Core Vales Matter and they shape everything you do.
I just got back from spending three days at Group Publishing Headquarters for their reGroup conference and it was a fantastic time of fellowship with the staff of Group I’ve gotten to know and appreciate over the years, some Kidology friends both that I’ve known and some I got to meet for the first time, and as always, I got to make new friends. I may still blog more about reGroup – but here I wanted to write about something that struck me about the power of Core Values while at this event during a tour of the Group Headquarters.
I’m often in an odd spot in the CM world – I play on a lot of teams, even as we all play on the same Kingdom Team. And as such, I often get to know many ministries and companies on the inside at times better than they perhaps get to know each other. For example, I am on the board of directors of, and write DiscipleTown, for DiscipleLand Publishers, while also being an author and columnist for Group Publishing (CM Mag and CM Professional Edition).
I also serve as a consultant to many Christian business organizations in the area of strategic ministry planning, financial planning, product development, web presence, online marketing, etc. and I end up hearing their opinions about other ministries. While shared sincerely, they initially share negative opinions until I coach them in understanding that they are evaluating their competition through the grid of their own core values without understanding the core values of the other company, which usually are entirely different.
Most of my consulting roles are confidential, so I can’t blog about them, but since everyone knows my roles with DiscipleLand and Group, and publicly they are ‘competitors’ (in the business sense) I’d like to use them as an example of how two organizations can be very different and yet be driven by two completely different Core Values and have as a result two very different outcomes when it comes to product results, and yet both be fantastic companies with wonderful products worthy of churches considering, and why I am so passionate about both of them and how I would describe their Core Value and the impact it makes on what they produce.
DISCLAIMER: This is MY OPINION from what I have observed. I have not gotten any of this from any official statement or documents and either company could very likely disagree with me and I am not speaking on either companies behalf in any official manner – this is my personal blog – I am offering what I think from what I extrapolate from their product and company behavior. I’m not intending to be either complimentary or critical, merely observatory. OK?
DISCIPLELAND: It is my conclusion that DiscipleLand’s Core Value – the thing that drives them is to MAKE DISCIPLES. Everything they do flows out of this single focus. I think this is what keeps Mark Steiner awake at night – wondering how Jesus intended us to make disciples, and he turns to the Word of God for the blueprint. Every product DiscipleLand creates flows out of that passion. He isn’t thinking of what would be a neat product, what’s cool, what will sell, or studying trends. He has a comprehensive strategy for what a fully developed disciple of Jesus looks like and has produced a curriculum that strives to equip teachers to help guide children closer toward that end in knowledge, conduct and character. Even when I offered to write children’s church curriculum it couldn’t be on just anything, it had to be on the 24 disciple skills he had already identified every child needs to develop in order to be fully equipped for the Christian life. When you look at DiscipleLand and what it has, or doesn’t have, even if you are critical of it, it helps to understand that underneath and behind everything is this passionate drive to MAKE DISCIPLES. That will often help explain why they don’t have some of the neat things others publishers have. They might be good things, but DiscipleLand has a laser sharp focus on equipping churches to making disciples and are content to allow others to help them with the rest.
CHECK OUT my Kidology Spotlight Ministry Report on DiscipleLand which highlights the many reasons I am so highly supportive of DiscipleLand’s Core Bible Curriculum and it’s strategic approach to disciple making and why I have used it in every church I have served in. It is truly unique.
GROUP PUBLISHING: It is my conclusion that Group’s Core Value is to SERVE PEOPLE BY MEETING NEEDS believing that when they do, incredible things will happen. Of course, I stole that second half from their current marketing slogan, “Incredible Things Will Happen!” Otherwise, I would have just said, Group exists to serve the church by meeting people’s needs, and I might add, one of the amazing and unique things about Group is that they aren’t just concerned about the needs of Christians! Did you know they have an outreach cafe as part of the headquarters in Loveland, Colorado that draws non-Christians onto their campus on Friday nights for non-threatening spiritual conversations? (See www.lifetreecafe.com) I thought only churches were supposed to do that? Did you know they send 25,000 teenagers around the country and over seas every year to serve in needy areas? Did you know the site of Group’s headquarters was the site of the first Group Youth Work Camp in 1977 when Group founder Thom Schultz saw the need to serve and invited youth groups across America to come to Loveland and help when there was a flood there? His passion is to serve wherever the need is, Christians and non-Christians alike. This is a publisher we are talking about! Doing evangelism out of a publisher headquarters? Sending short term missions from a publisher? It almost doesn’t make sense. But it does, when you understand their Core Value. THEN we can get to the magazines, and the curriculum, and the Vacation Bible School, and over 1,000 published books since the late 1970’s – all to help people – and why they are always hosting focus groups and doing survey’s and being so responsive to their customers? Because they exist to SERVE. And why they just hosted reGroup. An event they charged a $75 deposit for, and then gave us $100 to spend in the store, plus other gifts, and books, and provided training, and networking and a personality assessment test and (most valuable) the investment of their time and energy for three days.
and forgive me for adding one more organization you might have heard of:
KIDOLOGY: Can I share with you what makes Kidology tick? Just in case you never caught it, or read it at the top of our website, our Core Value is EQUIPPING AND ENCOURAGING those who minister to children. That is what gets us out of bed in the morning, and if you want to put wind in our sail or make our day, send us an e-mail telling us how we equipped you or encouraged you. It is what drives us and what is behind everything we do. Every product I create – every blog post I write – every tweet I tweet – it is what we exist to do, and if I ever quit, it will be because I think I’m no longer equipping or encouraging anyone any more.
1) What is your Core Value? What drives you? What is your passion? What gets you out of bed? What is the thing that influences everything you do? Can others tell? And don’t try to be everything to everyone – pick your passion and focus on that, and let others do the other stuff. I chose my life mission at age 19 and this is what I do. I don’t bother with all the other good stuff, I just focus on trying to be great at equipping and encouraging childrens workers. I’ve got one life to devote to that. I hope I can do it well!
2) Look for the Core Value of Others. See if you can identify the core value of others and then appreciate it. Often when you are critical of someone or an organization you are missing their core value. You are being critical because you are assuming they have the same core value as you, or imposing a core value on them they don’t have. This doesn’t mean that an organization won’t have the value that you have in mind, but it may not be their CORE value – they are focused on something else at their center and therefore coming from a different emphasis. When you learn to appreciate the Core Values of other individuals and organizations who come to realize the balance and variety they bring to the Kingdom and the Family of God – if we all did life and ministry the same, what a boring world this would be! Celebrate our different emphases and get on with it!
PLEASE TELL ME IN COMMENTS: What is your Core Value – what are YOU most passionate about in life and/or ministry?