To help facilitate the identification of core values, it can be helpful to start with behaviors and then work backwards. This process results in actual values rather than desired values. Actual values are those lived out in behaviors, while desired values are those that sound good that we’d like to be living out.
When asked about values, people often say the right things. We say what our values should be. But we also need to be honest about what they really are right now. What do our current behaviors say about our real values? Start with where you are, then compare that with where God wants you to be. Often there is a gap that needs addressing. We can be honest about that and take steps to grow in it.
Begin by giving each member of the team a pre-questionnaire to fill out separately, then bring them together as a team to discuss and see the similarities. The pre-questionnaire should focus on behaviors. What behaviors do we appreciate? What behaviors do we affirm? What behaviors are characteristic of us? What is it we do well? What would the surrounding community lose if our ministry closed its doors tomorrow?
This approach will provide actual values rather than desired ones, and it also makes the process less abstract. Potentially your team could have generated a list of 100 or so behaviors. An example of a concrete behavior might be “laying on hands and praying for people.”
From behaviors, we can reverse-engineer our way backwards into some helpful values categories… the subject of our next entry.