Messages: Culture is intentionally shaped as the right messages are consistently and clearly communicated to the staff, church leaders and membership

Does Your Church Have a Common Language?


Policemen, firemen, air traffic controllers, emergency room personnel and the military teach us the importance of a common language to mitigate confusion.

These professions are in “life and death” jobs where their decisions can literally mean the difference between life and death. Any miscommunication can have disastrous results.

Church leaders are in a “life and death” vocation as well.

The decisions they make have eternal consequences. At the very least, miscommunication risks confusion and the leader being misunderstood. At the worst, someone all together misses the Gospel message.

Pre-Agreement Is Essential To A Common Language

In each of the above vocations pre-agreement is the key to a common language. This is where everyone agrees in advance “that when I say this, I mean this.”

Unfortunately there are a variety of definitions and meanings for most of the terms we use in the church.

To minimize confusion and to facilitate understanding churches should consider compiling a glossary of common language terms to make available online and in new member classes and staff orientation.

Application: Church Ministry Plan Definitions and Examples

Below are sample definitions for strategic planning, one of the potentially most confusing areas of terminology in the church.


A statement of the overall purpose of the church.

“Connecting people to Jesus through worship, discipleship and service.”


A picture of the “preferred future.”  A statement that describes how the future will look if the church achieves its mission.

“Connecting people to Jesus Christ by demonstrating Christ’s love through relationships, service and evangelism; by educating and equipping God’s people; and by celebrating and experiencing God’s presence.”


The constant, passionate, biblical core beliefs that drive the ministry of the church.

“We value prayer as an interactive conversation with God therefore we will undergird every aspect of life and ministry with prayer.”


Broad, long term aims that define the accomplishment of the church’s mission and the outcomes we hope to achieve.

“Encourage every member to discover and accept their calling to grow the Kingdom of God.”


Specific, quantifiable, realistic targets that measure the accomplishment of an objective over a specific period of time.

“Engage in 10 Strategic Global Outreach Partnerships that result in at least 800 decisions for Christ and involve 480 members.”

Ministry Plumb Lines

Agreements that set the foundation as guiding principles for how we will prioritize and make decisions as a church and as a staff.

“God has uniquely gifted and called each believer.  Therefore we will give top priority to….”


Unique expressions of how our church lives out its mission, vision and values.

“CORPORATE-CREATIVE BALANCE:  Our church is a blend of people with corporate as well as creative gifts and experiences. Therefore this blend allows for an innovative church and ministry culture that is well planned, resourced and structured”.


The key initiatives, activities and methodologies that will be used to achieve the objective and associated goals.

“Sunday Worship Services; Worship Resources; Web-Streaming…..”


The key measurements that will be used to determine if we are successful in achieving the objective and associated goals.

“Worship attendance; worship venues; worship leaders; worship resources….”

Action: Why not begin to compile a glossary of common language terms for your church by asking each ministry to submit definitions for the terms they refer to most frequently.

Posted on July 15, 2014

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5