The Core Values of Louisville Evangelical Free Church
Imagine that you and several friends wanted to take a vacation together. You would talk about your time availability, your available budget, where you would want to go and what you would want to do. More than likely, you’d disagree on some things: one person loves a vacation that is quiet, near a lake, and includes reading books. Another wants to go to the mountains, hike every day, and play board games. Another wants to go to a theme park. Yet another wants to visit lots of historical landmarks. Do you see the problem? People have different values, and those values might be in conflict with each other. The values might be so strong that some friends might choose to go on a different vacation. And that’s ok. Everybody doesn’t need to have the same values.
Churches have a similar dilemma: people have lots of differing ministry values that frankly can’t all be done at the same time. It might well be that each of those values are good in their own right…but they don’t function well together. If a church tried to appeal to every value and every ministry, frustration, exhaustion, and ineffectiveness would result. Instead of trying to do everything, we chose to focus on a few ministry practices that are guided by the parameters of our Core Values.
These Core Values in no way reflect everything we value. Rather, they embody a few aspects of our church life that we want to make sure to not miss. If you can imagine a list of 87 values designed to guide a ministry, you can imagine how such a long list would result in nearly complete neglect: one just can’t keep that many things in focus at all times. We have chosen just four Core Values. These Core Values focus our energy and define how we do things. We are not holding up these Core Values as more “spiritual” than others; rather, we have chosen these values as uniquely guiding our ministry and things we want to aspire towards.
Graciousness. Following Jesus is a journey in humility and grace. We want to humbly depend upon God’s grace and humbly extend God’s grace to others.
Togetherness. Following Jesus is not a solo journey. By following Jesus together, our differences help us follow him better.
Engagement. Following Jesus is a journey of prayerful, intentional community engagement. What matters most is people finding Jesus and people find Jesus through relationships.
Reproducing. Following Jesus is a journey of reproducing gospel communities. We want to see this reproduction happen at every level – from life groups to starting other churches.
Why do we want these four values to focus our direction? We want to target graciousness because it is easy to slide into living a life of Christian “shoulds” – we should do something because that’s what good Christians do. And this attitude is fertile ground for thinking better of ourselves and looking down on others as well as not relying on the gospel for our salvation. We want to instead be increasingly dependent upon God’s grace which will make us gracious towards others. As for togetherness, we realize that it is easier for us to be individualistic than corporate in our spiritual journey. God uses the diverse personalities, gifts, ages, and backgrounds which he gave us to grow us into Christ’s likeness through the relational context of the local church. We need each other. Because it’s so easy to think about me, we need to be intentional in the us of spiritual growth. Engagement is our third value because we as Christians gravitate towards spending time with other Christians. We can so fill our time with Christian activities that we cut ourselves off from the people who need Jesus. We want to place ourselves in our community in intentional ways. And finally, we have the goal of reproducing because unless we plan for reaching other people, we will be content to pursue a fulfilling church experience just among ourselves. But our mission is to make disciples. And that takes intentionality.