A Values-Directed Church
It’s been an interesting but challenging season on Session as we have had to take a critical but fresh look at how we think of budgeting, investing and directing the resources with which God has entrusted us.
We are a little more than a year removed from the height of Covid, and we are starting to see real growth in attendance on Sunday mornings as people are not only returning to in-person worship but we are seeing a steady increase in new visitors and members. And with that increase in attendance, we have seen a five percent increase in contributions over last year! As you could imagine, this has all been very welcomed and encouraging to all of us.
Our fiscal year may end in June but the work of the financial committee has been fully engaged for the past several months; in fact, it’s pretty much a year-long endeavor. And while the group has a solid grasp of what it takes to fund our missionaries, pay salaries and keep the lights on, earlier this spring we decided to take a different approach to the budgeting process.
Some context is probably needed here: last Fall at our session retreat, we took another look at the core values Session settled on 10 years ago. Core values are meant to reflect the lived-out reality of what really matters to an organization.
The core values the group agreed upon at the time were:
And then there were the “aspirational values” — ideals we desire to be central to our culture, but recognize we haven’t arrived there yet. And in some cases, we haven’t even really started on the journey.
Those aspirational values included the following:
We began by taking a look at our vision statement: “Moving People Toward Christ by Being a Community of Faith, which loves, encourages and equips them in Christ, sending them out to serve,” and breaking them down to four distinct values:
Moving people toward Christ, TRANSFORMATION
by being a community of faith, COMMUNITY
which loves, encourages, and equips them in Christ, DISCIPLESHIP
sending them out to serve. IMPACT
Out of that discussion, we drafted a revised set of values:
Authentic Community — diversity of age, race, and perspective
Compelling Christ-Centered Experience — growth through worship, teaching, equipping
Loving Our Neighbors and Nations — meaningful engagement locally and globally
Dependence on God through Prayer — courageous spirituality
This all sounds great, but you can rightly question if there is any practical application to what we did or whether this was nothing more than an intellectual exercise.
An organization’s values are meant to underscore and drive everything it does, from how we plan, how we staff, what we teach and where we choose to invest the resources with which we have been given. All of this takes us back to the budgeting discussion, where we began the process of creating a “values-based budget.”
We say, for example, that we value Loving Our Neighbors and Nations — meaningful engagement locally and globally, but does our budget reflect that sentiment?
By the time we were finished, the entire budget was organized by our core values and we were able to see what percentage of our resources were assigned to what value. The resulting product of this exercise gave us a very clear picture of what it is we truly value and where we might need to make some changes.
We’re still fairly early in the process but already these discussions have been really illuminating in helping us differentiate between values that are lived out vs. those that are merely aspirational.
Not only will these discussions impact our budgeting, but this same tact will help staff and leadership better focus our time, energies, and passions.
Please pray for us as we continue this process and that it will bear fruit in our ministry here at Central, our neighboring communities, the city, the region, and beyond.