Serving | Simply Insider
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

You just don’t have enough time for everything.

It doesn’t matter how well you manage your schedule. Someone is going to demand more of you than you’re able to give.Wasting-Time

One of the best books I’ve read is Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. Its summary is simply that you’re going to cheat people out of your time, and you have to choose who that will be on a daily basis. The challenge is to make sure no one feels “cheated.”

I first thought that meant I needed to develop a personal value statement as my personal filter for how I spent my time. I later realized that the ministry I served in needed its own values statements for the same reason.

Note how that’s a plural concept. A good one-line mission statement will get you rolling in what you try to do, but several value statements help you foster the culture you’re going to do them in.

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Here are our church’s 12 “Family Values” that help us figure out what’s worth spending time on.

    • We put God first in all things. God isn’t just the cherry at the top of our lives—he’s the spoon through whom we approach every part of the “sundae.” Instead of just turning to him about some things, we will follow him in everything.


    • We love people and will share Jesus with them. It’s up to us to make the next move that lets others experience God through us. We say nobody’s “no” for them—we give them reasons to say yes. Like Jesus, we receive people where they are and speak truth that guides them out of sin and into life.


    • We embrace the tensions of the Bible. The Bible wasn’t given to make us know-it-alls, but to foster wonder and wisdom that leads to conversation and conversion.


    • We reclaim what’s Normal and reframe what’s common. There is an “original good” in all people and things that we join our Creator in recovering…we won’t settle for the way things are. What’s common isn’t Normal; what’s Normal isn’t common.


    • We create as many on-ramps as possible. Everything we do will help outsiders become insiders so the lost can become found and the young in faith can become mature.


    • We learn how to feed ourselves and others spiritually. We’re not going to stay baby Christians but will take hold of what it means become disciples who make disciples who make disciples.


    • We own and overlap our circles. Every person has a unique life-calling and care-network they’re to discover, take hold of and overlap with others for an epic impact.


    • We form community instead of waiting for it to happen. Proximity doesn’t equal intimacy.  We won’t  wait for community, but will make intentional investments that make it happen.


    • We work stuff out with a stubborn love. When we get upset, we don’t exit. Reconciliation honors Jesus Christ, especially when it’s hard, in our relationships and church.


    • We are intergenerational and age-appropriate. Every person, regardless of age, has something to offer another person, regardless of age.


    • We spend our words and our stuff generously to further God’s Kingdom. We go above and beyond what feels comfortable to see life change above and beyond what feels expected.


  • We are a growing church. Our size is determined by God’s calling to reach more people with him. We cannot become small-minded or comfortably sit back when he’s called us to be open-hearted, carry our cross, and join him locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

I’m well aware how hard all of that would be to memorize. Someone would argue that we should distill those down and have 3 to 5 phrases that sum them up. Perhaps one day we will, but right now we don’t need to. Our leadership team spent a year meeting with every household in our church and we discovered these phrases have become “sticky” church-wide based on messages I’ve shared, things others have said, and initiatives we’ve taken part in together.

cultureIn other words, everyone knows these values even if they can’t fully articulate them.

We’ve created a culture where we know what’s worth “wasting time on.” Where that comes in handy is if I have to spend time on one thing versus another thing, I have a community who understands why. They’ll compensate for me in other areas as needed so I can do what I need to do in what’s most needed.

Do you think this is possible in your ministry or church? What have you learned in this process? Maybe we can teach each other something.

Thank you for loving students!



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  • dave says:

    As soon as I read “original good” I got incredibly distracted. Please please please explain what that is supposed to mean.

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      Sure thing. It’s the Genesis 1-2 concept – everything God made was originally good. Then sin spoiled that, like pouring poison into water. The original good is still there, though… we’re *still* made in God’s image, even though we now display the broken/tainted version of it. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says it this way, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 complements by adding, “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.”

      When we trust in Christ, He deals with our “sin” issue. As we follow Him, He helps us address our “sins” and temptation to circle back to what we’ve known. God is reorienting us every day back to what He originally intended for us, but doing so within a fractured culture. As one of my college profs used to say, “God can draw straight using a crooked line.”

      So our goal in ministry isn’t to make spiritually broken people look more Christian. It’s to help them reenter the Story of God and His original good for their lives. Culture wants everyone to call this world normal… but the true Normal is what God intended – it’s a noun, and not an adjective.

      Hope that helps!

  • Garth says:

    I was wondering if you might be able to unpack:

    We form community instead of waiting for it to happen. Proximity doesn’t equal intimacy. We won’t wait for community, but will make intentional investments that make it happen.

    What intentional investments are you talking about? Can you give me some examples of how you create community? Thanks

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      Good question, Garth. First off, these aren’t “top down” statements – meaning, it’s not up to the church leaders to come up with a program that handles every one of these. These are family values… meaning everyone owns these. So when we say “We form community…” the “we” is all of us vs just the church leadership.

      That said, what the church leadership does encourage and try to model can include:

      Hosting Connection Groups (small groups) at our homes.
      Reaching out to new people or returning people at weekend services vs huddling up in our own circle of friends.
      Helping people who start serving in a ministry to realize they have as much of a voice as someone who’s been serving in it for years.
      Looking up people who haven’t been around in a while and making an intentional connection.
      Propping up the church on Facebook through check-ins, hoping to generate awareness.
      Refining our hospitality process (we’re doing this right now) to ensure less people slip through the cracks.
      Reading a book church-wide together.
      Having as many open-door meetings as possible where someone can pop into some of our most tender discussions.
      Amplifying the value of prayer and evangelism more, so we care for those we have and don’t yet have in our community.
      Being warm people who hang out with anyone.
      Not judging others because they sin differently than you do.

      Again, what I’m initially proposing is a culture value. How that looks does start with our leaders… but it’s already a value we’ve been nurturing for years. We still have issues when people say, “Well, no one called me when I…” and we offer, “Sorry about that. We’re doing our best. Also worth noting… relationships are two-way. Could you have done something to let others know…” etc.

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