Note: This article is excerpted from our resource Improving Communication for Effective Small-Group Ministry.
When is the last time you heard a small-group director or pastor say, "I don't really care what our leaders do as long as they show up with a pulse and clothes on."? I imagine this isn't a common experience.
Instead, we all have aims for our ministries, and we have a longing desire for our people to "get it." We want our leaders, coaches, apprentices, small-group participants, and weekend attendees to really get what we are about. But how do we communicate our values in a way that is compelling and clear?
Know Your Values
At Community Christian Church, a multi-site church with 12 locations around Chicago, we have three values we want every small group to live out. We refer to these values as the Jesus Mission: Reach, Restore, Reproduce.
- Reach people far from God. Alan Hirsch, co-author of On the Verge with Dave Ferguson, suggests that 60 percent of people will never enter the doors of our current forms of church. Because of that, we need to allow our imaginations to be profoundly shaped by the doctrine of Missio Dei—the incarnation of God in Jesus, God sending us as he sent himself in Jesus. Matthew 28 says to "Go!" and we are challenging ourselves at COMMUNITY to be a church who will reach people who are far from God.
- Restore God's dream for the world. A common perception among non-Christians is that Christ-followers talk about poverty and justice issues, but don't do much to address those issues. However, as we read Luke 4:17-18, it is clear Jesus expects us to change that perception: "The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.'" It is our mission at COMMUNITY to be a people who restore God's dream for the world.
- Reproduce the mission in others. If we are going to live the Jesus Mission and go to "to the ends of the earth," we have to find a way that results in rapid reproduction and exponential growth. When we follow the biblical example from 2 Timothy 2:2, the result can be the beginning of a missional church movement. It is through apprenticeships that we will reproduce the mission in others.
Communicate Your Values
To have values like these is one thing, but communicating them to your leaders is another. Here are five tools we've found helpful.
Every month we bring together our apprentices, leaders, coaches, and staff for Leadership Community. At Leadership Community, we facilitate an environment of learning, coaching, inspiration, and encouragement. Carl George talks about this in The Coming Church Revolution and suggests a format he calls VHS (vision, huddle, skill). This is the format we build upon. We want to make sure we provide a time of vision casting, a time of coaching or encouragement, and a time of training at each Leadership Community gathering.
Leadership Community helps take the values we have and inspires people to get it! We tell stories of groups who are living out the values of Reach, Restore, and Reproduce. When we have a group that is engaged in the community, a group that is helping people find their way back to God, or a group that has an apprentice that is being developed to start a new group, we tell the story through an interview format either in person or on video. These real-life stories reinforce our values.