People agree with your vision and mission in word but getting them to participate, well, that isn’t as easy. Where you spend your time is the embodiment of what is important to you—what you value. Identifying embodied values in yourself and those of your community is a key component of effective visioncasting. 

Traditional Wisdom

exercise to identify values

Most writers on leadership address the perennial questions of vision, mission, and values—as they should. Knowing where you want to go—and why—is essential for getting there. Much of what you can read on the subject is the same, and legitimately helpful in most cases. As I read a recent post by Carey Nieuwhof, I found an exercise on values that I’d not heard of before, and one that has proven quite useful. 

Something New on Values

You can read the entire post, HERE. In summary, the exercise suggested that after thinking through the values you have for your church (an essential first step for anyone) you could then identify the people in your church that most embody what you think the church is all about or should be all about. Then identify the people that don’t embody those values. These are the people you’d like to see change, or honestly, even leave. Next, burn those notes. 

It’s a powerful exercise because words translate aspirational values. People resonate with what’s real. 

It helps you zero in on what is in your heart and in some cases you can identify blockages to the mission and vision. Adding to Nieuwhof’s exercise, I find focusing on behavior especially helpful. In doing so you can figure out the value that is being represented and then how that can be encouraged or addressed biblically. 

The Values Exercise Applied

When I did the exercise myself, I was surprised by the visceral reactions to both the upside and downside. I thought of one man who, along with his wife, brings neighborhood kids to church, helps refugees, and opens his garage door to serve as a safe gathering place for neighborhood kids. I thought of another woman who lives far from the church, but nevertheless feels called to help with spiritual gifts assessment and ministry placement and serves tirelessly in this capacity. It was life giving to recognize kindred spirits, so to speak. These people live the vision and mission of the church.

I also identified people who make me uncomfortable. It was equally valuable to think through their behaviors—how they spend their time—and in doing so discover their values. The negatives often highlight misunderstandings about God and biblical principles. These are important to study and address with compassion and clarity in order to help your community grow.

Coaching Application

Since reading the article and trying it myself, I’ve had some coaching clients try it and have found that the exercise works brilliantly for clarifying values. Here are some adaptations I have used with my coaching clients:

  • Write out what your church would look like if people fully lived into the stated mission, vision, and values. 
    • What would be happening? 
    • What behaviors would you be seeing? 
    • Which ministries would be thriving? 
  • If the current and actual values (demonstrated by behavior) continued to go on, write out what the church would look like.
    • What would be happening?
    • Which ministries would be thriving? Which one(s) would be struggling? 
    • What changes would you need to make to get on track with the vision and mission?

By putting real people, faces, and behaviors to your values, you can see much more clearly what you are aiming for… and what you are not aiming for. It also gives you clear direction for teaching that meets people where they are at and helps them take their next best steps in faith. 


Do you find yourself in a continuous loop of change? Things need to change and you know it but no matter what you try it just doesn’t stick? It might be time to brush up on your change management skills. The Change Management Effectiveness Profile helps identify your strengths and areas for development. Armed with that knowledge you can target your growth using the Change Management Effectiveness Skills Builder. If you—and your congregation—need to break the cycle and move forward with positive change, I cannot recommend these resources enough.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash