One of the products of the last several months of groundwork and planning has been the initial development of our identity as a church. Mission, vision, values — this is the language of identity.
To a certain extent, much of the groundwork we’ve done is tentative. As the church grows and comes to life more fully it will give body and character to much of the initial dreaming and articulation we’ve done. We’re prepared to adapt (adaptation, in fact, is part of our values set).
When I look at our values I think of time spent in the Mission Alive Strategy Lab nearly two years ago, hours spent in front of a whiteboard with Ryan, Claudia and Julie, searching the Scriptures, conversations with mentors, coaches and other church planters, and even asking our Dallas friends and neighbors what they thought. These values have been a community project.
What you’ll see below is our take on the whole mission/vision/values task. You’ll notice that it’s not much. Part of our bias in developing this kind of thing is that less is more. What is the use in crafting this language if it will sit in a document somewhere on our computers and never be used? We wanted our values to be simple and memorable. Our values sum up what we’re all about.
These values will be our roadmap for future decisions. They’ll be the way we organize our job descriptions as the staff grows. Even our children’s ministry will find its place living out these very same values.
Ultimately, all of our values flow out of the story of God as Father, Son and Spirit that we find in the Christian Scriptures.
You’ll notice that each heading is one of our major values; underneath the headings are sub-values, if you will, or further explanation as to how the major values come to life in our community. Accompanying each value is a short statement that brings the value down to earth. When people ask “What are you guys about?” we’ll say, “We’re people that live for something bigger than ourselves” or “Storyline is a church where you can make real friends.”
Here’s an excerpt from material published on the website (which will be fully up and running next week…hopefully that will be the next blog post!):
Storyline Christian Community lives to discover its place in God’s story through dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships.
Dependence on God — God manages our lives better than we can.
- Trust: The best way to live is in a trusting relationship with God
Mission — We live for something bigger than ourselves.
- Reproduction: followers make new followers and churches make new churches
- Hospitality: extending a warm welcome to strangers
- Justice: befriending the poor; helping the helpless; caring for the earth
- Adaptability: the courage to create new things and the willingness to adapt
Life Change — God is fixing us.
- Character: thinking, acting and feeling like Jesus
- Expression: reflecting God’s image with our unique gifts and abilities
- Generosity: extending our resources — time, money, abilities — on behalf of others
- Simplicity: finding more in less
Genuine Relationships — We make real friends.
- Authenticity: being real about who I am with others
- Acceptance: embracing people as they are without judgment
- Collaboration: working together where everyone has something to contribute
What do you think? What do you like? What feedback would you give? Again, we’re all about adaptation.
I appreciate the part about authenticity, and I wonder if there’s a place between authenticity and acceptance that allows me to also say that although I am being real about who I am AT THIS POINT, I am open to growth and change. The idea that in this community of believers, I might be convicted, called, challenged, etc. to transform into a new creation. And because of a culture of acceptance, I’m willing to be vulnerable enough to hear that from my church and respond to it.
To see the concept of a community in Dallas now taking on a skeleton and flesh with this value system is amazing! I’ll be praying now as you continue to labor Storyline into a body, growing each day to honor its Creator God.
Thanks for your encouragement, Natalie.
I think your comments about openness to change are important. Accepting each other where we are is only half of genuine community. The other half is growth and transformation.
We hope the point in between authenticity and acceptance will be drawn out by our value for life change–that in the context of community, we change to act more like Jesus, learn to use our gifts, and live generously and in simplicity.
Admittedly, the lines between each value begin to blur at some point.
Thanks again for the good comment. Right on. Keep it real in Fresno.
Looking forward to checking out the new site. Now for some thoughts and questions that came to mind. In peace and sincere love I write:
You can’t go wrong with hospitality and collaboration; two things a community organization definitely needs. To make this something unique from what the world already offers, however, could be adding something like: “Reunion: The Storyline Christian Community helps individuals and community to share in the ultimate and everlasting reunion that man has with God through Christ alone.”
This reunion with God through Christ is what empowers true and unique acceptance, and generosity, and hospitality, and justice, etc. It is the foundational rock of everything your vision, values and mission stand on. The world and various other secular organizations offer the things you mention in its own various ways – what makes Storyline unique from them?
You did mention this was just the beginning, so if it’s generalities you are looking for to get started and to get the ball rolling; that is practical. Are you going to be more specific in the future? For example:
“Reproduction: followers make new followers…” Of what? Of who? And how does one become empowered enough to share in this reproduction?
Or, “Character: thinking, acting, and feeling like Jesus”. Why Jesus? You could remove “Jesus” and put in “Mother Theresa” or “Gandhi” in His place in the phrase and it would read the same on its face.
And in regards to adaptation: How adaptable are you? Is there a line to be drawn; a stake to claim? (Just one of many examples: Is the Word of God firm for all time? Is it immovably true? Is it faithful? Or, is it adaptable to change with the whimsical needs of man and culture?)
I’m looking forward to following what is to come with your efforts…
With peace and sincere love in Christ –
I think many of your questions are answered with another, more foundational document of ours. Many call it “basic beliefs” and list the tenets of the Christian faith. We call it “God’s Story” and include the narrative found through the pages of Scripture.
This story includes things like reconciliation with God through Christ, the nature of Jesus, the lines of adaptation, etc.
You’re right…it’s God’s story that makes our value set unique. The God story’s section begins with: “We believe the story of God in Jesus is the true story of the whole world.”
I’ll have to post that doc sometime…you’ll be able to see it on the website soon, too.
These values are simply the way we live out our Christian story…the style in which we do it, if you will. They assume the Christian story as the broader context that gives them meaning. Thus “followers make new followers” is implicitly “followers of Jesus” and character is about Jesus, not Ghandi, because this is the Christian story we’re talking about.
Personally, I think we need more Christians who follow in the steps of Mother Teresa and Ghandi.