What should our values inspire us to?

St. James, Bramley near Basingstoke, Hampshire

So, at St. Peter’s we’ve got some values that we want to start teaching, praying and living… probably a good cue for a summer of writing Bible studies!

As part of the Values Working Group, it’s been humbling and inspiring helping to get us even this far on behalf of the whole church community. But the hard work has hardly started; now we need to work out as a church what it means to live these values out.

One the key things that Laurence Gamlen of CPAS kept emphasising to our Values Working Group, was that our values will inform and set our behaviour – if they don’t then they are not values that we are living by. The behaviours will be those which each member of St. Peter’s should be living out in their daily lives, and these will also become the behaviours of the church fellowship; if our values are truly inspired by Christ, then we need to show we’re living them out, like Christ.

Some of those behaviours are intentional – we will need to make concious decisions about what we decide to do based on these things things that we value about God. That will be difficult. It will require us to decide on explicit ways of behaving, and at our PCC Away Day we started to think about what might be the most important of these explicit behaviours to work on first. Eventually these should inform all our natural behaviours; it will rub off on those decisions and actions that are second nature.

These were the intentional behaviours that the PCC Away Day (in the lovely church rooms at St. James, Bramley) thought ‘fell out’ from each value, and should be our initial priorities when thinking about their impact on our lives:

The lovely church rooms in the churchyard (maintained for wildlife) at St. James, Bramley

If, at St. Peter’s we seek God by meeting with the people of Yateley to explore the relevance of new life with Jesus, this should lead to us prioritising the following:

  • we will go to meet people where they are (e.g. like Jesus did with the tax collector)
  • we will make ourselves vulnerable, and take risks (e.g. Jesus with the woman at the well)
  • we will build relationships with those we meet (Jesus did this all the while – especially with the disciples!)

If, at St. Peter’s we are seeking God by living as a community held together by the grace and love of the Father, this should lead to us

  • being supportive of each other, and clear and accountable to each other, things that need to be exhibited by all, but specifically with the leadership of St. Peter’s setting the example – with the Biblical example of how Jesus sent out the disciples
  • be spending time together using as we have already started to do, Acts 2:42-47 and the example of Jesus spending time with disciples in sharing food, teaching, journeying…)
  • show care and respect for each other (using example of Jesus care for Peter after Peter’s denial, Jesus’ washing of feet, and his eating with ‘sinners’ – to name a few examples)

If, at St. Peter’s we are seeking God by surrendering to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, then the intentional behaviours in our teaching and learning, that transform our (individual and corporate) lifestyle of prayer, worship and use of scripture should cause us to live as servants, to God, to our community and to each other. This will require us to

  • create space to be with God,
  • be passionate about our faith in Jesus,
  • and expectantly invite encounter with God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It has been noticeable that the values that have been most hard-won have been the bits of our relationships where we know as a church we are hurting most (how we behave towards each other). The initial behaviours which are proving the most difficult to identify as those to prioritise, are those that come from our relationship to God; could that possibly be the work of the devil seeking to stop us in our tracks before we get started?

Bishop Alan wrote today that “Christians [should] reject those things that do not fit with the name we claim and choose those that do” and I guess, that’s just what we need to do with the way we behave, and in the way in which must affirm, train and correct each other as we go. There will be many who will need to help us along our way, our new Area Bishop, and our new vicar when they arrive, to name but two. You are welcome to constructively ‘comment’ (using the comment facility on each blog entry) and inspire us as we work out what Jesus would have us do, and pray for us that God will continue to inspire and strengthen us on our journey.

I hope too that Laurence will keep an eye on us, especially in the vacancy months to come, to help keep us on the fertile ground lest the weeds grow (Mark 4)!

Update: you may find this recent sermon has some relevance to how we live our Christ-like values – our values work was certainly heavily on my mind as I prepared and delivered the sermon, even though we officially couldn’t go public at the time.



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