Core Values…Why?

It’s been a while since I blogged on the site. Call it whatever you like, but there have been several times I’ve wanted to compose one and just didn’t have the strength to do it (or the inspiration, desire, time, etc.). So here it goes, months later, and the topic is what I’ve been preaching on the past four of five Sundays. Four of five? My wife and I were in Chicago for the Vertical Conference at Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin, Ill. (Pastor James MacDonald’s church) for an amazing time of learning, worshiping, and soul-searching. Needless to say, it was awesome and we came away refreshed, if even in our own souls (which is all that truly counts, right?).
 
Anyway, I’m preaching a series on our Core Values. I did some Google searching on Core Values and this is definitely not a new thing. I’m always interested in what the Bible has to say about two main things: God’s identity (as much as we can know in our limited capacity as humans) and Christian identity. When I’m “on the ropes” in the boxing ring of life, I can often times boil down the issue to a confusion or misunderstanding of one or both of those identities. I’m either confused about who God is and what He’s doing, or I’m confused about who He says I am in Christ Jesus. When I’m prideful, I know it’s a messed up view of who God is and who I am in Christ (double-whammy there if ever there was one). I could go on and on here, but suffice to say that these two issues concern me deeply as I survey the landscape of Church history up to and including 2017.
 
Part of the issue in America, at least, today is one of confused identity. The series that preceded this one in late Spring 2017 was about the broader topic of Christian identity; who does God say that I am as a true follower and imitator of Jesus Christ? That’s important to know. But this new series on DNA and Core Values, I’m getting down to the local body level at Cove Run Church in southwestern PA where I am the sole and senior pastor only one year into full-time ministry. To know why we’re here in this part of our small community and the surrounding communities at large is so vital in our understanding of God’s plan moving into the future! So many churches get stuck in the past, and I don’t understand why. You can’t go back. You can’t relive the so-called “glory days” of the Church (when I use “Church” as a proper name here I mean the universal Church big “C”, not the local “church” little “c”). You can’t be stuck in nostalgia. You can’t wish for a retired pastor from yesteryear to come back. And the list goes on and on. I don’t have a bone to pick here with the past or tradition; both of those elements are crucial to understand where we’ve come from, but the past is there only to inform us of how to proceed into the future!!
 
DNA is the basic building block of all life and it was discovered in the not-so-distant past (1953). It changed the landscape of science and our understanding of how life originated. DNA is a language, a God-given language, mind you. I find God’s use of language so fascinating, and it takes so many forms. There’s the unspoken yet very understandable “body” language; there’s myriad spoken languages using syntax and rules to shape words into sentences that forms (we hope) intelligible discourse; there’s art, another unspoken language; there’s mathematics, the “universal” language; and again, the list goes on and on. DNA makes us unique, is the point, and every local church has a unique personality formed by God’s blessings and gifts in people at that time in history. That’s why churches change…because people and cultures change, sometimes slowly, sometimes very fast.
 
Core Values emerge as we study who we are. At Cove Run, I have a leadership team (formerly known as the “Bored of Administr-…I mean Board of Administration), and I’ve gone through a lengthy and personally challenging process of interviewing each of them by way of published surveys, spiritual gifting tests, and other evaluation tools for churches. Is the process perfect? Well, this is my first time through it (yes, I went through it with them every step), and I can say for sure no church evaluation system will ever be perfect. No multiple choice survey can possibly nail down everyone’s view of a given topic. But it’s a starting point and the goal is to get us to look at the glaring problems that may be evident in our Christian worldview. It also teaches teach-ability, something NO leader can lead without. Anyway, through that process that took months to complete, our Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Values have been revealed, at least on paper. How we hold to these elements, of course, is the final measure of the words on the paper.
 
But again, we have a starting point. Can Core Values change as people change? Sure. But make no mistake of my words here: the core essentials of what it means to be a Christian (lit. “little Christ”) never, ever should change at a church professing to be legitimately Christian. For example, Biblical Instruction is a core value at Cove Run. This absolutely and unapologetically is a core essential of the Christian faith at ANY Bible-believing church, and if it’s not, then that church has compromised on the faith. Even if it were only me, Pastor Branden, who held this value at Cove Run – and I’m not, by the way, thank Jesus – it would still be a core value here. Make sense?
 
Look, we’re all in this together. I don’t have all the answers. These blog posts aren’t my way of saying I know all the answers. I don’t. Plain and simple, I need the same grace, the same mercy, the same forgiveness, the same love, the same Savior Jesus Christ each and every single day of my life to even make it through life. It’s only by those attributes and more that I’m here today writing to you these things, sharing my thoughts and feelings straight from my heart and mind. To God be praised alone. He gives grace upon grace. At the end of my life, all I want to know is that I gave God my all and everything, and the suffering and pain that comes along with sticking as close to Him as possible will all be worth it in the end. If you’re reading this and you’ve never made the decision to follow Jesus, contact me, I’ll share my story with you. That’s all. I won’t preach at you, I just want to share the hope that is within me. Thank you, God bless, and to Him alone be praised.
 
Serving faithfully,
 
Pastor Branden T. Robertson

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