Detail warning - this post has detailed notes about what we actually did on our Saturday Core Values workshop. Go to the previous post if you are already bored.
We brought in a consultant, Reb Scarbrough, to help us on our journey toward discerning God’s call for our future. Forty of our Ascensionites gathered to hash out core values. Core values are the values that we actually practice and not what we hope to be. The hope-to-be stuff comes later in our vision and mission work. The day was exactly like Vision Quest (my favorite movie as a high school sophomore wrestler). Underdog wrestler loses 20 lbs to wrestle the demigod Shute to the rockin’ background of Madonna and Journey. So yes, our meeting was exactly like that, if by exactly, you replace grueling workouts and a 500 calorie daily diet, with kolaches, workshop handouts, and church fellowship around six circular tables. Louden beat Shute and we beat business as usual.
In the beginning we started out in groups of six writing a “book” about Ascension.
Chapter 1 Why were we founded?
Because the Bishop said so. Not really - we used to be out in the middle of nowhere and Westheimer ended two miles to the east of us. Episcopalians were tired of stealthing at the local Methodist church and the Bishop was keen to support them.
Chapter 2 What we do well internally?
We have always been Jesus freaks and bible fanatics. Christ is at the center of our lives and scripture is our guide. Also, Ascension-as-refuge has always been important for us. We are a sanctuary for all and a place for people to have a church family.
Chapter 3 What do we do outside the church walls?
Our consultant remarked on how many events and ministries we engage for outreach. This was neither negative nor positive. My hunch is that we need a clearer sense of outreach so that we can clearly and cleanly do the work of Jesus in the world. I am pretty sure as we get more and more focused we may do more or less outreach but we will have guiding principle and themes for why we reach out.
Chapter 4 Why do we do what we do?
“Cuz we care” was one group’s summary. We do it for the glory of God and the care of souls. It is our joy and duty to proclaim the love of God to those inside and outside our church.
2/3rds of the group went on with their day and the smaller group had the daunting task of distilling two hours of controlled mind spill into a working set of core values. The smaller group made several passes at “Book of Ascension” trying to distill the essence of the work. First, we made summaries from the five different books made by the larger group and tried to come up with repeating themes.
After we had the summaries of the books, groups of three broke out to actually discern and write out a working draft of our core values. This working draft turned out to be largely similar to what we created seven years ago. To my mind the new version has cleaned up and clarified the prior language about our values. We also added diversity as an explicit core value. It’s important to us to welcome everyone regardless of background and we cherish that we have members from a variety of cultures.
This is the working draft of our work on Saturday:
We are called by God to worship and enlarge His Kingdom in the living tradition of the Book of Common Prayer, practice of the Sacraments, biblical principles, and joyful praise.
We grow spiritually through worship, fellowship and education.
We create opportunities to build relationships and nurture one another in the love of Christ as we welcome the community into our family of faith.
Mission and Outreach
We proclaim the love of Christ through prayer and compassionate service to the larger community.
We embrace our diversity by welcoming all and sharing our common faith.
Core Values from seven years ago with a little of my commentary
If you were wondering about the older ones, they are:
Love for the Truth and Authority of the Living Word of God.
Christian Development: Making disciples of Christ of people of all ages through Christian education and evangelism.
Mission and Outreach: Proclaiming the love of Christ through prayer and compassionate service to the larger community.
we did not change anything we liked it so much.
Worship: Exalting Christ in Anglican worship and praise as set forth by the Book of Common Prayer.
Anglican had multiple and confusing meanings for people. i.e. are a church with African oversight? Are we not really connected to the Episcopal church? Are we Church of England? Also, we included “tradition” in the core value of worship. The word tradition caused a lot of faces to wrinkle in equal parts confusion and distaste. I offered the somewhat vague description of “living-tradition” to communicate that we value our heritage but are not stuck in 1979, 1928 or some other ‘better’ past. If you push me too hard I will look piously to the heavens and say, “living tradition helps us encounter the mystery of the church while standing on a three legged stool” or “I dunno.”
Fellowship Welcoming others and nurturing one another in the love of Christ.
It was a lot of fun and everyone who came was energized and refreshed by our work and I pray it spreads to others as we continue.