November 14, 2012

How to Draft Core Values

 

I’m a firm believer in core values for your church or organization. I’m not going to delve into the why or the what in this post because I’ve already done so in the following two posts:

I’d like to outline some ideas on how your strategic team might go about drafting your ministry core values.

Set Your Expectations

In my experience, the process of defining and clarifying your core values is both time-consuming and rewarding as a team. It is definitely a team sport though. Don’t go about drafting your core values alone. It’s meant to be accomplished in a team environment. So make sure you have set aside several hours to work on this project. You may want to consider two or three three-hour sessions right away.

Side-Note: Be sure to keep your meetings close together on the calendar. The more days or weeks between meetings, the less momentum you will build towards completing the project successfully.

Get On The Same Page

It’s important that everyone on your team has a basic understanding of why developing your core values is important, as well as what core values are and are not. The aforementioned articles would be a great place to begin. Be sure you spend time talking about these things as a foundation first so you don’t end up doing so half-way through the process.

Assign Homework

Next, I recommend you ask each person on the team to take an hour by themselves to personally brainstorm what they believe the core values of your organization are. Be sure they are armed with the “What Core Values Aren’t” document when they do so! I suggest they either keep their list until you return together as a team or submit the list to one individual on your team. I don’t recommend each team member sending out emails to the rest of the team with their list. You want to have conversation about this stuff, but live, not digitally.

Combine, Discuss and Condense

Now is when the rubber meets the road so to speak. Be sure you have a good chunk of uninterrupted time to talk and have each team member share each value on their list as well as why they believe it’s a value that should be considered. As each team member shares, write the list down on a whiteboard so everyone can see the list developing.

This one meeting is probably one of the most important. If you don’t have a good degree of trust and openness on your team, people may find it difficult to challenge or question some of the thoughts and ideas being presented, which is an important part of the process.

After everyone has shared and the list is developed, begin working on condensing the list down to as few primary core values as possible. Resist the temptation to have a ton of values. You’ll find that, with some effort, many of the values can be combined into a bigger category. For example, "caring" and "responsive to needs" can both potentially fall under the umbrella of "caring."

You’ll also want to test each value against my list of what a core value is not. Keep in mind as well that choosing to not keep a value doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not important to you or the ministry, but that it doesn’t fall into the primary DNA listing of values for your church. Ideally, you’ll be left with a handful of values, preferably less than ten.

Rephrase Your Values For This Culture

Unless your target audience is boomers on up, you probably don’t want to keep your list of values as is. I recommend you engage in another strategy session or two and rephrase each value in such a way that it will capture the attention of your ministry guests and attendees.

For example, at Elevation Church they hold a value that, in its simplest form, could be phrased, "Teachable." However, the way they explain it on their website is much more interesting, catches my attention, and draws me in. They say: "We eat the fish and leave the bones." Check out their 30-second explanation of that value by clicking this link and selecting the fish in the bottom right corner.

Or, in Granger Community Church’s recently revamped core values, they define "Team" this way: "We Value Team: We is Better than Me."

Share Them and Live Them

Finally, you need to discover ways to regularly communicate your values to your congregation, leaders, and even your guests. I suggest you

  • post them on your website and literature about your church,
  • preach a series about them and package it up and give it away to everyone who takes your members class,
  • add them to your strategic dipstick list (the list of things you check strategically on an annual or semi-annual basis),
  • blog about them,
  • talk about them, and do so regularly.

Most importantly, make your values so important that they are non-negotiable. A negotiable value isn’t really a value, it’s an idea. If you have a value of integrity, make sure you and your team consistently think up ways to lead your ministry with integrity. If it’s about teamwork, don’t just talk about teams, build in your very structure standards that prevent people from running ministry all by themselves.

CC Image • 3n on Flickr

Originally Published: November 14, 2012
Category: Church Leadership
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