Saturday, July 2, 2011

Principles for Progress in the Church, Part 2: Values

It’s always fun talking to young couples just before marriage, and asking them about their value system. Most people tend to think they don’t officially have an actual system of values. But the facts are otherwise. We all have and use a value system whether we know it or not. And it affects everything else we do, so it is vital in young relationships to talk about values and establish an intentional forward-thinking strategy.

In the previous post we began talking about making intentional progress in the church, and how that must begin by understanding that our purpose comes from God through His Word, or we’re not the church at all. If we understand God’s purpose for all local churches, we can begin to see our church’s unique identity by building our church life together on strategic, stated values.


Again, as with purpose, these are derived from Scripture, and it is the next logical step: to determine our mutually held values, based on God’s Word.

And as before, the Bible is clear about values that fade versus values that last:

Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. (14) But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. (15) Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (16) For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. (17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (James 3.13-18, HCSB)

To make progress in our churches, we start with knowing God’s purpose(s) and then begin to define who we are by what we value. The above paragraph from James makes it obvious that there is a profound difference between the type of wisdom we get from the world as contrasted with what we receive from heaven. Worldly advice is even described as demonic in verse 15.

Progress requires intentionality. We must be strategic by the Holy Spirit’s power. And we must therefore ask the tough questions to ensure that we are being driven by God’s Spirit. Is our church carefully navigating the demands of ministry with an eye for what God desires from us? Do we value the things He values? Or are we just floating along without any real direction?

Real change in value systems starts with individuals, and then families, and then the church together. So ask yourself: Are my values…

  • Physical or spiritual?
  • Temporal or eternal?
  • Earthly or heavenly?

In a family, these types of questions become important in practical ways when it’s time to decide on a newer vehicle, or on how many meals you eat out, or on how to spend that extra time on Saturdays. It helps us to actually think about daily decisions that add up to a value system.

On the church level, it could just change the direction of your church.

Ultimately I have to ask myself, are my values from the world or from the Word? Next time we’ll talk about vision.

[This is part 2 of 5 in a series titled, Principles for Progress in the Church. Here is Part 1.]