How To Define Your Church Core Values In 5 Simple Steps

As a pastor or leader, identifying church core values is a great way to prioritize the principles that ideally guide your team effectively. 

Core values provide a “voice” in the community and a language for communicating how you operate. Determining the core values of a church does not have to be complicated and is essential work. So, how do you do it? 

To create a list of core values that help your church thrive, you must ask some basic questions.  Answering these questions can help you identify the values that support the mission and shape the culture of your team.

If you’re ready to create a list of core values for your church, use the step-by-step guide below.  First, briefly review the following content to dig deeper into why core values are essential to a church.

One more thing, I’m willing to bet that most of the readers of this post are an executive pastor, elder, or team member different than the lead pastor.  If so, that is great, and you are doing your job!  However, for this process to work, total buy-in must occur from the top-down.

The best values efforts are driven by small teams that include the CEO, any founders who are still with the company, and a handful of key employees. –Patrick M. Lencioni

It is not worth scratching and clawing through a process that the senior leader is not ready for or does not understand.  Ensure that your leader wants to go through the process and commits to identifying and sharing the core values.

church values

What Is the Purpose Of Core Values In A Church?

Establishing the core values of a church is a powerful way to communicate how the people within the organization perform and interact together. Church core values are brief statements that convey beliefs and guide decisions.  When a church defines and communicates its core values, it benefits the leaders, team, and congregation.

Identifying Church Core Values Can Simplify Complex Communication In 4 Key Areas With Others:

  1. Articulating the core values defines the culture of your church
  2. Core values establish guidelines for how the team behaves and treats one another
  3. When a church publishes and communicates its values, it allows others who believe the same thing to participate in the vision quickly and for those who do not to exit.
  4. Referring to the core values of your church makes decision-making easier

Core values represent what’s most important to us. They’re principles that we adhere to in life: our personal code of

Core values can set your church apart and help build a community that believes in the mission and understands how to serve as a member of the organization.

How to Define Your Church Core Values Step By Step

Now that you know why and have discussed the necessity of updating or clarifying your church’s core values, it’s time to start. Follow the simple steps-step instructions below. 

1. Involve The Right People (Including the Lead Pastor)

Gather the lead pastor and a handful of other key leaders (5-8 people is ideal).  The most productive conversations about identifying the core values will occur within a smaller group of people intimately invested in the church and who help steer decision-making.

 2. Communicate The Expectations Concerning The Formation Of The Core Values

Plan on this entire process taking time.  Set a goal date to finalize (no more than two months is necessary).  It is best not to rush and allow reflection, revision, and ongoing discussion.

Schedule an initial meeting to brainstorm and record potential core values for your church to adopt.  It is best to revisit the conversation more frequently while ideas are fresh early in the process.  Set aside an hour meeting twice weekly for the first couple of weeks.  If necessary, continue to schedule weekly or bi-weekly meetings until the deadline.

3. As A Group, Brainstorm And Write Down Important Values

Use a whiteboard or sticky notes and ask everyone to write down values they believe are essential to the church.

4. To Further Explore Potential Core Values, Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Asking questions about central aspects of your church can be a great way to uncover the values that genuinely motivate action.

Who is a volunteer or team member that you wish you could duplicate?  Think of this person and pinpoint what makes them so valuable and why you appreciate them so much—identifying what makes this person special can reveal values that are meaningful to you.

values in church

In what ways does your church serve the community? Does your church lead mission trips to help impoverished communities?  Do you heavily invest in missionaries or church planters?  Is NexGen ministry a priority or point of focus?  Considering how your church engages in service can help illustrate essential core values.

Some other types of community engagement include: 

  • Clothing drives
  • Family events
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship or Bible Study
  • Worship events

Identifying areas with strong engagement and passion can clarify additional values.

Your team must be 100% honest at this point.  If your team struggles to identify your church’s outreach efforts, note that this should become an aspirational value.

It is essential to distinguish between core values and aspirational values. Core values already exist within the organization and are supported with action and resources.  Leaders must build aspirational values with time, budget, and vision.

What churches do we learn from and inspire us?  What aspects of these churches do you admire?  Is it their level of creativity?  Does their teamwork motivate you to be a better leader?  Whatever it is, consider if there are similarities between both churches and articulate why these values inspire you.

Don’t copy another church’s list, but let it inspire you. Find ways that you are similar or different from other churches and discuss why.  You will find behaviors, beliefs, and ways your church is unique.

Do key volunteers and trustworthy members of the church have input?  Asking a small focus group of faithful people to share what values they believe the church most exemplifies can be a worthwhile exercise.

Knowing that pastors and leaders consider and care about their input can result in long-term relationships and fruit. You can gain great insight from church members by asking about their perspectives and thoughts. Plus, opening this conversation up with the right individuals can create tremendous buy-in after sharing the final version of the core values.

Culture Building Handbook Information

5.  Clarify The List of Core Values

Now you’re ready to start drafting your final list of church core values.  Within the small group of leaders you began this process with, use the step-by-step directions to refine the core values for your church: 

  • Group the list of values into categories that share similarities
  • Choose from the list 3-5 values that most reflect the heart of your church
  • Draft clarifying statements for each core value. 

Core values should not be confusing.  Do not forsake clarity for fancy or clever working.  The idea is that anyone who reads or hears the church’s core values should immediately understand.

After refining and agreeing upon the final version from the top-down, it is time to communicate them. 

It’s a good idea to put the core values on your church website and strategically post them around your church building for others to see.  Your church’s core values should be reviewed as often as possible by sharing them during meetings, leadership training, and assimilating new church members.

Church Core Values Examples

5 Exceptional Examples Of Church Core Values

These examples are from a list of core values each church has crafted to support the culture and mission of its team. These ideas should help you come up with your list as well.

church core values examples

What Are Some Core Values Of A Healthy Church?

A church with healthy core values and a clear mission statement will have a strong sense of identity and community. Some popular values of a healthy church include: 

  • Outreach
  • Worship
  • Excellence
  • Honesty
  • Gratitude
  • Community

You can then translate these simple core values into your core value statements. Below are statements using the values above that you can use to help you draft your own: 

  • “We give more than we take.” 
  • “Our church and our mission centers around Christ and his teachings.” 
  • “We bring our best in all that we do.” 
  • “Our honesty sets us apart.” 
  • “We are grateful for the community we live in.”
  • “We value and treat others with respect.” 

Your values statements should communicate what you believe in and can even act as an invitation for others to join in upholding the same beliefs. They can also provide your current church members a framework for interacting as a congregation.

Church Core Values Conclusion

Your church’s core values are an essential part of church communication. They are a powerful way to share the beliefs and behavior of your church.  However, the real power in church core values is when the leaders of the organization model and exemplify them consistently.  

Any church can benefit from identifying its core values; no two church value statements need to be the same. Your values are unique, as is your place of worship within the Church at large!

Could you use more help in crafting and creating compelling messaging? Including your weekend sermons? Check out the following posts:

How To Write Compelling Church Vision Statements In 6 Simple Steps

How To Clarify Church Mission Statements In 5 Easy Steps

How To Prepare An Effective Message In 7 Steps

How To Prepare An Engaging Message (Sermon) Series In 4 Steps