Skip to content
Home » Ethos and Values

Ethos and Values

Summary: This article considers the sources that shape our shared experience as Navigators and the relational journeys that contribute to our Values. This article has many lists! Such an approach seems necessary to trace the evolution of our Values and thus to follow the various ways in which a deep Value such as our dependence upon the Scriptures has been expressed. Each generation and culture “tunes” our Values to reflect their own sensitivities and contexts, yet the continuity is evident. The distinction between current operational Values and those to which we aspire is discussed.


The Meanings of “Ethos” and “Values”
Navigator Basic Beliefs
Navigator Mission Statement and Values, 1970s to 1990s
The Scriptural Roots of Our Ministry and Navigator Values
US Navigators and Values
Values and The Core, 1990s and 2000s

The Meanings of “Ethos” and “Values”

In the New Testament, the Greek ethos can be translated as manner, custom, or tradition. However, as it was gradually naturalized into English, the meaning shifted. One dictionary definition is “the prevailing tone or sentiment of a community.” In Acts 4, the Jews took note that Peter and John had been with Jesus. There was a certain flavor about them, something about their courage and commitment. They were Jesus people.

Ethos is a flexible term. It covers, for example, such traits as our collective personality, our spirit, tone, heartbeat, atmosphere. It speaks to who we are, rather than to what we do. In some ways, it corresponds to virtues.

Because Navigators have traditionally “grown their own” rather than recruited leaders from congregations and other agencies, they have had a particularly strong ethos. It could be described as our tribal smell!

It comes from such sources as our experiences in ministry, but it goes deeper. It is not derived from shared information or membership or theology. Instead, it tries to capture what is basically impossible to capture—that elusive but real recognition that we feel when we sense that we are in the presence of other Navigators.

People attribute value to many things. This is one result of our creation in God’s image. He is revealed in the Scriptures as frequently assigning value, starting with “it is good” in Genesis 1 onward. Scripture is full of value judgements, both positive and negative.

In recent years, it has been fashionable to speak of “kingdom values.” What does this mean? To what extent does the concept arise naturally from the biblical material, as opposed to being posited by those who wish to warn against “church” values or “organizational” values or even “secular” values? Of course, one might merely list all that God wants us to be: faithful, diligent, loving, honest, generous, sacrificial etc. But, what informs these attitudes and behaviors? Why are they advocated? Behind them lie some core values and perspectives.

Values often shift according to their cultural contexts. The Dutch researcher, Geert Hofstede, surveyed values in the cultures of more than fifty countries, demonstrating that we develop “mental programs” largely set in early childhood and then reinforced by cultural contexts. He defined a value as “a broad tendency to prefer certain states of affairs to others,” usually invisible until expressed in choices, words, deeds. Values, he maintained, are beliefs translated into behavioral choices; mere intellectual assent is not enough.1

So, what do we mean by biblical values? I suggest that values2 are the fundamental motivating forces that should drive the attitudes and behaviors of believers and that find their roots in the character and purposes of God.

One could well argue that virtues (what I am) run deeper than values (what I cherish); but until recently, the former have not often been drawn out in our discourse. Here, we may learn from the Catholic Church whose catechism explores virtues at length but does not even mention values. It defines human virtues as:

Firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.3

Virtues,4 of course, are embedded in persons rather than programs or organizations. However, we may observe that The Core, especially our Vision, identifies the characteristics of our movement expressed through the virtues and energies of those who comprise it.

As may be seen in what follows, we have tended from time to time to mix what we do value with what we ought to value. This is unfortunate, not least because one is unable to separate what those who contributed to our past values thought about this distinction. Were they even conscious of it?

Navigator Basic Beliefs

When the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry (FOM) was first published at the end of 1978,5 it presented our basic beliefs as “certain things we believe are fundamental to the Navigator ministry . . . that give it flavor and stability.” After illustrating the Big Dipper illustration that had come to Daws one night during 1948 in Paris, Sanny wrote that he (Sanny) began to preach three basic beliefs:

1. The authority of the Bible
2. The worth of every individual
3. Our mission is to serve

Sanny also wrote that he later expanded these to five big ideals:

1. Christ’s Great Commission
2. Multiplying the laborers
3. The importance of every individual
4. Our role is to serve
5. Our standard is excellence

He then laid out in the FOM six basic beliefs:

1. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and therefore Lord
2. The Bible is the Word of God and therefore our final authority
3. The sovereign grace of God
4. The importance of every individual
5. Our task is to serve others
6. The necessity of example6

In 1981, Oswald Sanders, who had led the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, sat through our International Council and attended a conference of our US Pacific Region. We prevailed on him to share his observations as a perceptive friend. He spoke of strengths and weaknesses,7 but our underlying values are visible:


Prominence and authority of the Word of God
Emphasis on personal Bible study and prayer
Small groups
Multiplication principle
Follow-up and establishing young Christians
The disciplined life
Quality rather than quantity
High standards of performance
World vision
Maintenance of our distinctives


Navigator jargon
Not adequately Church-centered
Upper-middle class
American dominance
Too structured and stereotyped
– Increasingly fine-tuning the dazzling machinery
– Must stay an organism, not become an organization
Progressive training of leaders
Not enough emphasis on developing preachers
Poorly informed about other Christian movements
Male orientation; women staff not given freedom and scope

Sanders was gracious and careful to label the weaknesses as “actual or potential.” However, this was a list in which we could readily recognize ourselves.

During much of our history, we have found it useful to think of people having worldviews, values, attitudes, and behaviors. If a worldview is a consistent way of making sense of reality, then a value is what becomes important to sustain and defend that worldview. We have taught that lasting change comes from the formation of a worldview, although it is much easier to change behaviors. Navigators concentrate on worldviews because we are committed to impact through the generations.8

Navigator Mission Statement and Values, 1970s to 1990s

Within the US, Terry Taylor took over from Jack Mayhall as US director in April 1984. Terry formed a new team around himself with new objectives. This US Leadership Team (USLT) agreed in November 1987 to introduce what was called the “bridge strategy,” which restated our US mission as: “By faith in God and in obedience to Jesus Christ, the mission of the US Navigators is to recruit, equip, send, and serve an army of multiplying laborers reaching the lost and making disciples in their spheres of influence.”

At the same time, the following guiding values were agreed:

1. To be Navigators who are ministry leaders with the discipline and courage to wait on God, to walk with God, to believe God for the sake of the Gospel of God.
2. To preserve the mobile and missionary functions of our organization.
3. To have all aspects of our work biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and continuously effective in the mainstreams of society.

During 1986, Stacy Rinehart analyzed the USLT minutes9 for the previous decade in order to extract from them what he summarized as “Values, Assumptions, Philosophies.” He divided his analysis into three eras:

  • Strong Management (1977 to 1979)
    Standardized, centralized, productivity, and conformity
  • Management to Leadership: October 1979 to May 1984
    Transition precipitated by crisis
Leadership by Influencing: May 1984 to 1990

Given that Stacy carried out this study in 1986, one may see that he was eager to predict the arc of our required leadership as much as to analyze the past. This is evident, because he also postulated a fourth era, namely “movement,” which would run from 1990 onward and be characterized by delegation, decentralization, diversification.

Stacy emphasized the determinative role of values in our work and “our need as the USLT to identify and agree upon the values on which we plan to build The Navigators in the future.” He suggested that “we are currently in a state of flux over our values system which is necessary but which, when prolonged, negatively affects the organization.”

Stacy also gave the USLT his observations and what he called “structural considerations” for the movement era. His observations are worth quoting:

  1. The US is six-to-ten years behind overseas in contextualization.
  2. The US is oriented to individuals rather than teams. The latter takes advantage of gifts.
  3. There are existing leaders in the US system who still reflect the strong management era values, and hence are unwilling or unable to embrace the future movement era.
  4. The primary issue facing the US is not reaching the secularized but becoming a contextualized movement.
  5. Emphasis on “reaching the secularized” is the wrong emphasis: the real issue is contextualization.
  6. All initiatives have to be cleared by the USLT. Unless we change this value (of leaders needing to approve whatever is new) throughout the US work, we will thwart our growth and contextualization.

This is interesting, even though employed in pursuit of continuing change in our ethos. However, I would argue that the use of the minutes of meetings to diagnose our trajectory has only limited value, because it is inherent in such minutes that they are compressed and dry summaries of what often have been emotional and certainly value-laden discussions.

In fairness to Stacy, a cursory look through the USLT minutes of what he called “Era 1” does confirm a focus on managerial decisions, attributable in part to US Director Mayhall’s skill in this context.

Now, this was only a segment of Stacy’s studies. He also analyzed four other major collections of minutes for the years 1977 to 1986, namely the ILT/IET, IMLT,10 INC,11 and International Conferences. He was looking primarily for “patterns, crises, turning points.”12

Stacy, with his strong “movement” orientation, over-interpreted the evidence that he saw in these minutes. Briefly, for example, he discerns an Management by Objectives philosophy during 1981 to 1983 which I recall as fading before 1980, at which point our imperatives were birthed and contained no numerical objectives. He sees us assuming that, “all countries are alike and that changing a structure or method will correct a problem.” He instances that training in the 2:7 Series must be acquired in the US as “revealing a clear assumption of the cross-cultural transfer of standardized methods,” whereas the reason for specific controls on the 2:7 lay in the 1970s in which it was, as it were, fighting for legitimacy in the face of many field doubts.

Ron Oertli later13 held the 2:7 Series with an open hand when other countries chose to use it. As Ron said, “We had no control and we would do anything we could to help them contextualize it.” Having set up a pattern and done the ground work on how to deal with churches, he was pleased to pass on the US experience to others.

Nevertheless, it is true that our leaders were a moving target. At the extremes, some harked back to what Daws would have done (though he was always innovating) while others were well into contextualizing.

Similar reservations about Stacy’s critique could be made when he analyzed the work of the divisional directors from 1977 to 1979 and their replacement as a leadership structure in 1981 by a combination of the smaller International Executive Team (IET) and the larger International Council. He sees us as driven by “production” whereas I would argue that we were motivated by fruitfulness, given that we were a sodality and had an agreed Aim. The appointment of Jerry White in July 1983 wasn’t “due to overwork,” but came from Sanny’s desire to “leave the Navs in good hands” when he stepped down. After all, he had already tried to resign as CEO in April 1978. Jerry eventually became general director in June 1986.

Regarding his critique of our approval culture, one should make a distinction between submitting country plans for approval (until the mid-1970s) and, in subsequent years, describing progress after the event through country summaries.

Although one should not fault Stacy for his American perspectives, he does accord the replacement of Mayhall by Taylor as US director in April 1984 as more significant internationally than I would. His overall summary for 1984 includes the comment: “Commitment to serve each country and not enforce standardization . . . turn away from centralization and control . . . rise of many national leaders produces loss of control for Americans, forced delegation, and forced diversity.”

Nevertheless, Stacy’s work was instructive, in revealing how a sympathetic “outsider” who had not been a participant in our several committees perceived the progress of our movement.

Lorne Sanny’s Basics of The Navigators, 1985

In 1985, Sanny prepared a set of “basics” in the Navigators, to each of which he appended our then issues as he saw them.14 While not exactly values, these basics certainly displayed our ethos. Thus:

  1. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (He is Lord): Make Him the focus of our unity and the measure of our maturity.15
  2. All scripture is given by inspiration of God: The authority,16 sufficiency, and indispensability of the Bible.
  3. The worth and dignity of every individual human being: Resist all that degrades, promote all that enhances.
  4. Sin is the basic cause for misery now and forever: Teaching on sin, its nature and consequences.
  5. The Gospel of the grace of God as the only remedy: Evangelism as the leading edge of our ministry.
  6. The responsibility of all Christians to be laborers: Engaged in the process of evangelizing and/or establishing.
  7. Our commitment to every nation of the world.

Each of these basics was supported by one or more issues. For example, the issue for the third basic was the place of women in The Navigators and the issue for the fifth basic was contextualization. Eight issues were appended to the seventh basic including how best to relate to local congregations and the world at the same time.

The tone of these basics is theologically firm, in traditional language. For example, sin is the cause of misery and the Gospel of grace is the only remedy.

International Council Values, 1987

Our 1987 International Council put forward four fundamental Navigator values, internationally:

    • A heart for the lost
    • The purity of the Gospel
    • Spiritual reproduction17

Later the same year, Jerry White called together a task force18 to explore the implications of more fully becoming an enabling global society. One of their objectives was to focus the dynamics of our society such as commitments, purposes, values.

The GSTF participants were supplied with responses from as many as eleven meetings convened in our ethno-religious blocs around the world, from which were distilled19 values for Navigators:

  • Authority of the Word
  • Humility
  • Mutual submission
  • Godliness
  • Spiritual relationships
  • Worth of the individual
  • Appreciation for diversity

Armed with these contributions, Jerry had prepared an issue statement as regards values. Some of the thoughts that he presented to the GSTF follow:

Values are deeply personal. When they are violated, we feel it very personally. For those of us in The Navigators, our values are most likely a complex integration of biblical values developed in the context of our vision and our cultural heritage. Thus, the transmission of our values in our early ministry history bore strong overtones of American culture. As God gave people spiritual maturity in other countries, tensions began to surface as the cultural portion of the values came in conflict.

We now ask, “What values do we share that bind our hearts beyond the bonds that would unite all Christians? Are there particular values that we aim to infuse wherever God allows us to plant ministries? Or should each country simply concern itself with those values of deep significance to them in their own culture?

It was not until January 1988, soon after the task force had finished its work, that our International Council formally committed The Navigators to becoming an enabling global society.20 During the process of describing the ingredients of such a society, we agreed on a model that had seven primary characteristics. These were:

  • Responsive to countries and their diversity
  • Flexible in relation to people and circumstances
  • Simple, yet structurally pluriform
  • Influence-oriented rather than control-oriented
  • Composed of gifted individuals who are servants
  • Based on communication, rather than representation
  • In line with our calling to the nations

While these may not be values in the classic sense, they are certainly ingredients in the ethos into which we desired to grow.

Meanwhile, the USLT held a substantial discussion of their values, using as a working definition: “Principles, standards, or qualities which we hold uniquely for the accomplishment of our task.” After surfacing some twenty-two values and referring to our basic beliefs in FOM 2, the team decided to express their basic values in terms of seven commitments:

  • To loving and exhorting Christ
  • To living and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit
  • To discipling among the lost
  • To mutual trust and respect for individuals
  • To relationships characterized by love
  • To co-laboring
  • To continual relevance

Additionally, the team worked in groups, listing behavioral illustrations for each of these values.21

Our International Council in 1989 attempted to draw out our ethos more specifically. The custom in those days was often to make lists: In this case, the council identified and discussed forty-four elements. Those that generated the most agreement,22 in descending order:

  • To every nation
  • Importance of the Scriptures
  • Spiritual reproduction
  • Practical/methodological
  • Clear calling
  • Equipping
  • Educated middle class
  • Self-sufficient/elitist
  • Organizationally minded
  • Worth of the individual
  • Individualistic
  • Emphasis on character
  • Disciplined

The mix of attractive and less wholesome ingredients was to be expected.

During the late 1980s, McGilchrist brought to the USLT several studies of the values, attitudes, beliefs of Americans in general, drawing from our investment in the “World Value Systems Study.”23 These were provided as background to the USLT’s pursuit of their bridge strategy.

The Scriptural Roots of Our Ministry and Navigator Values

By then, research for The Scriptural Roots of Our Ministry (SRM) was forging ahead. In preparation for Task Force 2, which would meet in January 1989, the introductory letter asked participants to consider which values would be essential to working faithfully and fruitfully within our sphere of service. This letter suggested that it would be helpful to distinguish:

  • Terminal values: knowing God, Christ-likeness, etc.
  • Primary values: outworkings of terminal values (knowing the Scriptures, servanthood, etc.)
  • Navigator values: our particular emphases (personal discipline, initiative, etc.)

In one of their sessions, TF2 generated thirty-five aspects of what they saw as our ethos. Here are the top twelve:24

  1. God-originated calling
  2. Individuals called to a common task
  3. Common/shared commitments
  4. Called to The Navigators
  5. Network of people loyalties
  6. Company of the committed
  7. Thirst for the cutting edge
  8. Desire to please God
  9. Special mix and combination
  10. Practical – get on with it
  11. Performance orientation
  12. Emphasis on character

It is not easy to align this with the 1987 list. Overall, the latter is more descriptive, whereas this is more aspirational.25 More accurately, it is a mix of the aspirational and our organizational profile: items 2, 4, 5, 6 are aspects of being a sodality.

Task Force 2, in a later session, generated and explored forty-four elements that were put forward as comprising our ethos. To distill these down to a digestible (but still expansive) set of our core elements, we used a process that yielded those that at least six members of TF 2 placed among their top twenty. These were:

  1. Knowledge of the Scriptures
  2. Concern for the lost
  3. Focus on the individual
  4. Laymen can do it
  5. Disciplined, objective, rational
  6. Reproduction
  7. Legacy of the Basics
  8. Emphasis on character
  9. Network of people loyalties
  10. Thirst for the cutting edge
  11. Desire to please God
  12. Practical – get on with it
  13. Performance orientation
  14. Servanthood
  15. Life upon life
  16. Making your life count
  17. Apostolic mentality
  18. Low view of local churches
  19. Strong, global vision
  20. Individual application of the Word
  21. Orientation to the promises
  22. Educated middle-class

Bear in mind that our quest at this stage was to identify and assess the influences which had generally shaped our past and to identify those which might desirably shape our future through the study process of The Scriptural Roots of our Ministry.

Task Force 2, in shaping an approach to the SRM, brought before our International Council in 1989 six undergirding values which are notable for the rising emphasis placed on the Spirit and on grace. Thus:

  • Our highest value is to know Jesus Christ and to recognize the centrality of the Cross in human history.
  • We prize a dynamic involvement with the Scriptures, seeing them as God’s authoritative revelation, leading us into truth and wisdom.
  • We value and desperately need the ministry of the Holy Spirit among us – empowering, gifting, and helping us fit in with God’s purposes.
  • We esteem God’s grace which delivers us from conformity and bondage to performance, freeing us to offer the pure Gospel to the lost.
  • We value the individual and recognize his potential as good seed reproducing the life and character of Christ in others.

We recognize the essentiality of believers “in community” characterized by love and unity, where leadership is exercised and gifts are affirmed.

As evidence of our continuity of commitment through a transitional period, we shall see in the article on “The Approach to The Core” how closely these foreshadow the values which crystallized early in the next century in The Core.

We were trying to recognize our reality.26

Three of the supporting articles submitted to this task force had been on the general concept of values. They responded to the question: “Identify the essential values that should characterize the believer. According to the Bible, how do these Value changes occur?” These papers,27 therefore, were not exegeting Navigator values but rather examining the process by which we acquire and hold our values.

Because values would be part of the output of the SRM, locally, these three preparatory papers were only a small segment of more than eighty-eight papers prepared for the task force.

When the SRM process was launched, it culminated in a forum lasting several days in which participants would together and prayerfully identify and marshal the implications of their research for ministry in their context, as Navigators.28 Three universal elements:

  • Our sphere of ministry
  • The values which we must be careful to maintain
  • The functions which we must be careful to do

SRM forums began with our first pilot model in April 1989 in Washington, DC, and were still continuing, especially in Africa and Asia, when a summary was made of the extent and impact of the process, as of 1996.29

By then, forums had been conducted in at least thirty-nine countries, some of which had held more than one forum. At the extreme, the US had held at least twenty-five forums. For each, we had a sphere of ministry, some values, some functions. Internationally, we were only able to review the statements of sphere because of the amount of material contained in the results. However, there was a marked convergence in spheres and it was evident that common themes had also appeared in the values and functions.

US Navigators and Values

Meanwhile, several segments of the US Navigators discussed and listed their values. An example is their International Ministries Group (IMG)30 which subscribed to the US national values but also added the following: servanthood, synergy, innovation, integrity, growth, authenticity. These were aspirational, in that the group wrote that they “pursued” rather than embodied these values.

By way of contrast, a US diversity task force met six months earlier and “assumed a dominant organizational culture that is white, male, conservative, middle-class, suburban, college educated and individualistic” which they saw as true “for our field staff and leaders, all the way up to the US Board of Directors.” They noted that “the past history and roots of our organization have included overt injustices and subtle forms of discrimination toward ethnic people, women, and those of different giftedness. The organization has few directives for change and a limited passion for change.”31

Later in their report, they observed that the US Navigators is dominated by a profile of SJs (personality types).32 People of this type are stabilizing traditionalists, “favoring tradition, hierarchy, order, plans, policies and procedures, methods over goals, loyalty, limited communications, and pointing only to outstanding achievement.” The report goes on to say:

This type of person (sc. SJ) is very resistant to change. Thus, this dominant MBTI type contributes to the lack of diversity within The Navigators, since diverse people bring in different points of view and are not generally accepted by SJs. The SJs’ resistance to change translates into a closed system for those who do not fit the dominant profile. . . . In the absence of Ns, who are intuitive, innovative and like challenges) results in an organizational skew and imbalance in overall leadership and in specific management processes.”

The minority of (US) staff have the P profile, especially ESTP and ESFP. P types are always open to new information. ESTPs and ESFPs are spontaneous, fun, outgoing, adaptive, tolerant of different ideas—in other words, the exact opposite of SJs. . . .

As the assessment work group33 within the task force looked back into our history and gathered the opinions of staff, they also remarked that:

Uniformity, conformity, similarity and compliance are all part of our corporate ethos. Our history clearly indicates that, for many years, all new staff were very similar. Conformity was the expectation, in anticipation of what would make a person a successful Navigator staff.

This conformity was clearly to our advantage as our staff moved from one ministry context to another: each location sported similar ministry and similar personnel. Deviation from the norm—however it was interpreted—was unacceptable. This “norm” included: ministry style; gifting and the expression of one’s gifts; activities staff participated in on the campus, on the military base, or in the community; forms of ministry; ministry outcomes; how staff lived; who lived with staff; who staff dated; and who staff married.

The report adds that homogeneous cultures have developed almost automatically inside most US corporations, institutional cultures develop based on the experiences, values, assumptions, and needs of the dominant group. One of the great ironies of organizational life is the low level of awareness of cultural norms that tends to exist among most mainstreams, or the dominant group of employees. Living in a culture that reinforces and rewards one’s behavior tends to obscure the negative aspects of the environment from one’s view. Therefore, those who are most powerful in organizations are also oblivious to the culture’s adverse impact on diversity.34

The report goes on to trace the history of gender partnering within the US Navigators. Especially revealing was the work of Sherry Hall whose 1993 Bethel College thesis on women in our ministries included a survey of more than three hundred staff which elicited 160 responses (eighty-four women and seventy-six men). In spite of some valiant attempts to refresh the male orientation that our history documents, Sherry’s survey confirmed that the task force would need to make recommendations on reducing gender disparity as well as enhancing diversity, for the flourishing of our ministries.

Values and The Core, 1990s and 2000s

Later, in June 1995, Lorne spoke to our US staff on “Our Navigator Heritage.” He articulated five principles that were similar to values and that had been passed down through Navigator generations. He called them “legacies”35 entrusted to us:

  • Loyalty to Christ and the Bible
  • Commitment to the Great Commission
  • Faith in the promises of God
  • Vision for spiritual reproduction
  • Practice of spiritual disciplines

As he emphasized, the disciplines which had been life-builders for us for more than sixty years were nicely captured by our illustration of “The Wheel.”

When our International Team met in May 2000 in Hungary, they reflected on their insights from using the four quadrants36 and focused several comments which would begin to prepare us for what became The Core. In this discussion, John Ridgway urged the need to renew and define our core values.

The article on “The Approach to The Core” describes how this evolved during the next two years until our consolidation group was ready to distill our values out of the texts that had been developed in Cyprus and Niagara. The criteria that this group used to reduce and refine our Core Values is helpful. Thus:

  • Delete values that repeat aspects of our Calling
  • Delete values that are actually strategies
  • Lift up values that reinforce our Calling
  • Focus only on global transcultural values, leaving room for others to be added
  • Treat The Core as a unit, so that some values may instead appear in the Calling or the Vision

Through the affirmation of this process by the expanded International Team in Vancouver, in May 2002, we reached a consensus on our Core Values. Although these are always to be read in conjunction with out Calling and our Vision, they are set out here as the Values on which we have functioned internationally during the years since the adoption of The Core:

  • The passion to know, love, and become like Jesus Christ.
  • The truth and sufficiency of the Scriptures for the whole of life.
  • The transforming power of the Gospel.
  • The leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
  • Expectant faith and persevering prayer rooted in the promises of God.
  • The dignity and value of every person.
  • Love and grace expressed among us in community.
  • Families and relational networks in discipling the nations.
  • Interdependent relationships in the Body of Christ in advancing the Gospel.

The final value above was added, after a spirited discussion, when the International Team met in January 2004. Some would consider this discussion to be indicative of our insularity though whether to speak of the family of God or the Body of Christ was also in play.

The introduction to The Core described these Core Values as “those central motivations that are written on our hearts. They define who we are and permeate everything we do. They guide our journey.”

Because of the vital importance of our Core Values, various Navigators were motivated to produce Bible studies37 on one or more of these Values. As of May 2003, more than fifty such studies had been produced, an average of more than five per value.

It should be noted that The Core was designed as a unit: Calling, Values, Vision. Some of our Values may be seen in our Calling and our Vision. The International Executive Team aligned around a set of understandings38 in the second half of 2002. Noteworthy in the context of this article are:

  • The Calling should not be changed
  • The Values should not be changed, but others may be added locally
  • The Vision is international: one can develop one’s own, contextually

As regards the Values, there was also freedom to set them in one’s cultural or theological framework. For example, UK Navigators prefaced them with the words, “In our humanity and weakness, we value . . .” and ended them with the phrase “. . . to the glory of God.”39

Across the years, one can discern some benefits from a strong ethos. For example, it prompts recognition and acceptance of other Navigators, it fosters high expectations, within our particular sphere, and it tends to dilute structural distinctions between “staff” and those who are not staff.

On the other hand, too strong an ethos can distance us from others in the family of God. One could say that a healthy ethos is largely unconscious: it is a natural result of what Eugene Peterson, in another context, called a long obedience in the same direction.

Frequent discussion of our ethos can be damaging. It causes us to look inward rather than outward. Carried to excess, it is akin to pulling up a plant to see how well its roots are doing!

By Donald McGilchrist

6582 Words

See also articles on:

Management by Objectives: 1968-1974
Who is a Navigator?
A History of Our Calling
Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry (FOM)
Our Enabling Global Society
The Scriptural Roots of our Ministry (SRM)
Fundamentals of Navigator Missions (FONM)
Corporate Identity
Apostolic Pioneering
The Approach to The Core


  1. See Perspectives on Values in Human Development, David L Haskell, 2006, 49 pages. Haskell, a trained Navigator, goes on to discuss other authorities such as de Tocqueville and Weber.
  2. There has been some reaction against “values talk.” For example, Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind (1987) pointed out that the dualism that came with the Enlightenment promoted a shift in terms from “morals,” which imply a sense of absolutes, to “Values” which are socially based and often relative. See also comments by Os Guinness. Also, values have often usefully been incorporated into the discussion of worldviews.
  3. See further in article 7 of the catechism (1994), paragraphs 1803 to 1829.
  4. Helpfully, an article on “Can You Control Yourself?” in Christianity Today, May 2017, offers a quote from N.T. Wright: “Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.”
  5. Edition 1 November 1978, Edition 2, April 1982.
  6. These basic beliefs are taken from Edition 1 of the FOM. When Edition 2 was distributed in 1982, “the necessity of example” had changed to “the pursuit of excellence.”
  7. “The Navigators as I see Them” in McGilchrist of March 4, 1982. Also includes “5 Strengths of Nav Leaders,” after observing them at ILC and INC.
  8. See, for example, McGilchrist article on “Worldviews” of September 2003 with an extensive bibliography.
  9. USLT minutes survey: 1977-1986, offered as a background study for FOM 3 (which soon became the SRM) and presented to the USLT in February 1987.
  10. IMLT = International Ministries Leadership Team. This is basically, the regional directors outside the US, chaired by George Sanchez. The IMLT formed in 1981.
  11. INC = International Nav Council, chaired by Sanny. Launched in December 1981.
  12. “A Macro Analysis of the Issues, Values, Assumptions and Philosophies of the Navigator Work: 1977-1986,” Stacy Rinehart, May 1987. Stacy had been working within the overall orbit of our emerging Global Society, but there were no guarantees that the values of such a society would in fact be adopted and pursued.
  13. McGilchrist interview with the Oertlis in February 2013.
  14. Reconfirmed by Sanny on 16 September 1985, prefaced by the presupposition that “there is an infinite/personal God who has purpose and character.”
  15. In The Core (2002), this had shifted to valuing “the passion to know, love and become like Jesus Christ.” This seems more self-referential . . . we value our passion rather than His person.
  16. By the time we reach The Core (2002), this had been replaced by the truth and sufficiency of the Scriptures for the whole of life (Core Value 2), an adjustment which prompted debate.
  17. S8 of February 1987 Council Minutes.
  18. GSTF met at the Glen in November 1987. It comprised twenty-five leaders of eleven nationalities.
  19. “Summary from Combined Entities,” by McGilchrist, July 22, 1987.
  20. January 1988 INC 7, listed values taken from Statements Leading towards an International Structural Model. See also The Way Ahead. Eventually, the internal title of Global Society was replaced by the warmer Worldwide Partnership.
  21. March 1988 USLT, minute 2 in support of bridge strategy.
  22. Those attracting ten or more votes. Each of the eleven participants chose the twenty elements that they individually saw as most prominent. The council noted that positive elements attracting less or no support included the centrality of Christ, the lost/evangelism, the need for the Body of Christ, lay-oriented, emphasis on the Holy Spirit. See S6 of IC 1 notebook.
  23. See, for example, an October 1988 study of seven general areas, comparing black, Hispanic, white Americans. Location: McGilchrist archives, box 81.
  24. Clearly, this list was only loosely edited!
  25. It is no longer clear what “special mix and combination” means.
  26. Note the conspicuous absence of “love” or “loving.” As we have noted, Stacy Rinehart had earlier extracted our values, assumptions, philosophies by reading sets of our IET and USNLT minutes. Care was needed, because what appears in minutes often does not catch the spirit of a gathering. We also consulted the strengths and weaknesses that Oswald Sanders (OMF) observed and mentioned at our January 1982 Pacific Staff Conference.
  27. “Values,” McGilchrist, September 1988, seven pages. This article touches on God’s character and what He values as well as worldview. Briefer papers were submitted by Paul Stoltenberg and Tom Howse.
  28. By its very nature, the SR process focuses first on the abstract and the conceptual and then moves to life change which results in the practical and measurable.
  29. Source: April 1997 summary of where forums had been conducted, with names of facilitators. See SRM January 1996 file in McGilchrist archives.
  30. Set out in “IMG Vision and Mission” dated April 21, 1993. See section 3 of November 1993 US International Missions Council.
  31. “Reaching the New America,” a summary report from the US diversity task force, page 7.
  32. Drawing from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which many of our staff had taken, discussed on page 21 of the diversity task force report.
  33. Mark Goodrich, Cheryl Nakata, Tom Steers. following quotation from page 23 of “Reaching the New America.”
  34. Extracted from pages 24 and 25 of the summary report.
  35. These legacies with brief comments are reproduced in Jerry White’s DNF letter of August 16, 1995.
  36. For an explanation on the quadrants, see my article on “The Approach to The Core.” See also “Apostolic Pioneering.”
  37. Collected by McGilchrist in 2003. See notebook.
  38. Source: IET discussions on July 31 and October 23, 2002.
  39. Text of February 27, 2009.
Copy link