The Importance of Values in Shaping the Culture of Your Church

The Power of a Discipleship Culture

Our visitors commonly ask, “How much staff does it take to run a church of this size?” They’re often surprised to learn it’s less than 400—less than half a percent of the number of people who attend our services. It’s a telling illustration of the power of discipleship. In our experience, because the church is full of disciples, we don’t struggle with volunteer shortages for kid’s ministry, worship leading, ushering, administrative services and other activities. And from this pool of disciples, we are able to raise up future church planters, missionaries and pastors.

Disciples have clear values and don’t need coaxing, intimidation or manipulation to get them to serve. They willingly give of themselves to the work of ministry. They do it because it is valuable to them. It’s their culture. Even more amazing is how discipleship happens at every level of the church.

I recently heard a story about how a 12-year-old girl who serves in our kids’ ministry engaged her next-door neighbor. In time, the girl invited her neighbor to church and also took the responsibility of making her friend a follower of Christ. After her friend received the Lord, she invited her parents to come. Initially, they were reluctant, but they eventually came and are now members of the church. Her father has become a follower of Christ who now makes disciples.

Then there’s the story of a businessman in the city who heard of an opportunity to play his beloved instrument during our Sunday worship. After signing up as a volunteer, he was asked if he had gone through “One to One” with anyone—our starting point for engaging visitors that eventually leads into a small group and the rest of the discipleship process. Today, he plays on Sundays and he, too, makes disciples.

Our church has thousands of similar stories of discipleship. The point I’m trying to make here is that stories like these happen just as a part of our church’s culture. While these two stories centered on Sunday morning, the majority of them take place in the course of people’s day-to-day lives.

Now imagine if your church had a culture of discipleship and that every year 20 percent to 25 percent of these disciples made disciples. At this growth rate, your church could double every 3 1/2 years. This is the power of discipleship.

Developing a Discipleship Culture

Over the last five years we’ve all heard the discussion about Western Christianity’s decline. I tend to think that even as cultural, popular Christianity wanes, a burgeoning of true Christianity is happening—the kind that makes disciples. But to see this growing shift expand, we need to make changes. As I said earlier, the starting point is a change in values among leaders and members because values deal with the heart. As long as we value comfort and convenience, money and materials over our relationship with God and people, nothing much will change.

I like how Kevin York, the executive director of Every Nation Ministries (the churchmovement I’m privileged to be a part of), fleshes out the discipleship and values connection: “As long as you aim for your values, you will most likely hit your vision, mission and programs.”

He explains that having discipleship as our main value allowed us to come up with the right vision, mission and programs. Many discipleship ventures fizzle out in churches and among Christians because they are vision-based, mission-focused and program-driven rather than centered on values.

It’s from our values that we glean the appropriate principles and processes. Let me give you a few examples:

● Financial principles are based on monetary and gold values.

● Corporate principles are based on their founders’ and boards’ values.

● Marketing principles are shaped by customer values.

● Christian principles are founded on what God values.

So what does God value?

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Joey Bonifacio

Joey Bonifacio

Joey Bonifacio is Director for Asia of  Every Nation Ministries. Every Nation is a worldwide family of churches and ministries that exists to Honor God by planting Christ-centered, Spirit empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation. He is a member of the team that oversees  Victory, a local church in Manila and a movement of churches in the Philippines and the Senior Pastor of Victory Fort at Bonifacio Global City. He is Chairman of the Real Life Foundation, a Philippine based NGO that provides educational scholarship to the underprivileged. He is happily married to Marie for 30 years now and has three adult sons, Joseph who is married to Carla, David and Joshua. And adopted a cute little dog named  Vito.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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