We’re in the process of drafting our initial purpose and values for the new church. When we’ve finished the process in a couple weeks, we’ll be ready to choose a name for the church that reflects the language of our values and purpose. The Kisers and Porches have had some fun times brainstorming with a dry-erase board and listening to the Scriptures. I’ve been learning several things along the way, a few worthy of mention:
1) Adaptation is a key value. We’ve been reminded from several different mentors that we are decidedly NOT going to “get it right” in the first two months. Some of our language won’t resonate with Dallas people; some of our values we’ll want to delete later; we’ll forget others that will become important to us later.
All of this is reminding us to be committed to a culture of change and adaptability. Who says we can’t add a value in three months? Who says we can’t tweak our purpose statement six months from now? We want to be responsive to our environment as we start this new church.
2) Listening to Scripture. It seems obvious, but it’s been so tempting just to rip off somebody else’s values or purpose, rather than go through the more laborious process of reading lots of Scripture and listening for what comes alive in our Dallas context.
3) Listening to Insiders. To be truthful, we’re actually the outsiders. Dallas residents are the insiders. We are wanna-be insiders. If we’re going to start a church for Dallas people, it makes sense that we would listen to Dallas people, particularly those who aren’t a part of a church. Their input will help us determine the way this church will take shape.
I’ve been inspired by the good listening Rick Warren did nearly 30 years ago as he was starting a church in Southern California. For twelve weeks he went door to door taking an opinion poll. He would say, “Hi, my name is Rick. I’m taking an opinion poll of the community. I’m not trying to sell anything or sign you up for anything. It should only take about 2 minutes. Will you participate?” Then he asked 5 questions:
- What is the greatest need in this area?
- Are you actively attending any church? [If yes, he’d say “Thank you, have a great day” and end his survey there; if no, he’d continue to the next question]
- Why do you think most people don’t attend church?
- If you were to look for a church, what kind of things would you look for?
- What advice can you give to a minister who really wants to be helpful to people?
What powerful questions! We intend to adapt Warren’s survey and use it for our own context as a way of listening to insiders. Their answers will inform the way we craft our purpose and values language.
Please pray that God will give us discernment and clarity as we draft the initial values and purpose of this new church.