Kids pick up the craziest things in kindergarten. They truly are like sponges. The other day I was doing some work around the house when I heard my 6-year-old son say something inappropriate that he had overheard while at school. He did not necessarily know it was wrong when he said it, so we had to have a conversation about why it was not appropriate to say such things in our family. I explained to him that other families may have different rules, but in our family that's not something we say. I feel like a large part of my role as a parent to my three boys is helping them understand what we are about as a family, the things that make us distinct from other families and why that matters.
We all have things that make our families unique or distinct from others. Sometimes you create unwritten rules, like, don’t bug Mom or Dad when they are grumpy. Others rules are more intentionally spelled out, like, no toys at the dinner table.
Churches are not entirely different than families in that they too have things that make them unique and distinct. Sometimes those things are unwritten and assumed, like, no shorts or hats in the sanctuary. Other times they are intentional and well-expressed through doctrinal statements and other documents.
Here at The Well, it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “that feels like The Well” or “that does not feel like The Well.” After hearing that enough, we decided to engage in a little exercise as a leadership team. We wanted to see if we could come up with and write down a list of statements, or distinctives, that took those unwritten things and put them in writing, things that make us unique as a church. We came up with a list of 11 distinctives that make us, us:
- We have a high “try” culture.
- We change when needed.
- We train and equip volunteers.
- We work hard together with good attitudes.
- We have freedom to fail.
- We are humble, authentic and simple.
- We reach for the next generation.
- We know health is the secret sauce of an effective team.
- We do ministry through a lens of the Scriptures.
- We value creativity and thoughtful design.
- We value collaboration, feedback and advice.
We use this list to guide and shape how we operate as a church. We use these to give feedback to each other as a team and to help us make decisions, as we often have to choose between two very good things that we could be doing. If something doesn’t fit our distinctives, we won’t do it. We even use these as a filter when we are looking to hire someone. If we think they won’t be able to join us in living these out, or will have a hard time buying into them with us, then we know it's not going to be a good fit.
Our hope is these distinctives are not only for our staff but also for our church as a whole. I challenge you to consider how they might play out on your team. The next time you are faced with a decision or a direction for your team, think through The Well Distinctives and ask yourself, “Does this feel like us?"