Community Core Values
PCF Community Core Values – John Mullen
We have organized the core values we share at PCF in three categories and are publishing them in the PCF Post. This article is the second of three – PCF Spiritual Core Values, PCF Community Core Values, and PCF Worldview Core Values.
Values unite us by creating a common set of beliefs and desires. The common idiom, “we are on the same page,” describes the unity found in shared values. Rules on the other hand, tend to divide. They also produce guilt, shame and invoke the human tendency to punish. In an interview Rick Warren (founder of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life) commented: “In the Body of Christ, we are a body, not a business. I’m totally against the corporate model of organization. We are an organism, not an organization. We are a family, and families aren’t based on policies, but on relationships, and the greater the relationship, the greater the trust. When I first got married to Kay, we had all these rules about how you fold the towels, how you squeeze the toothpaste. I’ve been married thirty years now, and we don’t have all those rules now. The only rule is ‘Always tell the truth.’ The greater the relationship, the fewer rules you need. So, as I look at what God has blessed, I would say that you try to create elements that preserve the vision and values without creating the rules. The moment you get into rules, you become a bureaucracy, and that’s the kiss of death.”
Core values are the primary beliefs that shape our view of the world. They impact how we interpret our environment. As Christians our view of God colors everything we see and experience. But also, the Scriptures define for us the way we live together in community. They also challenge us to see the world as God does. Since His passion is to reconcile the world to Himself, our relationship with God motivates us to be in a godly-relationship with His world. Our relationship with God also motivates us to be in godly-relationships with each other. In summary the love of God changes how we relate to God, to other Christians, and to non-believers (the world). Therefore, our core values must flow from these three. The following is the second – PCF Community Core Values.
“The Scriptures define for us the way we live together in community”
1. We value gathering together
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).
The love of Christ transformed the first Christians. In these verses we see the four pillars that characterized the strength of the early church: teaching, fellowship, reflection, and prayer. The first core value defines how we share our lives together. We share our lives together in our homes as well as in corporate gatherings.
PCF’s vision statement is to be a family of God to extend the kingdom of God. The main way we do that is via gathering together outside of the Sunday worship service. Similarly, our Czech denomination (a loose alliance of independent churches) all have in common gathering corporately each week AND meeting in small groups during the week. As human beings we need rhythm in our lives. Weekly corporate gatherings and home fellowships are a necessary part of that rhythm. It is how we practically worship, walk, work, and witness together.
2. We value our differences
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
The second core value relates to how we embrace each other. Maybe the most obvious challenge would be the cultural diversity of our community and the implications of it. Since we all come from somewhere else and from some other Christian tradition, church can’t be like it was “back home” for any of us.
We embrace each other by appreciating our God-given differences. We come from many countries, cultures and denominational traditions. Those believers God sends us affect our community’s expression. Beyond our commitment to Christ and holding that Scripture is trustworthy and the authority for our lives, we express “embracing each other” in many ways. Even if we all came from, say, a Baptist background… Baptist means different things in different parts of the world. In order to live together in community, we have to learn to appreciate one another’s story and extend a LOT of grace. Actually, it goes further than that. It means we not only embrace, but we also appreciate those people who God calls to our community. With each new member, we become different because we appreciate their history, traditions, and passions. We don’t want people to conform or “fit in” at PCF, but rather, we want PCF to conform to those God has sent us. In fact, God speaks to us by those He sends to our community. Our vision remains the same, but how we work out that vision varies with the changes in our membership (defined by people who say this is my current/local fellowship).
3. We value each other
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10).
The third core value expresses how we see each other. Anyone who has attended our Sunday services has probably noticed something unique to PCF – so many people are involved in the service. That is by design and actually is harder to facilitate than the typical “professional” model where the clergy perform all the ministry.
We believe that each person has something unique to contribute and, as such, should be valued as they have been given gifts and talents by the Holy Spirit to build up the Kingdom. Now, that may not sound very unique, but how many Christian communities put that idea into practice? The typical mode of apparatus in most churches is that the professional people do the “ministry,” and the lay people are spectators watching from the pews. Most believers do not realize how important they are to the Kingdom. They have no idea that they have an important role to play – that they have something to offer to the whole Christian community. If each believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, then it makes sense that each believer has something to contribute. We call PCF “the church of the first-timers.” Many people are stepping out in faith to do new attempts at ministry, and it is not going to be perfect. However, we value each other more than perfection.
4. We value authenticity
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:16-17)!
The forth core value defines how we relate to one another. Many communities in the West are characterized by “looking good.” The church culture says, “to have acceptance here you need to have your act together.” Since we all want acceptance, the name of the game is to keep up appearances. It creates an environment where people have difficulty being honest with themselves and with others. Living “in the light” is the first step towards healing.
We value authenticity, and we view each other from a paradigm of grace rather than condemnation. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous (Rom. 3:23-24). If there is something called the “perfect” church, we are on the other end of the spectrum. We are a “messy” community in the sense that we seek a church community where people don’t fear rejection for not being “perfect.” It is better for others to struggle and work through their issues in the context of community rather than in the context of the local pub (bartenders are known for being more gracious than Christian communities). Healing and growth take time and require both grace and truth from the people around them.
We also value our God-given cultural and spiritual diversity as we seek to live out our faith in authenticity as well as obedience to His Word. There is truth on many issues that we cannot compromise, but just knowing the truth is not enough. We also need grace and time as the Holy Spirit works in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ. We need to extend grace and time to our fellow sojourners. “Religion” tends to treat sin as failure and tries to “help out” the Holy Spirit by adding some shame and rejection. However, the Spirit knows what He is doing (John 16:8). We should be working with Him and complementing His ministry with acceptance, encouragement and reconciliation.
5. We value generosity
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others (1 Tim 6:17-18).
The fifth core value relates to living dependently rather than independently. The original sin was desiring to live independent of God. Independence not only impacts our relationship with God but also our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the ways we demonstrate dependence upon each other is to contribute to the needs of the Body of Christ.
We view generosity as not only important to the early church, but necessary for us to live in dependence on one another. Giving to one another is an essential way to share our lives together. The biblical way to contribute is to give of ourselves (serving) and our resources (tithing) to meet the needs of the community of faith, the needs of individual members, and the work of extending the kingdom of God. It comes down to radically valuing each other over possessions. The early church had a powerful testimony among non-believers, not only because of the miraculous signs done by the apostles and others, but also because of the way members of the fellowship loved each other by caring for each other, and how they put the Lord first in word and deed. Selfless commitment is the prevalent attitude we see in the early church, and it is something that is born out of love for one another and for God.
Expressing core values is a way to seek unity. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity (Ps. 133:1). That is our desire as we share our heart regarding living out our faith together in this community. In the midst of our diversity it is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree with everything. However, as the pastors, elders and leaders are engaging the community, these values are something you can expect to see worked out in our daily community life.
PCF COMMUNITY CORE VALUES SUMMARY
1. We share our lives together in our homes as well as in corporate gatherings.
2. We embrace each other by appreciating our God-given differences.
3. We believe that each person has something unique to contribute and, as such, should be valued as they have been given gifts and talents by the Holy Spirit to build up the Kingdom.
4. We value authenticity, and we view each other from a paradigm of grace rather than condemnation. We also value our God-given cultural and spiritual diversity as we seek to live out our faith in authenticity as well as obedience to His Word
5. We view generosity as not only important to the early church, but necessary for us to live in dependence on one another.