It was the fall of 2012 and I was excited! I was in my second semester at Reformed Theological Seminary, just two years removed from walking away from the church, and I finally had an assignment that I felt prepared for. The previous nine months included my first ever Greek class, my first ever philosophy class, and a half-dozen theology classes that marked the first half-dozen theology classes I had ever taken. Needless to say that my assignments for those classes were all new territory for me. But I was sitting in a class on church leadership, and our major assignment was to create an initial vision for a church including a list of core values.
This would mark the second time in three years that I was part of an effort to create core values. The first one was a real life experience during my sales career in 2010. But this second one was special. It was special because it hit close to my heart.
I give this background today because the new blog series for Verdae Presbyterian Church will be a series titled “Our Values”, and it will detail the eight core values that mark our church. Often times an organization’s core values can be hard to understand and even harder to articulate. But in reality, a core value is something that should not only be easy to speak about – it should be something seen and felt right away. Core values should be simple. And for a church, like most organizations, core values reflect their vision. Whatever that may be.
So as I began to think in 2012, for the first time, about what core values I would find important in a church, I couldn’t help but think about the category of people I used to belong to – the “de-churched.” The phrase is relatively new, but the concept is not. And it means exactly what it sounds like. Someone who used to be churched that no longer is an active member of a church anywhere. They are de churched. And there are many out there today, in our very city, who are also de-churched.
Now to call yourself de-churched does not mean you aren’t on a roll of a church somewhere. In fact, you probably are! The very definition of de-churched means you used to be an active part of a church. And you probably are still on their roll. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t a believer, although it might. And it doesn’t come with a particular timeline. The 80-year old grandparent who left the church at age 16 and the 23-year old young-professional who hasn’t been in church since college are both de-churched. And there are as many examples and stories as there are people.
The point of the matter is this: it is our vision at Verdae Pres to reach the de-churched community of Greenville, South Carolina. And as a result, our eight core values reflect this vision. They are meant to be simple. They are meant to be understood, not only by our members but also by our visitors. They should impact everything we do as a church. And most importantly, they should reflect our very heart. A heart that is set on reaching the de-churched.
So over the next three months I will be looking at one core value each week. I believe that you will see a connection between the core values themselves and a connection of each core value to our vision of reaching the de-churched community of Greenville. And in the end, I hope that you will see how each one reflects something about the God we worship: Father, Son, and Spirit.
It is hard for me to imagine that it was 5-years ago when I first began to think about these core values. And while they have changed and evolved over these last 60 months, the heart behind them has never wavered. A desire to see the Lord draw His children back into His flock. To re-church the de-churched. And you know what? That is exactly the work that our Father has set out to do!
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
– Luke 15:20, from the Parable of the Prodigal Son