track. Core values are also like the banks of a river. They don't impede the flow (of life and ministry) but they do guide it in a certain direction.

Core values are what you will live and die for. Ministry values are important, but a little more subjective. Their purpose is to aid you in ministry effectiveness as well as promote teamwork. The Core Values are for the entire church. The Ministry Values are a tool designed largely for staff and primary leaders.

A good way to understand Ministry Values is to look at your own family. You have certain ways of doing things. And when everyone is in line with your family systems, life runs smoother. Christmas traditions are a good example. When Patti and I got married, now over twenty years ago, I had no idea there were different ways to "do" Christmas. I was in for an education. I grew up in a home with some German heritage, (German from my dad's side and Scottish from my mom's.) We always celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve, a big meal, presents, the whole works. Patti's family, (Spanish and English) thought that to be just short of bizarre. We promptly had a collision of family systems. Neither was right or wrong - just a different set of values.

Think of how you raise your kids, or any of your family's important priorities. It could be time together, your faith, or even how you do vacations. If you are in agreement (we say 'alignment' in organizations) things work smoothly, if not - enter chaos. My kids will come home on occasion and say something like, "Tiffany down the street gets to stay up late on a school night" or "Jake gets to bring friends with him on their family vacation." Then I shoot off a wise and carefully crafted statement like, "Well that's not how we do things around here!" OK, so I'm not a perfect parent, but my statement revealed something. We do have a way of doing things. That way is what I'm getting at when it comes to ministry values.

North Point Community Church, under Andy Stanley's leadership, calls them "Law's of Ministry." We might call ours a "Ministry Code." No matter how you title them, if followed, they will serve you well.

We are in the process of writing ours at Crossroads. The following is a first draft, but I'll share them with you as an example you can work from.

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Fight for focus.

Distraction is a top enemy of effective ministry. Fight against it. Do everything within your power to achieve and maintain a precision laser focus. Your focus must always support the mission of the church.

Never violate the core values.

Our core values are foundational to who we are. Be intentional about the core. Weave them into your life and ministry. Look for evidence of the values lived out in your ministry.

Invest in apprenticeship.

Jesus modeled apprenticeship with the 12 disciples. Follow His lead. Develop others to lead. Teach others the art of apprenticing. Work yourself out of a job.

Think people and process, not programs.

Programs tend to be event-focused and rarely contribute to life transformation. Take people on a journey. Engage them in a life-changing process. Think long term, don't simply add water and stir.

Press for progress.

Leaders move the ball down the field. They don't make excuses, they get the job done...one day at a time. Take risks, be decisive, but whatever you do, move the ball down the field.

Keep it simple.

Complicated structures and systems slow down progress. Complicated is not the same as wise. Make your ministry easy to communicate and fluid enough that you could redesign it in 48 hours if needed. Design what you do in such a way that a first timer sitting in the back row would get it.

Think ahead.

Creativity can't always be scheduled - but we cannot blame poor planning on lack of creative time or what others have not accomplished. Anticipate. Think. Initiate.

Make it fun.

Ministry isn't always easy, and is guaranteed to present significant challenges. Your attitude, however, can and will make a difference. Choose joy. Smile. Bring laughter and a light heart into the mix. Live life in such a way that others want to be around you.

I have chosen eight guidelines for our staff. You may want a few less, but I encourage you not to exceed ten. If your list gets too long, it is less likely that you will truly live them out. I'm confident that you will see a difference when you put this idea to practice.

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter 'The Pastor's Coach' available at www.injoy.com. I hope this is helpful to you, the next edition of The Pastor's Coach will cover the topic of ministry values.