What is the practical, pragmatic purpose for a congregation uncovering its values? Practically speaking, values clarification empowers a local congregation to know its distinctives and what makes it unique. The clarification of values helps people outside Atonement to determine if those values are congruent with their values. Furthermore, value discovery is Godly stewardship in action. It helps the parishioners know where to focus their energy and know how to prioritize its efforts. Value clarification can also motivate and inspire people to action and involvement. They drive and give shape to the decisions made, goals set, and problems addressed. Finally, the clarification of values informs a congregation’s mission and vision.
So what do the parishioners of Atonement value most in this Church? What values shape and guide the Ministry that is done here within the parish and the service that is done for the community? What values are so a part of who Atonement is as a congregation that they are not to be sacrificed as God continues to bless the parish with numerical growth?
As the Pastor I have asked these aforementioned questions of Atonement. I have three values that I would like to share with you even as you consider these questions for yourself. The first core value, along with the other two, is a value that is consistent with the Bible and the Gospel. Yet, it is a “first things first” kind of core value. It is one that all Christian congregations should cherish and never be willing to sacrifice. It is a value that, as a Pastor, I would like to see all the members embrace more and more as individual Christians. That is, I believe that Atonement Lutheran Church values being Christ-centered. We ought to increasingly value being a people that “knows Christ and shares Christ.” We ought to value being faithful followers of Christ and witnessing faithfully to Christ and his love for us.
The second core value that I have identified is that Atonement values its life together. One of my first impressions of Atonement and one of the first impressions of nearly every visitor of Atonement (with whom I have spoken), is that you all enjoy your fellowship with one another. You are warm, friendly, welcoming, and compassionate toward one another and even toward guests and visitors. I believe this is a core value that Atonement wants to hold onto even as she grows numerically.
The third core value that I have identified is that Atonement embraces pastoral care. The parishioners value having a pastor that visits his people and spends time with them in their homes, in the community, and at the Church and its various activities. Furthermore, I believe that Atonement values a Pastor that works hard to “feed” them with the Word of God on Sunday Mornings and at other times. They value a Pastor who strives hard to preach the Gospel, administer the Sacraments, and teach the Christian Faith.
We are a people that are greatly valued by God and so we ought to be a people, a parish, which greatly values him and his gifts. In other words, as Atonement Lutheran Church may we continue to be a people that values more and more our Christ-centeredness, our life together, and our pastoral care. To God be the glory!