By Josh Reavis
There are a lot of churches in my city. Like, a lot.
Every morning when I’m driving to the office, I pass churches of all styles, shapes, and sizes. Almost every week, I drive past one of these churches and see a sign advertising a new service, program, or event.
I’d love to tell you my first instinct is to cheer them on and celebrate a fresh work happening in our community. The truth is, my first thought is often, “Is that something we should be doing?”
Churches can be quick to demonstrate the attitude of the disciples in Luke 9:49: “Master, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow us.”
The disciples saw someone doing similar work in the name of the same Lord, and their first thought was, “How do we shut this guy down?”
The last word of that verse is telling. The disciples weren’t concerned the man wasn’t following Jesus. They were concerned because he wasn’t part of “us.”
We can all be jealous over our flock, but it’s important to remember that the fear of losing members is a terrible motivation for ministry.
That kind of fear will drive a pastor to try to do all the things.
If the new church plant in town is going to have contemporary worship, then we need to start a contemporary service.
If the church around the corner is starting a “Celebrate Recovery” ministry, we need to have one too.
If the church down the street is starting a sports program for kids, we need to put basketball goals up in the parking lot and get started ASAP.
A church that’s frantically trying to keep up with the Jones will soon have a pastor, staff, congregation, and budget stretched dangerously thin.
This is a perfect formula for burnout. What’s a better formula? Three things come to mind.
1. Be Yourself.
In Scripture, we see the church gathering on Sunday to pray, give, praise, and preach. I believe these things should be happening every week in any New Testament church.
I also believe that methods and style are not as concrete.
Your church is a part of the Church in your town. Each congregation has unique strengths and resources that meet particular needs within that community.
It’s liberating when you embrace the truth we’re not competing entities, but members of the same organism—the Bride of Christ. Your church may not be for everybody, but it’s for somebody.
2. Know Your Limitations.
Your church has finite resources. You only have so many staff members, church members, square feet, and dollars.
It’s okay if the church down the street offers ministries that your church doesn’t have. Instead of trying to do everything, focus on what you are capable of and equipped to do well.
Instead of doing a bunch of things haphazardly, consider doing fewer things better. Maximize the time of your people, the space in your building, and the money you’re entrusted to steward.
It’s better to have one prospective family choose to attend a church down the street because they want their kids to play soccer there than to lose the core of your congregation because they’re totally exhausted.
3. Remember the Mission.
So what was the response of Jesus in Luke 9:50? “Don’t stop him, because whoever is not against you is for you.”
Jesus was reminding the disciples of a truth that churches in 2019 need to hear: We’re on the same team!
We all need every Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church in our area to succeed for the sake of the Kingdom.
If your goal is to establish your kingdom, you’ll do everything necessary to undermine and undercut other ministries. If your goal is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, you’ll celebrate, support, and cooperate with the church plant in the school and the megachurch downtown.
We can’t forget that churches have a common enemy, and it’s not each other. The other like-minded churches around me aren’t my competition; they’re co-laborers.
I’m thankful for every one of them.