Since June of 2013, our church has been committed to an ongoing cooperative discussion about how we understand our mission, values and vision as a local gathering of believers.
The words mission, values and vision are very common today in church circles, but a common as they are, you will find them used to mean different things from one church to the next. Here’s how we have been developing our understanding and agreement of them at WBC.
The mission of the church, until Christ returns, is to give glory back to God in the making of disciples (Mat 28:18-20), inviting others to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ and walking alongside each other as we mature in that faith. This mission doesn’t change from one generation to the next. It is constant and non-negotiable. This is why we’re here.
As we commit ourselves to the mission God has established for us, CORE VALUES refer to those qualities or defining characteristics that we will commit to prioritizing as we go. How can a gathering of people hope to accomplish much unless they have a common understanding of what things are collectively agreed as most important to their cause (mission)? If a church can identify and agree on these qualities, over time these can have a huge influence on how a church develops a reputation or identity.
To help us gain clarity in the discussion about CORE VALUES, we first identified the difference between core values and essential elements of the church.
We believe the 5 Essential Pillars of the church are:
PREACHING AND TEACHING of the word of God, both core and implications of the gospel.
WORSHIP AND PRAYER of the people of God, both privately and corporately.
DISCIPLESHIP of believers that they may grow towards maturity in their faith.
FELLOWSHIP of believers, what community life together in faith is about.
EVANGELISM and efforts for the church to be ambassadors of Christ.
The church is established on these pillars, meaning a church suffers to the extent that any one of the pillars becomes unstable, and as the diagram indicates, the pillars are significantly tied together. For example, if a church does a poor job of discipleship, it’s evangelism will also suffer, as will it’s fellowship. If the preaching and teaching is doctrinally weak, other pillars will suffer as a result.
The point is this - it becomes meaningless for a church to say “One of our corevalues is worship”, since the church cannot remain true to itself without worship. It’s like a person saying “I’ve decided to make oxygen one of my core values.” It’s not a value, its essential to life. In the same way, the pillars are essential to the life of the church, they are not the values of the church. The CORE VALUES relate to each of the pillars as we ask questions like:
“With respect to the pillar of preaching and teaching, what are the things that we VALUE the most?”
That kind of question helps us develop the understanding of our core values, which in turn helps us shape ministry plans, budgets and direction. This is an ongoing process that has been both challenging and rewarding in our recent history at WBC.
At WBC, we speak of vision as the way in which our church imagines themselves most successfully accomplishing the mission within the context of our setting, community and circumstances. Therefore, vision is influenced by those factors, and as they change around us, our vision for the task at hand must be fluid to the purpose of our mission.
In 2005, the church established the following vision statement: