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churches do not compete with other churches

November 6, 2008

Period.

At least they shouldn’t. I don’t think they do. Any local church that’s in competition with other local churches is really in competition with God. Your church is the body of Christ, but so is theirs. You’re punching yourself in the face, and you look stupid.

I keep hearing about this competition thing lately and it’s really, really getting obnoxious. And you know where it started? In me.

Driving to church several weeks ago I noticed that Harvest put one of their Authentic Jesus series yard signs in the little grassy area at the intersection of 31 and Tollgate. I chuckled to myself as I pictured pulling over on Tollgate to pull the thing out. Good humored fun. I wasn’t really going to do it, but it was a funny thought.

For a fraction of a second until Holy Spirit slapped me.

“Who are you to stop someone from going where I want them to go?”

Local churches are all a little different. Harvest, from what I understand, has a great ministry for new Christians, or church dropouts who are thinking about returning. They’re big. They can put together quality productions. Its easy for nervous, new people to get lost in the crowd. There’s a certain credibility that comes with being big and established in our society.

There are dozens of smaller local churches in Elgin that do other things better than Harvest, but there are people who will go to Harvest that wouldn’t go to any of those smaller churches for whatever reason. If someone is uncomfortable going to a smaller church, or a church that speaks in tongues, or a church that’s in a renovated strip mall, or whatever – praise God if they’ll go to Harvest and meet Christ.

I passionately repented.

This is not a contest. Churches that try to reach Christians instead of atheists and agnostics and Muslims (etc.) are missing the point. There are people out there who call themselves Christians and are not attending a church, and those people need to get into a church. Definitely. But those people aren’t attending a local church for a reason. Maybe it’s because the churches they used to attend weren’t doing anything worthwhile, so they failed to see the point of church.

Reach to the farthest edges and you’ll catch the ones only half-way out too. We’re fishers of men, and fishermen in Jesus’ day used nets. Not lines.

I’m sorry if this is a little forward, but it seems like I’ve been seeing this attitude all over the place and I don’t know how else to respond.

I love a story Craig Groeschel shared on his blog a while back. They were struggling through some division in their congregation, so Craig researched other churches in town. He got up one Sunday morning and explained the mission and vision of their church. He then told them if they weren’t on board for that, there were brochures in the lobby for something like a dozen other churches in town. He assured people that he knows all the pastors and their ministries are sound. Hundreds of new seats were open the following week, and the leadership team was excited to fill those seats with people who could get on board with what they were doing.

What was not the point, but implied, is that their leadership team is not competing with other churches in town.

And I’m over it.

We need to stop punching ourselves in the face. Remember that scene in Fight Club where Pitt and Norton are fighting in the parking lot and the two other guys are looking at them funny? Then, at the end of the movie they play that scene back the way it “really” happened, and it’s the two guys watching Norton beat himself up? That’s stupid. That’s what we’re doing.

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