There are many ways to describe the culture of a church. But, what about the values of a congregation? An organization’s values are those underlying assumptions that guide the decision-making and actions taken. Many times values are put into competition with one another. As though one category is more desirable than another. Terms such as maintenance vs. mission or traditional vs. contemporary are used to note these distinctions.
In a pastoral leadership course I took in undergrad, we discussed this dichotomy and the group created two lists of values. I recently came across it. The list looked at the values of churches but focused on a healthier set of categories. The terms used were foundational and functional. If memory serves me correctly, there were ten students in the class and the professor. We had students from different denominations and pastoral experience. This is the list we made during a single class meeting.
The table itself brings back good memories of that class. However, it also reminds me of the need for good teachers who help students get past misconceptions and see things at a deeper level.
While there are indeed some issues on both sides of the table, reasonable thinking would see both sides having desirable values. We certainly need the timeless foundational values that center around doctrine and the Christian faith. At the same time, the functional or operational values note that while the message does not change, the method does. Our local churches would benefit from a healthy dose of excellence. If we continually pursue mediocrity or worse, our ability to lead people to Christ and disciple them is severely impacted.
Are there other foundational or functional values you would add?