Transforming Missional Values into Missional Practices

Values reflect a person’s unique beliefs, core convictions, and guiding principles. Your values will guide ongoing attitudes and behaviors. Often times, values are unwritten assumptions that guide actions. In any situation, your values are confirmed by actions, not just by words.

In regard to missional values, they are not simply beliefs about Jesus, the Church, or the importance of evangelism. They are convictions that determine if and how believers will function as missionaries everywhere they go. They also influence goals and the direction of missional activity. Without missional values, there will be no missional behaviors
Values are more about your actions than your words. Core values should be able to be expressed in terms of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Values help us determine what to do and what not to do. They’re deep-seated, pervasive standards that influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day. (1)

Another way of viewing values is that values are “rules of the road” for people on a journey. Peter Senge observes,

“Core values are necessary to help people with day-to-day decision making. Vision is long term. People need guiding stars to navigate and make decisions day to day. But core values are only helpful if they can be translated into concrete behaviors. For example, one of our core values is openness, which we worked long and hard to understand–finally recognizing that it requires the skills of reflection and inquiry within an overall context of trusting and supporting one another.” (2)

Conflict in churches often arises from differing expectations or values. The mission of Jesus is often hindered because missional values are not embraced in a local church. If these values are absent or not being practiced, even the highest levels of commitment to Christ and devotion to one another will not accomplish the mission.

Here are some important questions I formed to discern missional values

  1. If we were serious about embodying the mission and message of Jesus, what would we be doing?
  2. What are the essential functions of a missionary?
  3. What did Jesus do to fulfill His mission?
  4. What did the early Church do to fulfill the mission?
  5. What is keeping believers from incarnating the gospel?
  6. If the Church is to be what God designed it to be, what should we be doing?

Missional values are the foundation of missionary activity. In aligning one’s focus with the mission of Jesus, all values must flow out of scripture.

Although they are not our theology they must be firmly rooted in scripture and thoroughly understood by the leaders and emerging church body. Firmly rooted values protect the church from every strong opinion or dominant personality that tries to shape the church. Strong values keep the church from being taken off course by every fad or new program that comes along. (3)

It is important to recognize that there is a difference between preferred values and practiced values. Preferred values are important beliefs, but they are not always exhibited in behaviors. Practiced values are an obvious part of your behaviors. They become habits in your life. Missional values must correspond to missional behaviors. My friend and colleague, Cam Roxburgh, is lead pastor and planter of Southside Community Church in Surrey, B.C., and national director of Church Planting Canada. He identifies these five values of the Missional Church: 1) Passionate Spirituality, 2) Intentional Community, 3) Incarnational Living, 4) Transformational Discipleship, and 5) Radical Stewardship. (4)

To actually embody the mission and message of Jesus, these values need to be practiced faithfully. They also need to be communicated and affirmed regularly. The following chart demonstrates how these five missional values flow out of the five missional distinctives.

The question that needs to be asked is: How can you transform these values into practices? What behaviors will demonstrate these values? What habits can be consistently cultivated in your life that will express these distinctives/values?

Missional Distinctives – Missional Values – Missional Behaviors

SENT –
Passionate Spirituality –


CROSS –
Transformational Discipleship –


COMMUNITY –
Intentional Community


CULTURE –
Incarnational Living


KING/KINGDOM –
Radical Stewardship

Without behavioral indicators that confirm these values, God’s mission in the world will be hindered.

Consider what behaviors would validate the values listed above and add your comments.


  1. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1987,212.
  2. Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline, New York: Doubleday, 1990, 225.
  3. Steve Ogne, “Get Ready, Get Set, Define Your Values: What Are My Ministry Values? in Getting Ready! (Fort Wayne: Church Multiplication Training Center, 2003), 25.
  4. Alison Johnson, “Missional Church Movement: Review and Recommendations,” (Lake Stevens, WA, November 29, 2006), paper presented at annual winter retreat of Outreach Canada)

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
2 replies
  1. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    For the SENT Distinctive I try to have one conversation a day with a un churched person where I let my passion show. If I don’t have that deliberate conversation a little part of me feels the day was a failure. I challenge my friends to do the same so they don’t lose sight of the fact they are sent.

    For the CULTURE Distinctive we have tried to figure out what Sonoma County loves. One thing is alternative medicine, alternative religion, alternative anything…. so we practice Qi Gong / Tai Chi and acupuncture. Other Christians do this also in our area but they have made their own sub culture and left the community.

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