The Power of Core Values

October 20, 2016

Anthony Hunt, pastor of Epworth Chapel in Baltimore, describes how discerning and naming core values can help a church stay focused and on track. Clear core values are essential in implementing mission and vision, setting goals, and evaluating new ministry opportunities. They also help individual church members live out their lives as Christ-followers.

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By Tony Hunt

As is the case in any organization, a church’s ability to develop, articulate, and implement its core values is critical to fulfilling its mission, vision and purpose. One dictionary defines a core value as a “principle that guides the organization’s internal conduct and its relationship with the external world.”

A church that effectively develops, articulates, and appropriates its core values can remain clear on what it believes about itself, and focused on what God calls it to be and do.

Core values essentially speak to:

  1. Identity. Who we believe we are.
  2. Theology. How who we believe we are fits with God’s vision for us.
  3. Action. How we will act on what we believe about ourselves.

As a church plans to engage in ministry, its core values are a key mechanism for keeping the church focused and on track.

As part of a strategic planning process several years ago, Epworth United Methodist Chapel in Baltimore spent a considerable amount of time in discernment, clarifying its core values in light of its history, present realities, and hope for the future. Epworth Chapel’s strategic plan states that:As a church, our values stand at the core of all that we are, all that we do, and all that we seek to become as the people of God.” The seven core values Epworth Chapel named are:

  1. Prayer. Public, private, and communal prayer is central to all that we do.
  2. Excellence. We strive to offer God and one another our best in all that we do.
  3. Hospitality. Everyone we encounter should receive radical hospitality, a friendly and open welcome, and all persons are to be treated as full participants in the body of Christ.
  4. Justice. We are committed to a vision of society where every individual has equal access to the resources, opportunities, benefits, and protections that society offers, and where every individual is treated with dignity and fairness.
  5. Family-focused. We affirm and support the building of strong families as we model what it means to be the family of God.
  6. Nurturing. We are committed to supporting and encouraging each other, and providing opportunities for all persons to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
  7. Diversity. We believe that there is strength in welcoming and accepting persons of all ages, genders, races, abilities, orientations, identities, and nationalities — all God’s people — into the church family.

Core values can serve three critical purposes for a church. In a planning process, they provide a reflective mechanism for the development of church-wide goals and objectives. They can be used to judge whether a new ministry opportunity fits the church’s values. And they help individual church members live out their lives as Christ-followers.

Epworth Chapel has implemented our mission and vision statements with careful consideration to our core values. And, we give prayerful and careful consideration to new opportunities for church and community engagement that align with our core values. For instance, Epworth Chapel has developed an ongoing partnership with one of the elementary schools in its community. As this ministry opportunity fit our core values, the church embraced and implemented it.

A church that effectively develops, articulates, and appropriates its core values can remain clear on what it believes about itself, and focused on what God calls it to be and do.

Click here to see this article in the original publication in Leading Ideas from The Lewis Center For Church Leadership.

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