March 7, 2022

Establishing Core Values

My first challenge as a new rector was a common one: How do I make this team into my team?

I would have plenty of opportunities to recruit new staff in subsequent years, but I had to begin my ministry with a team that had been assembled by someone else. My first step was to establish core values: teamwork, dedication, and excellence.

I wish I could say that my new colleagues and I discerned these principles together, but we didn’t. This was my way of letting the existing staff know the new rector’s style, of establishing baseline expectations that would apply equally to all of us, and of reshaping an existing system to achieve new outcomes.

By God’s grace, it worked. The existing parish staff and I rallied around these three core values in our early days together and they became useful as we interviewed prospective new additions to our team. Almost nine years into my current ministry, more than a quarter of “my” team has been at the parish longer than I have.

Here’s how we defined our core values for staff and clergy, both then and now:


At all times and in all ways, we will function as a team. Our ministries are shared and responsibility for their success or failure is also shared. To this end, we will support one another in public and encourage one another in private. We will ask for help when we need it and be quick to help others whenever we can. We will always speak the truth to one another in love, which means always sharing feedback in constructive ways and in appropriate circumstances. Conflicts are first addressed by direct conversation between the persons involved. Conflicts that cannot be resolved directly are discussed with the rector, not with other members of staff or the congregation.


The work of ministry is both a sacred obligation and a tremendous privilege. Therefore, we will arrive on time for our commitments and be fully present to the work that God has given us to do. We will always carry ourselves with good humor and gracious hospitality. As individuals and as a team, we will keep ourselves strong and healthy by practicing good self-care and by participating fully in group activities with our colleagues.


Maintaining the status quo will never be our goal. As a team, we commit ourselves to getting better at everything we do, in every area of our shared ministry. Individually, we will look for ways to sharpen our skills and strengthen our abilities. As a group, we will think creatively, dream boldly, and share our ideas freely. We will actively seek opportunities for collaboration. In striving for excellence, we know that we will make mistakes and that some of our ideas will not yield success. We will learn from these experiences, we will support one another in the midst of them, and we will not let them deter us from trying new things in the future.