Your reaction to this title might be, “Duh, of course we should not compete with other churches.”
But, in reality, many church leaders do play the dangerous game of comparisons. They are seeing how their church stacks up to other churches. It’s a form of competition. And though the title might state the obvious, allow me to remind you with seven clear reasons why it’s wrong to compete.
- We are on the same team. Competition and comparisons imply that churches are on different teams. Not true. Though our doctrinal alignments may not be perfect, all true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ are on the same team. We fight the same enemy. We have the same mission.
- A mindset of competition distracts from a mindset of the Great Commission. When you focus on something, you are doing so to the exclusion of everything else. If you are focusing on measuring your church compared to others, you are doing so to the exclusion of focusing on the Great Commission.
- Every local church is different. We have different sets of members. We are located in different contexts. We have different strengths and challenges. We can’t compare our church with other churches because God gave us each local church as a unique expression of His ministry.
- Comparison and competing with other churches are forms of lust. You desire something that is not yours. You are not content with that which God has given your church. You want something God does not want your church to have.
- Comparison and competing with other churches are demonstrations of a lack of gratitude to God. Instead of praising Him and thanking Him for what He has given you in your local church, you instead issue a form of complaint to God that He has not given you what the other church has. It is a total and sinful lack of gratitude.
- You are not true to your call when you compete and compare your church to other churches. God has called you to the church where you currently serve. He has not called you to another church that is a point of comparison. You have the “grass is greener” syndrome when you make such comparisons.
- God does great things when His leaders work together. We can do so much more together. And though we may differ on tertiary doctrinal issues, we agree on much more. When God’s leaders work together, iron sharpens iron and the mission of God becomes richer and more effective.
I am excited to see many church leaders and churches working together for God’s glory. Our community of 2,000 church leaders at Church Answers Central is a key example of that synergy and effectiveness.
We would love to have you join this message board built for ministry. Try it out for free and see what God can do when many of us work together.
Posted on November 2, 2020
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom
I always find these types of articles extremely interesting.
As someone who for 11 years navigated leading a Church and passionately doing all I could to build unity and action with the other local Churches, there is much I could say!
My very honest and gut hearting truth in all this and all that has been expressed is true. We are all called and placed by God to reach and serve our town.
At the same time leaders are people and many I have seen have struggle ultimately with insecurity in that leadership.
When others have built their ministry in part doing what they could to damage another, it makes this desire and sentiment very difficult, in fact close to impossible.
If I was having a face to face conversation with you all or some I would say more…
In the meantime I still believe in the Church. I want the best for it!
I also hope and pray as leaders we can all grow up and fulfilled the call without damaging each other along the way.
Sorry for my spelling mistakes! Just noticed them…
Excellent points. I would add that when we compete with each other, we are not really living in accordance with our Lord’s teaching and example. We are not acting like his disciples. Churches may have disagreements over certain theological issues but that does not mean we cannot cooperate with each other. A number of churches in my community support our local food bank. These churches have different theological views. Some practice believer baptism; others baptize infants. Some believe grace is inputted. Others believe it is infused. All of them, however, have a heart for those in need, for the family that may go hungry because it has lost its only source of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To my mind churches that operate from the position that there is not enough to go around and therefore view other churches as competitors have an impoverished view of grace., of God’s love and his mercy. I have been doing a homily series on Jesus’ teaching and example found in the Gospel of Matthew. Over and over again Jesus emphasizes being merciful like God, being generous, being loving, being kind, being forgiving, being compassionate, being humane. Seeing other churches as competitors does not fit with what Jesus is teaching and modeling for us. One might say it is the world’s way. It is like the kid who is always first to grab a handful of cookies from the cookie jar. He may not leave any for his playmates. That kind of selfishness is not what genuine Christianity–Jesus’ way–is about. What Jesus tells us is “don’t worry about whether is sufficient. God will provide.” And he does.
Well said, Robin.
I have worked as a lay person (Deacon, Elder, Conseilleur Presbyteral, Lay Preacher) across a range of Denominations always with very friendly relations with Catholics. We each have something to contribute and should learn from each other. Even non-Christian traditions have things to teach us. I’ve been aware of much generosity from Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
Thank you, Michael.
Jesus said “I will build my Church” and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it “Whenever we begin to use man made theology and worldly knowledge to build a Church we always come up short of Christ’s plan for HIS church.WHY? We bring man made ideas, methods, and interpretations and requirements, (Doctrinal beliefs, etc, Statements of faith. Result, many denominations, fragmentized churches, not of the Body of Christ, We are all of one. One God, one Lord, one Holy Spirit and one CHURCH! The one the Lord is building! Of all the churches that formed from the the apostle Paul’s preaching the one factor that stands out is his method of beginning to visit the Jewish synagogues and preach and clearly teach Christ and the new covenant. He infuriated many of the Jews but some believed and along with many gentiles .It also reveal’s Christ’s working through the Holy Spirit to add to His Church all that believed. Lesson for today is follow the formula, (the blue print ) the Lords! He sent them to out Proclaim, present the word, teach the word guide into all truth and teach others so they may grow in Grace and they then my teach others .Cleverly designed formula’s of man doesn’t work! You are adding and altering to Christ’s tried and true method of building His Church. There is only one foundation that is laid, one corner stone and the Apostles DOCTRINE. Caution!! Not Man’s doctrines, no private interpretation, they just tend split and divide. Results in different denomination’s, fellowships, evangelist congregations that must defend their doctrines etc. The one profound truth that works is He sent them out, Matthew 28:18-20, the great commission. The Apostles, the evangelists etc. When is the last time Pastors, evangelists, elders, and members went out carrying the carrying the good news .He didn’t make CEO’s, He made Pastors and Elders to teach and guide. Question , Jehovah witness, Mormons, etc are out bringing uneducated men and women and children into a devils trap. Where are the watchmen? In the Church’s house eight to five? We have only one CEO, Jesus Christ! and we must give account one day to Jesus Christ. What then? Man made formulas, idea’s dosen’t work. Christ’s does!
It all comes down to whom you think or have decided is going to hell. Churches rarely work together when one church thinks they are perfect and the other one down the road is hell-bound. Also, when a church has high fixed expenses and loan payments coming due, there is 1 less donor if the church down the roads gets the person. People are seen as mere donors, not as children of God.