A few days ago I was at a meeting at a church that is not part of my denomination. We were looking at how they use technology to enhance their worship. That part was interesting, but what really caught my attention was something the primary presenter said early on.
They want to make sure that the technology doesn’t become more important than the worship…that it is used to enhance the worship. And in order to ensure that, they have five core values related to their ministry.
- They value excellence over perfection. Perfection is not attainable by human beings–but excellence is. While I don’t think I’d thought of it in those terms, I’ve always said that if you are doing the best you possibly can, then you are bringing ministry.
- They value worship over performance. This one is a big one for me. When I’m sitting, and listening to someone sing / play / preach, I can tell whether the focus is on providing / leading worship…or whether it’s on “Look at me and what I can do / say.”
- They value engagement over observation. In other words, are members of the congregation taking an active part in the worship experience? Or are they being preached at or sung to?
- They value content over style. This one is an interesting one in light of so many battles that are fought today over whether a church should use hymns, praise songs, classical songs, etc., etc., etc. For them no style is off limits. If the content fits and speaks to the worship experience of any given service, then it’s usable.
- They value integrity over ability. At first glance, this one may make one go “Huh?” But for me, it’s tied in with the first one. When one uses a lot of volunteers–as this church does–they pair young people with adults who can help them learn. They provide practice materials as well as physical practice times–and they expect those volunteers to be committed to doing what they agreed to–and to practice so that they can do the best job possible.
There are a lot of different ways values can be expressed. My own faith tradition has what we call “Enduring Principles.” These are principles that describe the “personality” of who we are…and they also provide the foundation for how we worship and–hopefully–how we live in community.
But I love these core worship ministry values and think that whether they were to ever be officially claimed by my faith tradition, they are still valuable for every individual involved in worship planning to consider and hold to.
And perhaps not just worship planners and leaders…but all of us in our attempts to build and live in community.