In most circles of Christian leadership the question tends to be ‘What is our vision?’ And while you can learn a lot about a church by asking ‘where are you going’ I don’t believe you can really even answer that question until you determine who you are. Your core values determine your vision, not the other way around. I believe in the importance of vision, but when I’m beginning a new work or a new ministry I don’t look primarily at how it lines us with the vision. I first write out how what we are planning lines up with our values and what we hold dear. I want to give you just three reasons to build your church or ministry around your values and not just your vision.
1. Values are Constant. Vision is not.
Purely vision based ministries that haven’t identified a distinct DNA don’t have a great track record of ‘longevity.’ The reason for this is that vision morphs and changes based on what God is saying and doing, and if people only own your vision, when it changes there’s a great chance the spiritual maturity to change with it won’t be there.
The vision of a church of 50 won’t be the same when they reach 5,000, but there values could be the exact same. When you build your vision around your values it provides people a connection point that will be consistent no matter what stage of life your church is in. If grow your ministry by letting your values determine your vision you will have people that own both of them.
Often times vision is connected to a felt need, so what happens when that felt need is fulfilled? It shifts and the ministry looses momentum as a result. But if your vision is firmly grounded in your values it gives you the ability to shift the vision without loosing as much.
2. People Care About Who You Are
I have found that people care much more about who you are than where you say you’re going, especially initially. Do you know who you are? Every church has a DNA. The problem is many don’t take the time to establish just what that is or put time into really wordsmithing how to communicate it effectively. If people don’t have a firm grasp on ‘who’ you are then they don’t have an anchor to rally around where you’re going. If you are in this for the long haul you need to understand that people will rally around your values long before they rally around your vision.
Here’s the issue people will have with the blog title. They will think it’s value over vision, or vision over mission. The truth is values and vision work together. Have you ever heard God referred to as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my Banner? In war soldiers get scattered on the battlefield, but a banner is raised and it give the troops a place to come around. Once the troops are regrouped they can go forward into war. That banner is your values that rallies your troops to go forward and facilitate your vision.
3. Vision is Schizophrenic
‘Vision in many churches is schizophrenic because it has to be split so many ways.’ -Pastor Jim Hennesy. The church has one vision right? Wrong! There may be one overarching vision, but every ministry within the church has it’s own vision connected to the main vision of the church. It is split so many different ways! Why? Because the vision of your half way house can’t be the same as your vision for the kid’s ministry and still be specific enough to give clear direction to both.
Your broad vision casting for the whole church has to be filtered down to the moving parts. From there the vision is shaped for these individual ministries to be effective as it pertains to their role. For example, if the vision is for the car to move forward then the vision for the spark plugs is to fire correctly and the vision for the axle is to turn the wheels. Do you see how the vision of the whole church is different than the immediate vision of the ‘parts’ even though they are connected. Not so with values. Vision is necessarily varied, values are the same across the board, and the consistency of your values is what will hold the vision of the whole together.
What are the values of your church or ministry? Do you know them? Do you have them? Every ministry is different. Comment below with your values!