I grew up in the era of Pearce Brosnan being James Bond. Goldeneye was the classic, and the Bond Car was peak-Bond - a BMW Z3 fitted with stinger missiles. Who knows where the engine would fit with all of the technology going on, but that’s not the point. The point was, James had a secret weapon whenever he needed it.
When it comes to shaping the culture in your church, we’re often looking for a secret weapon that will help us move the culture in the direction we would like.
A great analogy for shaping the culture of your church is adding milk to tea. You need the right ingredient to change the colour of the tea, but tea won’t become milk, it will become milky tea. Similarly, your congregation won’t become who you are, they will become a different version of themselves. And that’s a good thing.
So what’s the secret weapon? What’s the milk to add to the tea? Your values.
Values are so often misunderstood. They are usually words that we like that sit in the dusty corner of a website, and have no impact on how the church operates. That’s a bit like leaving the stinger missiles in Q’s workshop rather than adding them to the Bond Car.
Your mission is ‘why’ you do what you do. Your values should be the ‘how’ you do what you do. It’s how you can live out the mission. They should be crafted to help your church make decisions.
Values that are just words are passive. If you’ve got the value of ‘Integrity’ (and everyone has that value!) - how do you do that? How can you appropriate that into the real world? How do you do integrity? At thinking.church, we recommend that you create ‘Simple Guiding Principles’ that are active phrases.
When you’re looking for phrases, remember MUM - Memorable, Universal, Measurable.
Memorable is obvious: it needs to be a phrase you can recall at a moment’s notice. Universal means that it can be appropriated into any circumstance - in church, out of church. Measurable means that someone can answer the question, “did I/was I _________________ today?” For Instance, a recent church we helped identified a phrase as “Every Hello Matters” - it’s memorable, it’s universal as it can fit into every situation, and it’s measurable, “did I make every hello matter today?”
Values are best when you start to teach them. Preaching the values is important, but more importantly, it’s teaching them to your volunteers. In the Ritz-Carlton hotels, all employees have a daily team huddle to talk through one of their values. They are then challenged to put that value into practice in their shift. Every day, a new value. What if every time your teams met the first 10 minutes were spent talking about a value and praying before starting?
When my son was learning to walk, he would take a few steps, my wife and I would celebrate it like crazy. What happened as a result? His little face lit up and he wanted to try again. We’re not so dissimilar when it comes to living the values. A little bit of celebration goes a long way. Look for it, then brag on people who live out the values. And just like my son, celebrate progress, don’t expect perfection.
Here’s where the rubber hits the road. As a church leader, unless you are living out the values, you can never expect your congregation to do so. It’s both inside and outside of church, it’s in front of people and in private. If you can’t link a decision to one of your values, it’s a no-go. You can’t live a value, it shouldn’t be a value - or you shouldn’t be the leader.
In Bond movies, 007 wins the day, albeit with a lot of death and carnage left in his wake. Changing a culture doesn’t need to have the same collateral damage, but it will take intentionality. If you need help working out your values we’d love to help.