We could use a little competition in the church. I know, that’s a “bad” word around most church people, but frankly, I’m not your average church guy. I guess coming from the business world into the church world one of the things that has baffled me the most is this anti-competitive spirit among pastors and churches. I really believe a little competition could do us all some good.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m advocating. I believe we are all on the same team. I think, if we have a passion to reach people for Christ (the one and only Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Creator of the Universe who died and rose again and only through Him we receive eternal life Christ….just so I’m clear) then we share the same basic vision for our church. We are all trying to disciple people to reach more people for Christ (Yes, that same Christ.)
What has seemed strange to me is how many tend to view any church that honors Christ opening near their church that also honors Christ. (Again, same Christ.) When we started our church one would have thought we were starting a war in some people’s minds. This is my second church plant. This one happens to be in my hometown. The first one was not. Because I was an unknown planter I didn’t bother anyone there until we started to grow and then it seemed every large church in town wanted to get to know me so they could figure out what we were doing. I always felt the main thing they wanted to know was how many of their people we had. People can criticize the way we began. (I’ve seen the Ed Young Jr. video criticizing what he calls “church pirates”.) They can argue against our methods (to reach people for the same Christ I remind you), but the bottom line most of the time, at least it appears to me, is that in the church world some feel there is to be no competition. This is especially true within particular denominations.
That appears exactly opposite of the business world. Competition in business serves a great function. Today in Philadelphia I saw a Ted’s Montana Grill right next to a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Of course, anyone who goes to Philly is made aware of Pat’s and Geno’s steak sandwich war that’s been going on for years. They are right across the street from each other. Almost everywhere I see a Lowe’s I also see a Home Depot nearby. Some say the best pace to open an independent coffee shop is near a popular Starbucks. Why do the best malls have the nicest food courts; with dozens of restaurants located next to each other? Have you ever been to a farmer’s market? Just wondering: is it still called a farmer’s market if there is only one farmer there?
Could it be because the business world knows something about competition that the church world needs to learn? Perhaps we need to learn a valuable business principle that competition drives interest, which generates traffic, which translates into bigger sales; which happens to be the like goal of each of the businesses. If we are all in it for the same end purpose, maybe we need to be less afraid of competition and more grateful when someone in the same “industry” of leading people to Christ (same Christ) opens nearby. We might even want to help them get started. It might be good for “business”.
By the way, in addition to greater sales, competition also has a way of generating better quality and we all know a few churches (including mine) that could always use more of that….