Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vineyard Core Values Part 1

Over the next few months we will be discussing the core values and philosophy of ministry of the North Shore Vineyard in our small groups. In conjunction with the small groups I will be posting blogs to help stimulate the discussion and initiate our conversation.

The first topic we will be dealing with is why we need to have core values and how they can inform and guide the various aspects of Christian life individually and as a church.

Why Core Values?
The reality is that each of us has a set of core values around which we live our lives. We may not be conscious of them or even be able to articulate them but there are ideas and values that are fundamental to our existence that reside within every person.

A core value for one person may be financial security. Thus it will inform and guide the decisions that person makes concerning employment, saving, and investing. Another core value may be maintaining a high level of relationship in one’s family. Again this value will have ramifications on the type of job that one will work, and the type of activities that one might engage in. What makes these values core values is that they are fundamental in a person’s worldview and outlook on life. A person will not easily go against his or her core values without great anxiety, resentment, and pain because core values reside at such a heart level.

Becoming Aware of Individual Core Values
I suspect that many if not most people are not consciously aware of their core values and because of this they lead, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Lives of quiet desperation” because they are consistently transgressing something within that matters deeply even if they are not immediately conscious of it.

I have found it a great exercise from time to time to sit down and ask myself what really matters to me and how I am letting that inform and guide my life. While this is a helpful exercise it is sometimes a bit painful to see how much of my life and time I let be led by other values and forces that exist far outside of my core values whether it is the culture, trying to please people, or confusing the means with the goal. It is absolutely crucial to our thriving and living from our hearts that we get in touch with the core values within. Obviously for a Christian the ultimate core value should be Jesus. In other words Jesus should be the point around which everything else in our lives is oriented. That said, each of us will have a unique set of core values that arise from orienting our lives around Jesus.
I wrote a blog last April entitled What Matters that touches on how to begin getting in touch with one’s core values:

Core Values of a Vineyard Church
Just as becoming aware of our core values as individuals is tremendously important the same could be said of understanding the core values of a church. The leaders of the Vineyard movement have recently released a list of 5 distinct values of Vineyard Churches. These values may not be unique to Vineyard Churches only but the collection of these core values sets forth what should be fundamental in any Vineyard Church.

The core values are as follows:
1. The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
2. Experiencing God
3. Reconciling Community
4. Compassionate Ministry
5. Culturally Relevant Mission

While we will be spending time in the next few months exploring these values I would highly recommend delving into them further by reading several articles on Vineyard Values.

Core Values Transcend Context
It is important to understand that core values can work in any context. For instance each of the above values can guide a gathering of Christians in a Sunday service but can also work just as well in an individual’s life whether in line at Wal-Mart, or having a conversation with a neighbor, visiting someone in the hospital, or even in one’s family. The way these values are expressed in different contexts may look a bit different from place to place and may even change over time but the guiding values remain the same.

How would you see the above 5 core values lived out in a weekly gathering of believers?

How would the above values be lived out daily in your personal life - at home, at work, in your neighborhood, etc?

And finally how might these core values inform the way we for people in various contexts from a church gathering to one's place of employment to standing in line at Wal-Mart?

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