Your core values are going to keep you from straying from your mission statement. Carefully examining and defining your core values is the concrete mixing stage. Before you pour a foundation of cement, you need to know what it is your pouring. Everything subsequent to the foundation will be in relation to what you poured into the original mix. If your church has built for 20 years on a foundation that is cracked, then you stand to rip the whole thing down in order to build again on a solid foundation……………………………….. and that’s not easy. Like Mark Twain said, “Plan for your future, it’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life”.

When building your core team, this is your one chance to get your priorities right and make sure that everybody is on the same page.  If you don’t establish the core values from the start, people will smuggle their own in. Core values are unchangeable. It means that if we’re small or large, we operate the same.

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • We value people themselves over anything they can do for us.
  • Only three things need to happen: 1.) We hear from God 2.) God hears from us 3.) We hear God through each other.
  • God gets the prime cuts, not our scraps.

You’ve got to retrain people about what you’re doing. Many of them think that you’re there to make the NEXT cool church with the boom boom music. In our early days of Pillar, I typed up the 5 Pillars of Pillar. I intentionally took the risk that it might sound Muslim, knowing that it would weed out anybody who couldn’t relax a little. The pillars began with the letter C: Commitment to scripture, Community in the Spirit, Contemporary in worship, Compassionate with People, and Communion with God and others. I stressed these nonstop until they embodied the core group and their thinking, unconcerned that they memorized them, but that they lived them.

Most planters are eager for their church to grow to a certain size unaware that increased numbers change the dynamics. Because we met around coffee tables, our size quickly became an issue. We were constantly looking for new buildings. At each crossroad, our core values gave us direction. A good friend and colleague of mine walked through the main meeting room that we used for Pillar’s services. In an effort to help us maximize what we do, he scanned the perimeter and began asking questions about the placement of our worship team, angle of the room, arrangement of the chairs, and where the preacher stood. After thinking a moment he said, “I’d bet you could get three times as many people in here if you eliminated these coffee tables and chair set up, and set up rows. You could turn the whole room to that far corner and get even more people in.”

After noticing my awkward silence, he smiled and said, “That is the goal, right? To get as many people in as you can?”

Turning to my friend half-shocked I said, “No. That’s never been our goal”.

I knew emphatically that to do this would rip the heart and soul out of the church. The church had been built as a place where people could be real, and share real problems; get help; speak their mind; challenge others; be used by God. Our core values had been hard-wired into the way we were set up, and our set up was directly helping us to reach our goal. Growing bigger was simply a distraction.

From the beginning, we’d determined that when we hit room capacity we’d break off another church planting team. Before I’d left, we broke off two church plants.

Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.


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