Church Values: Create A Powerful Church Core Values Statement [2023]

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Are you trying to discover the church values that will get your congregation moving in the right direction?

If so, you are in the right place.

In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about strategically choosing your church core values and the biggest mistakes ministry leaders make when writing their church core values statement.

Let’s get into it!

What Are Church Values? 

A church core value is a deeply held belief that is purposefully chosen to guide all future behavior of everyone in the ministry. 

Your church core values support your church vision statement and your church vision statement.

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For clarity’s sake, it’s helpful to also understand your church’s mission and vision and how a church values statement works to support them. 

What Is A Church Values Statement? 

A church core values statement is a short and memorable statement that clarifies the core beliefs that guide the behavior of everyone in your ministry. 

Integrating Your Church Values, Mission & Vision 

A church core values statement doesn’t stand on its own. It directly relates to and supports your church mission and your church vision. 

Church Vision: Your church vision statement clearly identifies the future world your church seeks to bring about. Like God promised Moses and the Israelites a “promised land”, God also has a promised land for your church. 

church values

In faith, you can look forward in time and say, when we reach our promised land, it will be the kind of land that is flowing with milk and honey. It will be free of tyrants, giants, hunger, desert, and oppression. The Israelites had never seen any of these things until they arrived in the promised land. Your church vision brings clarity about how the world will look different when your church has accomplished its kingdom purpose. 

(If you would like to read more about creating a church vision statement, check out our post titled, Church Vision Statement: How To Discover & Write A Powerful Church Vision

Church Mission: Your church mission supports the church vision by explaining the mission that must be undertaken to bring about such an impossible, heavenly kind of world. Your mission should be difficult. The Israelites went on their mission to face certain death at the hands of Pharaoh’s armies, certain death of starvation in the wilderness, and even more certain death battling giants who inhabited their promised land. The bigger your church vision, the more perilous the mission will be. 

church values

Nothing good indeed comes for free. Even salvation through Christ wasn’t free. It’s free for us, but it wasn’t free for Jesus. The better your ministry is called to bring into the world, the more sacrifice will be required on the mission there. Jesus Paid the ultimate price to bring about the ultimate good. Your mission should clarify the major obstacles that must be overcome to bring about your church vision. 

(If you would like to read more about creating a church mission statement, check out our post titled, Church Mission Statement: How To Find & Write A Powerful Church Mission

Church Values: On its most fundamental level, a value is an individual’s most deeply held standard for behavior. Of course, our values are most evidently seen when we come upon hard times. This is when our true values rise to the surface and show us who we are. 

In the same way, church values are the core beliefs that set the standard for behavior at all times, especially when your ministry and everyone within faces a challenge. Of course, challenges are a necessary part of your church mission. Without confronting these strategic challenges, you cannot bring about the vision God has called your church to create in the world. 

It’s also important to realize that the more extraordinary the vision for your church, the more unusual, specific, and strategic your church values will need to be. Bland run-of-the-mill values  like “integrity”, or “putting Jesus first” drive create bland, run-of-the-mill churches that struggle to grow. 

Why Is A Church Core Values Statement Important

A well-thought-out and strategic church values statement will create a clear set of acceptable actions that are to be taken to overcome obstacles while pushing the church toward its vision. 

What Happens If My Church Values Are Unclear? 

Without identifying church core values, there is no clear direction for how someone is supposed to solve problems that arise along the path toward the vision. Without these approved guidelines for action, many people will be paralyzed by inaction, fearing the consequences of living directly out of their guiding values. Others will use values that contradict the ministry’s vision.

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This means when your ministry finally comes into its battle against the giants, your army is untrained in how to deal with chaos. Some have the value of bravery and action so they run head-first into battle without realizing nobody is running in behind them. Others, valuing to “live and fight another day” run away. Still, others value time to think things through freeze in place, doing nothing in the heat of the moment. 

With everyone operating from their own core values instead of a centralized church values statement, there is no ability to work together as a team, supporting the vision as a unified whole. 

Church Core Values Create Church Culture

The church values that you and your ministry team use every day will permeate your ministry and ultimately create a culture. If you want your church members out in the community evangelizing or volunteering to give your single moms an evening out, you’re going to need an action-oriented culture. 

Many ministry leaders don’t understand that to create an action-oriented culture, they have to have core values centered around taking action. If you want your congregation to take ownership of the vision, you need to have values centered around ownership. The sum of your church values is your church culture. 

Your church values should always be strategically designed to create the type of culture that will enable your ministry to reach its church vision as effectively as possible. 

4 Types Of Church Core Values

There are four types of church core values we will cover in the sections to come. 

These include: 

  1. Intentional church core values
  2. Aspirational church core values
  3. Accidental church core values
  4. Basic church core values

When creating a church values statement, it is essential to ensure that the values included in the statement are intentional core values. The other types of values will reduce meaning and clarity within your church.

A core value doesn’t just focus on goals, but rather it informs what type of goals and objects are valued within the church. These values should reflect the mission and purpose of the church as well as be something that can be regularly discussed by members. By including intentional core values in your statement you can ensure that your church’s work will be focused and driven specifically towards those particular ideals. This will allow you to create a community around shared beliefs and will help strengthen relationships both inside and outside of the church walls.

Intentional Church Core Values 

Intentional church core values are the type of values you need to have in place for your church. These are the values that are strategically chosen to create a culture and congregation that can reach God’s vision for your church.

Ministry leaders who intentionally choose church values are sure that there are no conflicting church values. Conflicting church values create confusion in your audience. If one of your church values is to take action, and another value is to ask for permission, your audience will not understand what to do when confronted with an issue. Should they take it on or should they ask for permission first? 

Ministry leaders who set intentional church values are also on the lookout for unwritten values that exist in the ministry that may be incompatible with the intentionally stated church values. 

Intentional church values are also followed up on. They don’t get written down in the form of a church values statement and forgotten about. 

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It may become apparent to a church leadership team that to reach the church vision, their congregation needs to stop being stagnant and value daily learning and growth. They then may choose to implement this new value into their church values statement to increase momentum toward the vision. But they also understand that this alone isn’t enough to change the default behavior within the congregation. They must teach the new church value, preach it, and most importantly, live out dynamic growth in their own lives. Only when your audience sees full buy-in from the leadership will they fully buy into your church values themselves. 

Aspirational Church Core Values

Aspirational church values are values that you or your ministry think you have but don’t show up in reality

One church I attended for three years claimed to value international missions as their single greatest core value. This was the reason my wife and I began attending the church, to begin with. After over three years of attendance, it was clear that this was not an intentional value, it was aspirational. In the span of that time, we never heard about or were invited to any international mission trips. Despite weekly attendance, we were unaware of any missions training, fundraising events, classes, planning sessions, etc. Mission wasn’t an intentional value, it was aspirational. 

So how can you determine what your initial core values are?

The easiest way to assess the real values of your ministry is to assess where your resources are allocated in real life. Where does the budget really go? What is pastoral, staff, and volunteer time spent on, minute by minute, each day? 

Discovering where your ministry resources go will show you what you currently value. 

This of course is a Biblical principle we find in Luke. 

“43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 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 6:43-45

Each tree is recognized by its fruit. This is as true of individuals as it is of groups of individuals. If God has called your church to be a missions church but you bring out some other fruit, you’re not a missions church. 

It’s also important to clarify, there is more than one type of good fruit. Your church may be producing good fruit – say helping the homeless fruit. But the question remains the same; if God called your church to be a mission to Japan tree, how are you going to explain to him that you decided to help the homeless instead? 

Just because your church is creating good fruit doesn’t mean it’s the right fruit. 

You may assess where the resources in your ministry are being spent and realize that a strategic church value change is in order. First, you need to identify the new church core value that will be the heart of your initiative. Then you will need to realign your ministry’s resource allocation to align with the new church value. This means everything from pastor work hours, ministry programs, volunteer roles, and church budgeting. 

It’s important to understand the difference between aspirational church values and what you value in action. Whatever you value intentionally and in your actions is the direction your church will go. 

Accidental Church Core Values

Accidental church values are values that naturally arise from the existing culture in and around your church. Different countries have different values which impact each congregation differently. 

When Paul sent out his letters to the early churches correcting their behavior, he was instilling Godly values and actions in place of worldly values and actions that accidentally infected the church. 

Accidental values can come from your country, region, state, city, culture, etc. The job of your ministry team is to be aware of the unspoken values that permeate your ministry and to either accept or reject them intentionally. 

Of course, we need to condemn worldly values that inhibit our relationship with God. But many good values will not take your ministry to the vision God has called you to pursue. Just because accidental church core values are good still does not mean they should be allowed. 

Basic Church Core Values

Many ministry leaders confuse intentional church core values with basic church values. A basic church value is a basic value that can be said of practically any church. 

For example, saying that “putting Jesus first in all things” should not be a church value. This is a necessity to be a Christian. It tells your audience nothing about what your church values specifically, what you are all about, or how you are setting out to accomplish it. 

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Basic church values are just par for the course. Here are two more basic church core values examples, “Love God”, and “love people”. The same applies here, if you don’t love God and love people, you are most likely not even a Christian.

Basic church values don’t separate you from other ministries and don’t need to be stated. Your intentional church values should act to separate your ministry from others, clarify what your ministry is doing, and who should be participating with you. 

What Is The Process Of Creating Church Values?

Work Backwards: Many ministries create their values from the ground up by asking questions like “what are some good values?”. Don’t take this approach because it doesn’t lead to church values that are directly related to the completed vision of your ministry. Instead, think backward from your vision. What are the beliefs your congregation will need to have to fulfill the vision? If your church’s vision has to do with evangelism, then your congregation needs to be skilled communicators. [Also, your church should probably have some programs that teach communications skills, etc]

Be Unique: Don’t copy the values of other churches. Other churches are not called to do what you are called to do. They need different values than your ministry. If you copy the church values statement from another ministry, it won’t help you to accomplish the vision God has for your church. Not only this, but your congregation will know that the values statement isn’t authentic, and they will ignore it.

Be Specific: Don’t use generic values. Most ministries are using values that don’t mean anything. Common examples are loyalty, honesty, faith, trust, accountability, and respect. This is like saying that as a human, “I believe that I should breathe air every day”. Why would this need to be said? It’s implicit in being a person. If you don’t have faith, honesty, and accountability, you don’t have a church. Skip the vague necessities and get specific with the types of values you advocate for in your church values statement.  

Keep It Short: Each church value on your church values statement should be short, clear, and to the point. Start with, “We believe in”, and then explain the value. Avoid platitudes like “We believe in Jesus”, or “We believe in God fulfilling the great commission”. This is also not a place for theological beliefs like “We believe that Jesus is God.” Your church values must be directly related to action. 

Measurable: Each church value should imply some way that it can be measured. As we said earlier, values determine action. “Believing in the holy spirit” is not a measurable action. In the examples below, we can measure massive action, mistake resolutions, and optimization attempts. 

For Example: Here at Clickmill our vision is to help ministry leaders reach more people, more effectively

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To accomplish the vision, we have created 3 interlocking values statements to essentially guarantee that our team gets results for our ministry clients. Through years of experience and millions of dollars spent on marketing, we have found a direct correlation between taking action and ministry growth. We have also found a direct correlation between taking action and mistakes. 

We know that to help our ministry clients grow, we have to take action and risk making mistakes. Here are the value statements our team lives by:

  1. Take Action: We believe that when in doubt, take massive action [that supports the vision]. Don’t ask for permission if it’s in your job description. Clickmill will never reprimand a team member for taking initiative, taking ownership, or doing their very best.
  2. Make Mistakes: We believe that you need to make more mistakes to create more growth. If you break it, don’t panic. We will figure out how to fix it as a team so we all know how to do it better in the future. Mistakes are just learning opportunities in disguise.
  3. Optimize: We believe that after you give something your first try, it’s time to optimize. Gather as much data and feedback as you can about what happened and why. Assess the data, and make a more educated decision on how to refine your marketing effort. 

These three values by themselves create a positive feedback loop of taking action, making mistakes, understanding the mistakes, and implementing changes to get better results in the future. Our values statements are strategically chosen to support our vision of helping ministry leaders reach more people more effectively. 

Your church values statement should strategically support your church vision as well. But know that we know how to create a church core values statement, what do we do once we have one completed? 

Apply Your Church Core Values Statement

Once you and your ministry team have solidified a church core values statement, what do you do next? It’s time to live and embody the values. Most churches create a church mission statement, vision, and values, and then allow them to drift out of mind. Everyone in your church should know your mission, vision, and values right off the top of their head. Your ministry needs to assess each program and event and figure out how those programs reflect your church mission, vision, and values.  

Example: The team here at Clickmill knows that if they are just punching the clock every day and keeping the status quo, they aren’t abiding by our values. They know this because we discuss our values all the time. They permeate everything we do. They are even here in this blog. I wrote three of them off the top of my head. This post is just one more place where both you and our team see and understand that our deepest core value is getting RESULTS for the kingdom and for ministry leaders. (And if you’re not generating the results you feel your ministry is called to produce, we would love to set up a free strategy session to discuss your goals. Schedule yours today!)

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Well, that about sums it up for this post on Church Values: Creating A Powerful Church Core Values Statement.

We shared 3 of our values in this post. What are your top three church values?

Share yours in the comments below!

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