Co-Laborers not Competitors

Avoid the comparison game.

by Mark Entzminger/ January 25, 2016

In the Gospel of John, we find a great story where the disciples of John are playing a comparison game. We pick it up in John 3:26, “They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.’”

If you were to play this out in today’s church, it may have sounded a bit more like this… “Pastor, that man who you introduced me to at the coffee shop yesterday, the one you said just moved to town—check out his new website, he’s starting a capital campaign and wants to purchase the land we had our eyes set on. It looks like his church is growing more than ours.”

It’s easy to fall into the comparison viewpoint in local church ministry. Social media makes it even easier. Each week you can find yourself comparing your theme, stage design, check-in system, pastor’s preaching, worship, and more to dozens of other churches worldwide.

When that happens, we find ourselves comparing our realities to someone else’s best moment in time.

Five defenses against becoming a church competitor.

  1. Celebrate God’s goodness: Refuse to get bent out of shape when someone receives a blessing from God. If they are growing, getting a new worship center, or have the coolest kidmin website—rejoice with them.
  2. Remember God is the source of everything: If you depend on your church board, pastor, or rich church member, you will find yourself disappointed at some point. Psalm 25:3 says, “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.” James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. Keep your trust in the Lord.
  3. Invest in others: People usually want a return for an investment. But there are times in the ministry when obedience and generosity are their own reward. Find a church that does not have a children’s pastor and discover how you might be able to invest in their ministry.
  4. Pray: Create a list of all the churches in your community and commit to praying for their leadership.
  5. Identify the real competitor: We do not wrestle (compete) against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and rulers of this world. The biggest “children’s ministry” is not in a church—it’s those who never have an opportunity to attend. Those are the people we should be pursuing.

John the Baptist said it well in his response: “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven… He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:27,30).