In planting a church, it is helpful to identify some core values that help define the new church. What makes the church significant? Why will the church be what it is and do the things that is does? What are some principles the church will hold tightly?
It is important to note that a core value is NOT a core value if your actions do not reflect what you say you value. To many people, organizations, and churches fall into the trap of saying they value certain principles, while their actions either fail to validate their claims, or even contradict their claims. If a church makes this mistake, they will come across as disingenuous and inauthentic.
Knowing this, it is important to know what you should value early, and then measure what you do against your stated values. These values can serve as measurements of accountability towards those things you recognize as most important. It is easy for an individual, church, or organization to state their values, yet have no accountability to see whether your actions verify the truth of your words. This a big reason why the early participants of this church planting endeavor are taking time to discuss core values. Do we really mean these are our values? And are we willing to be held accountable to these beliefs?
We have already discussed, in no specific order, Sent Living and Family Focused. Next we looked at Bible Sufficiency as a core value. The Bible is God’s Word intended to transform lives into the image of Jesus Christ. The Bible claims to be spoken directly from God through holy men as human instruments of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It claims to be infallible and is without error. If we believe the Bible, then we should believe what it says about itself.
Furthermore, because we believe the Bible, we should trust the biblical text in all matters of life. God’s Word is not only inerrant and infallible, but it is sufficient for all areas of life. As a church, a primary means for this to happen is through preaching/teaching that is text-driven and Spirit-empowered such that the main point of the biblical text is the main point of the message.
One of the best ways to demonstrate this core value is through expository preaching. “An expository message gets its main points and its sub-points directly from the text” with the intent of saying “precisely what a [Bible] passage says according to the intent of the [biblical] author.”1 The aim of this kind of preaching seeks to explain and apply the meaning of the Bible to life.
Biblical principles are best understood when interpreted in the context they were written. Most erroneous doctrine and dangerous teaching taught today is the result of interpretations taken out of context as they appear in the Bible. Correct Bible preaching and teaching must take responsibility to minimize personal opinions and deliver biblical truth. Expository preaching is evident when the communicator helps his listeners see that his message is text-driven by exposing (hence expository) his points and subpoints in his message in the biblical text.
Not only does this method assist in preventing erroneous beliefs, it also assists the listener to depend on the sufficiency of the source of the message (God and the Bible) and NOT the communicator of the message (the preacher/teacher). Godly preaching/teaching makes much of God and His Word and makes little of the preacher/teacher.
1 Bryan Chapell is president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, author of “Christ-Centered Preaching,” and a contributing editor to Preaching Today audio tapes.