We are On the Same Team

Churches should compete together, not against one another

We’re on the same team, and I’m glad. So, let’s not compare ourselves to one another or compete with one another.

It’s a real discipline to learn how to be around other churches constantly without beginning to compare. Many pastors are preoccupied privately with what others are doing–whether it’s someone or some church they look up to, or a fellow church in their community. Some view those churches as competitors–though they would rarely admit so.

At some point, most church leaders will have at least a moment when they get tired of hearing about the throngs baptized at the church down the street–or the brilliant idea someone else had that garnered the community’s attention. We’ll get tired of it because it usually happens when things are flat-lined for us.

Please hear me:

Comparing yourself to others is a zero sum endeavor. Even if in your comparison you come out “on top,” you’ll rarely feel good about your ministry, your staff team, your ideas, or your vision. Why? Because you’ll either become prideful then discover a church in which the grass seems greener. Comparing your church to another isn’t fair to you, them, or the Kingdom. It’s a great way to ensure God’s blessing is removed from your ministry.

Do not compare. And, whatever you do:

DO.

NOT.

COMPETE.

WITH.

OTHER.

CHURCHES.

They aren’t our competition. They are on our team and we are, together, competing against the Destroyer. It’s so easy to get our minds around this rationally. Yet, I know it can be hard to embrace emotionally at times.

Orienting your church around others is poor leadership that leads to inferior results. I read a terrific article about how Apple’s obsession with Google is beginning to hurt it’s products in substantial ways. Click here to read it yourself. Apple will do just fine, I’m sure. But, the lessons to be learned are important for churches. The second we begin to compete with one another, we lose. The second we begin to compete together with one another, Jesus wins.

Be the best you you can be. If God has brought your church into existence and there is still a lampstand there, be faithful with little and God will likely entrust you with more. However, the more you either look down on those “under” you or grab at the heel of those above you, the less God will bless your ministry.

By the way, what’s true for churches is also true for their leaders. Don’t compare yourself to other pastors. It’ll bleed the joy right out of your ministry.

Here are some things you can do to avoid the trap of comparing/competing with other churches.

  • Confess the sin of envy and comparison before the Lord. Repent and accept His grace. Ask for His help to combat what’s going on inside you.
  • Develop a clear sense of mission and purpose for your church. The clearer your sense of what God wants you to do, the more you understand your distinctiveness and appreciate that of the churches around you.
  • Do some spiritual reflection on Mark 9–Jesus’ admonition to his disciples, “Those who are not against are for us.” The other churches around you are allies, not competitors. This is a spiritual struggle. We should use spiritual weapons to fight–the Word and prayer.
  • Go out of your way to befriend area church leaders/pastors. Then, you rejoice for their success like you would a true friend–not an inanimate object.

Wouldn’t it be great to rejoice in what God is doing all around us, and among us without comparison or competition. Wouldn’t it be great to capture the energy we waste comparing and competing for ministry and aim it squarely at the gates of hell?

Why yes, it would.

Let’s do it.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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7 thoughts on “We are On the Same Team

  1. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear this. I think so often churches, more specifically church leadership, get caught up in the idea of how big their church is or how many people came to church that week or how many got baptized that week and forget about their flock sitting right there with them waiting to be fed. Or even worse, they focus on the numbers at a different church and completely lose sight of what is supposed to be happening right in front of them. Good stuff!

    • Chandra, there’s no doubt it’s the case. I think it’s something churches creep into. They don’t usually do it intentionally. Often, it’s simply insecurity or a certain business model they lay on top of the church. It’s good when we learn from each other…not so good when we compare or compete against one another. Thanks for the comment.