Shaping Your Church’s Core Values

“I have noticed three consistent core value principles in successful churches.”

In Jim Collins’ and Jerry Porras’ book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, their research showed that the most successful companies were those that had a set of unchanging core values. Their products may have changed over the years, but their values were without compromise.

Think about the core values of …

The U.S.: Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, common good, popular sovereignty, democracy.

The Constitution: Rule of law, separation of powers, representative government, checks and balances, freedom of religion, freedom of speech.

The Army: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage.

The Air Force: Integrity first, service before self, excellence.

The Navy: Honor, courage, commitment.

The Marines: Honor, courage, commitment.

Consider what happens in our culture when values like these are eroded.

Now consider what would happen—and what is already happening in many churches—when biblical values are eroded.

Most, if not all, evangelical churches have very similar doctrinal beliefs: the Bible is the inspired word of God, the Trinity, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace through faith, etc. These are hopefully unchanging core values in your church.

However, there needs to be core values in the application of these biblical values. Professing biblical values is one thing—applying them correctly is another. If all we needed to do was proclaim them, then most churches would automatically flourish and grow.

The core values listed for our country, Constitution and militaries are the foundations upon which the entirety is built. The same applies to the church. Churches must be built upon core values.

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I like that both the Navy and Marines condensed their core values down to three words. I remember hearing Rick Warren speak at King’s College in Cambridge, England. When asked about the writing of The Purpose Driven Life, he said that he read great books and condensed what he learned to a few pages, and then down to a few paragraphs, then a few sentences, and if possible, one word. He stuck to his core values and the result, he wrote one of the bestselling books of all time.

I have noticed three consistent core value principles in the Constitution and military, and in successful businesses and great churches. They are Message, Method and Measure.

The Message: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) Stay on message.

The Method: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) Stay focused.

The Measure: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied.” (Acts 6:7) Know where you are.

Therefore, sow the Word; till the soil; reap the harvest (Luke 8:5-8).

Tony Foglio is a pastor, church planter, businessman and author of Discover the Bible: Journey Through the Bible As It Was Meant to Be Read (Thomas Nelson, 2004). For more information, go to