As mentioned in the last bloggage, at Mutley Baptist Church we have adopted a new set of values. We discerned them after an exercise I call ‘The Ideal Church Exhibition’. We got into groups of different ages around tables, were given a big sheet of paper and some pens, and were asked to draw the ideal church. There were no limits on what could be drawn (except the size of the paper) and no financial or planning constraints.
What the church came up with was a wide range of different drawings, words, diagrams and concepts. And what we find, as we look at them, is that behind the images are values. For example: a drawing of a church with a big cross shows that we want Jesus to be at the centre of things; a community space shows that we want to serve the people around us.
From those drawings we discerned six values, which we then adopted at our next Church Meeting:
Jesus calls us to love God and love people, and to be a community of his followers who are:
Like Jesus: a prayerful God-focused people who seek and celebrate God whether we are gathered together or dispersed; doing everything to honour and worship God; listening to God through the Bible; and responding to the innovative prompting of the Spirit of God.
Like Jesus: celebrating and affirming every person and refusing to discriminate; valuing everyone and being accessible to all; ensuring everyone has a safe place in God’s family; and especially caring for and welcoming those who have been marginalised.
Like Jesus: unashamedly and relevantly speaking God’s truth, striving for justice, caring for the environment and actively challenging the abuse of power, wealth, status and privilege.
Like Jesus: becoming vulnerable in serving others, and generously reflecting the generosity of God – giving our time, gifts, expertise and resources to serve God and others.
Like Jesus: caring for and loving people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest; through our words and actions embodying and bringing the transforming love of God to our local community in Mutley, to Plymouth, the UK and the wider world.
Like Jesus: enjoying and appreciating life in all its fullness, using our God-given talents to express ourselves and to communicate his truth, and looking imaginatively with the eyes of faith to discern and follow God’s will.
We seek God’s Spirit’s help for us to embody these values, and humbly we seek and offer forgiveness for the times when we fail to do so.
It may be worth pointing out a couple of things. First of all, our overarching aim as a church is to love God and love people. That may be simplistic, but it’s a succinct summary of what the Bible teaches us about what Jesus-followers should be doing.
Secondly, each value is focused on Jesus. When you look at him in the Bible you see him showing and teaching these values, and we want to be like him as a church family. He is both our example, our guide, our teacher, our friend and our Lord (to use a Bible word). As his followers, we seek to be more like him, as his Spirit helps us.
And that’s point 3 – we can’t do this on our own. We need God’s Spirit’s help to change and embody these values, and also we need to recognise before God and with each other that there have been, are, and will be times when we fail to live up to them. At those times humility, forgiveness and reconciliation are essential.
I’ll probably unpack these over the next few weeks.
I wonder what your values are – as an individual and as a church (if you are part of one).
Be blessed, be a blessing