In Bob Farr's book Renovate or Die: Ten Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission he explains how churches need to approach ministry to their community. This was an eye opener and gave me language to use as I move my congregation forward.
What Farr does is explains the difference between a church's values and its strategies. Here is his definitions of both: "A value is something of the heart and a strategy is a method for carrying out the value." (p.52) He goes on to give the example of Sunday School. Sunday School is not a value it is a strategy. "The value is to teach children and adults life teachings of Jesus." (p.52) That is the core value of why Sunday School is done. Does that mean to keep the value the same it has to happen during the 10:00am Sunday school hour? Does that mean the value can stay the same but small groups are started at people's homes instead of at church?
This was my 'eureka' moment. People cherish the values and they are wonderful values we need in our local churches. But people confuse the strategy for the value all the time. What some congregations even do is they take a beloved strategy and melt it down into a golden calf. These strategies turn into sacred cows that they worship. Defining values and strategies is so important to both the congregation and the minister/staff. We need to look at our core values and the strategies we use to implement them.
Let's take worship for example. I would say the value of worship is a time to gather together to glorify God through music, God's Word, offerings, and the message. How this is accomplished is the strategy. One strategy to accomplish this is the Order of the Word found in the beginning of the hymnal and led by a beautiful pipe organ. Another strategy is a modern worship service with a band which plays for 30 minutes before the preacher/teacher comes out to give the message. Both accomplish the same value but two different strategies are implemented. Is one better than the other? NO because they both accomplish the same value.
Recently my wife and my kindergartner got in an argument on who to write a lower case 'a'. My wife and I learned that you make a circle and then draw a line down on the right side. My son learned to draw a magical c and then a line down the side. His ended up looking more like a 'd' and that is what we were trying to remedy. Now whether you use a 'o' or a magical 'c' to write an 'a' doesn't matter. Those are the strategies being used. The value is that a pencil is hitting paper and a legible 'a' is written (the value).
I have started to look at the ministries of my church with different eyes. What is my congregations core values? What are our current strategies we are using? Which strategies have turned into golden calves? What strategies may we do differently to keep our values going?
Delicious food for thought.