What are “core values,” and why are they important? That’s a great question, and in order to answer it well, I think I’ll need to go back to when I first understood what it meant to operate on a set of Biblically-based and God-honoring core values.
Over the past eight or nine years, I have had the privilege of learning an immeasurable amount of wise insights from our lead pastor at Family Church, Ed Wilgus. On one occasion, back in 2011, he and I were sitting in his office talking when he pulled out a piece of paper and drew me a very simple diagram. He took his pen and drew a triangle to represent a pyramid. He then divided the pyramid into three tiers. At the foundation, he wrote the word, “BELIEFS.” In the middle tier, he wrote, “VALUES.” And, in the top tier, he wrote, “BEHAVIORS.”
Let me step back for moment. At this time in my life, I observed time and time again that many of the people with whom I served, couldn’t help but to get hung-up on people’s behaviors. And, these were really amazing people—people that had whole-heartedly given themselves to the Lord and genuinely wanted to serve Him in order to make an impact in the lives of those around them for the glory of God. However, they placed this expectation on people to behave in a “Christian” way without taking into account that most of the people we served were still young, or were very new believers. Expecting them to behave in a way that a mature, dedicated follower of Jesus acts is just not realistic, nor is it fair. In fact, it’s this kind of thinking that leads non-believers to think Christians are all just a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. It takes time for a child to develop into maturity, just as it takes time for a believer to grow into a fully mature follower of Jesus who is ready and willing to obey God’s lead at all times.
Now back to my conversation with Ed. After he drew me the pyramid diagram, he explained that a great percentage of Christians have a tendency to focus on behaviors. After all, our behaviors are what people can see. Unfortunately, what happens is we can get very good at learning the “correct” behaviors for every situation including the “Christian” behaviors. You know what I’m talking about: no swearing, no immodest clothing, no drinking alcohol, no gossip (unless it’s “news”), sit up straight, don’t pull your sister’s pigtails, and the list goes on and on. We all do it. We focus on our lists of “dos” and “don’ts,” and we hold ourselves, and everyone else around us, accountable to that list regardless of spiritual maturity.
Ed then explained that it is not a leader’s responsibility to change the behaviors of others; a leader’s responsibility is to give them the Truth (the capitol “T” was deliberate) that will influence their beliefs. He then explained that once our beliefs begin to align with God’s Truth, our values begin to align with those beliefs. And, once our values begin to change, our behaviors begin to reflect that internal change. Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45
So, back to our original question: what are “core values” and why are they important? In a nutshell, core values are the values and ideas we hold that direct how we function, how we interact with one another, and which strategies we use to fulfill our mission. Our core values are driven by our beliefs, and are the foundation for everything we do in the Family Church Worship Ministry.
So, what are the Worship Ministry’s core values? First of all, before I dive into our specific core values, it is important to point out that we also recognize the Family Church core values, which are: Biblically Faithful, Life-Change, Healthy Relationships, Spirit-Led Serving, Servant Leadership, and Mission Focused. Our ministry-specific core values are in addition to these.
The Worship Ministry’s core values are as follows:
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – Yes, this is also a Family Church core value, but we (the Worship Leadership Team) thought it was so important that it needed to be repeated. What do we mean by “healthy relationships?” Simply put, we want the Worship Ministry to be a family. We have a very high value for unity and community. It is this core value that led us to the decision to not have “set teams” and to make sure that everyone serves with everyone.
EXCELLENCE –This core value could be considered a Worship Ministry-specific subcategory under the Family Church core value of LIFE CHANGE. We value growth in all capacities. Therefore, members of the Worship Ministry will be challenged to continue growing spiritually as well as to improve their skills as a musician and/or singer. They will also be encouraged to be teachable. This core value influences our drive to continually improve in what we do musically. It is also important to point out the core value of Excellence relies heavily on members remaining humble. It is important to keep in mind that we strive for excellence in what we do in order to bring glory to God, not ourselves, and to lead his people into genuine heart-felt worship.
RELEVANT – While Family Church is intentionally multi-generational, our target demographic, as a church, is “young families.” Therefore, we strive to align the style of our music with current worship music trends. Primarily, songs selected will be newer, and will be more energetic and/or dynamic rather than contemplative, although both types of songs are valued.
PRIESTLY & PASTORAL ROLES – This core value is a foundation for how we approach leading from the stage on a weekend (See Also, The Two Roles of a Worship Leader). As worship leaders, we have two roles: the priestly and the pastoral. The priestly role relates to old testament priests. A priest would go into the temple alone, burn incense and offer worship to God. He was not concerned about anyone around him; he just offered worship to God. The pastoral role relates more to how we function as leaders. A pastor’s role is more like a shepherd to a flock. His role is to lead those under his care to the Father. While both of these roles are vitally important, when we are on the stage to lead worship, we are functioning primarily in our pastoral role. We are not up there for our own private worship time or even for pure enjoyment (though we do find great satisfaction and fulfilment when serving); we are up there to lead the bride of Christ to set aside anything that would distract and simply worship the Father.
Our beliefs drive our values, and our values drive our behaviors. We don’t want to simply learn a list of “dos” and “don’ts;” we want our actions to be an overflow of the worship we have stored up in our hearts.