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

Do You Have Plumb Lines for Your Church’s Decisions?


A plumb line is a simple but accurate tool used for determining whether or not something is perfectly vertical or upright.

Used since ancient times, a plumb line consists of a line and weight of some sort, usually a stone or piece of lead.

 References to the use of a plumb line in the Holy Scriptures are usually that of the Lord’s plumb line, how righteously people stand according to His Word.

 In Amos 7:8 (HCSB) The Lord asked Amos, “What do you see, Amos?” I replied, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “I am setting a plumb line among My people Israel.”

Plumb Lines for Decisions

The plumb line can be a useful metaphor in church decision making. With a myriad of opportunities for ministry how do you determine what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to?

Mission and Ministry Plumb Lines can function much like a carpenter’s or mason’s plumb line.  They make sure your ministries, programs and decisions line up with your mission, vision, values and priorities.

Ministry Plumb Lines identify and objectify misalignment by reflecting the truths and values you embrace and the behaviors you expect.

In a sense they are your organizational “flags on the hill” or “maxims” – a list of principles that describe clearly and concisely what you believe, value and expect staff and leadership to think through when considering ministry and resource allocation decisions.

They communicate how you want opportunities processed and let everyone know the kind of things you will do and won’t do.

Mission and Ministry Plumb Lines then can be an effective tool for communicating “the way we operate around here.”

Application: Guiding Precepts – Turning Values Into Behaviors

But to move from a piece of paper or a plaque on the wall to a vital part of the church culture, you must transform these statements about what you believe and value into Guiding Precepts.

Guiding Precepts both define what you believe and value and provide an example of the types of actions the church believes supports that value.

We recommend the following format for stating your church’s  Guiding Precepts:

  • “We believe….(Value).”
  • “Therefore, we will…..(Behaviors).”

Use the examples below to guide you in establishing your own Guiding Precepts.

Missions – We Believe:

  1. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.

Therefore, because everyone needs Jesus we will give top priority to ministries and initiatives that connect people to Jesus Christ (through evangelism, acts of compassion/mercy, etc.) rather than those that focus solely on meeting physical needs.

  1. The church is God’s plan “A” for building his Kingdom.

Therefore, we will give top priority to starting new congregations/churches and equipping and building up existing churches.

  1. Partnerships are catalysts for Kingdom growth. 

Therefore, we will prioritize establishment of Kingdom partnerships with groups and organizations of like mind and mission.

  1. People most frequently discover our church through others and through our web site and social media. 

Therefore, we will give priority to (1.) equipping our members to share about their faith and their church, and (2.) developing and maintaining a dynamic web and social media presence.

Worship – We Believe:

1.    Worship is essential to loving God and is the front door to the church. 

Therefore, we will give top priority to resourcing God honoring, believer targeted and seeker sensitive worship services and venues.

2.    Prayer is the key to spiritual awakening and Kingdom growth.

Therefore, we will prioritize prayer that focuses on salvation for the lost and spiritual renewal of the saved.

Discipleship – We Believe:

1.    The goal of discipleship is a personal and intentional spiritual growth plan leading to a Christ-centered life. 

Therefore, we will give top priority to resourcing and facilitating involvement in our church wide discipleship strategy.

 2.    The home is the center for faith training. 

Therefore, we will give top priority to resourcing home and church partnership strategies.  

Service – We Believe:

  1. God calls every believer for Kingdom service. 

Therefore, we will give top priority to (1.) helping believers discover how God has uniquely gifted, experienced and impassioned them for a Kingdom calling, and (2.) facilitating their obedience to that calling.

Stewardship – We Believe:

 1.    God owns it all.

Therefore, we will teach that the tithe is only the beginning point in Christian stewardship.

 2.    The church is God’s biblical plan for making disciples. 

Therefore, we will encourage members to give their time, talent and treasure to the church.

Training – We Believe:

1.    Ministry training and replication is essential to developing a pipeline of leaders, and happens best in a church based environment.  

Therefore, we will give top priority to resourcing church based on-the-job training apprenticeship, internship and residency initiatives.

Resources – We Believe:

  1. Our campus is designed to be a base for equipping and sending people to be on mission for God, and a tool for reaching our world for Christ. 

Therefore, we will give priority to campus uses that equip and deploy believers and those that have an intentional strategy for connecting people to Jesus Christ.

  1. Communicating our mission, vision, objectives, and priorities in clear and effective ways is essential to  gaining support for doing the work of the church.

Therefore we will follow a communication strategy that recognizes the priorities of our goals and reduces or eliminates isolated or silo-oriented messages.

Action: Use the Comments section below to tell me some of your church’s Plumb Lines and Guiding Precepts.   



Posted on August 5, 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