This has been percolating in my brain for the last year or so and things are finally starting to gel and take shape. A few years ago I ran into the idea of Core Values, Ethos and Practice from Hirsch’s book “On the Verge.” The basic idea is that every organization has a set of Core values (whether they have identified them or not…they still exist). Out of the core values come the practices or things we do. Based on what is being valued and how those values are being expressed through visible practices, ethos is formed (for a lengthier description see this post). This principle from Hirsch made sense out of so much that I had experienced in ministry. I began seeing it more and more, usually in non-intentional ways and began to try to figure out how to leverage this concept to make ministry more effective and much more simple.
Here is where I have landed at the moment on this. The three main Core Values that I think are needed in my particular ministry context are: Spirituality, Mutuality and Missional. It cannot be just one or two. It must be all three. To be spiritual without being mutual or missional is to be a monk. To be mutual without being spiritual or missional is to be a country/social club. To be missional without being spiritual is to be in the Social Gospel camp. To be missional without being spiritual and mutual leaves no spiritually minded community to draw people in to. But the combination of those three is powerful.
I am sure there are many other things that could be named that would be as good or better but these are the three that keep resonating with me at the moment and make so much sense out of where we are and where we are going with things. It shapes the way we do everything from small groups to worship, from how we do the invitation to how we interact as a staff. We are still learning how to do all of this but the pieces are falling into place and we can feel the traction catching in several important areas. We also realize that these three things are the be all, end all of all core values but they seem to be an answered prayer of what we need at the moment.
What would you say are the Core Values of your congregation? How do you see them play out?