What is your church all about, at the core? Do your buildings and facilities reflect what is absolutely most important? TAG’s Transforming Church team talks about a church’s “code” as being the essence of what a church is all about. Your church’s code is what makes your church unique from any other church – even from churches who share your same doctrine. And your buildings and facilities must align with your code.
Imagine a barometer. Code, when applied in a healthy way, enables us to measure the climate within our church as well as how external forces are shaping us.
Think of a rudder. The code keeps us on the right path and enables us to safely reach our destination, but it is not the same thing as our destination. It provides the stability to navigate turbulent waters as we move toward our destination.
Consider a magnet. The code attracts people to the church who fit that code and who are eager to buy into and exemplify the code.
Envision a picture frame. The code frames everything that we do, providing boundaries, color, and shape – but its rarely the thing that we pay attention. A few months after Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the panhandle of Florida, I was driving on a recently opened road on Pensacola Beach. Despite nearly around-the-clock work to restore the beach community, it still looked like a war zone – once luxurious homes littered like into giant toothpicks, and the beaches themselves rearranged and nearly destroyed.
As I drove along, I began to notice the focus of the restoration work: a series of giant machines – each at least the length of a freight car. Into each of these machines, sand was continually being pumped and filtered. The debris – every imaginable form of glass, wood, steel, and plastic was then emptied into giant piles was the sand was returned. For months, the machines worked round the clock to filter miles and miles of beach! Years after Ivan, the work continues. That is the work of code provides – a filter for what the church is and what it becomes, what the church does and doesn’t do, what the church permits and doesn’t permit. A healthy code screens and sifts, keeping out ideas and decisions that do not fit the code. Those who resonate with the code tend to stay in the organization; those who don’t, leave–or never apply in the first place.
Once your church has truly defined its code, you will want to filter everything through the code. Your values should protect the code. Your mission statement should reinforce your code. Your vision should express your code in the coming years. Your code should guide decision-making. It should empower who leads, who is hired, and who is fired. Just as sand is the essential for beach living – it defines it – so code should determine everything your church does. All that is not sand should be jettisoned as debris.
Kevin Ford is the Chief Visionary Officer, and a principal at TAG Consulting. He’s known for developing leaders who choose to successfully transform their organization to meet the challenges that they face.