When churches compete, we become a business . . .
I still remember why I went into the ministry. It seems like it was just yesterday.
I had hopes and dreams as I looked ahead to the life I was choosing. I dreamt of making money . . . a lot of money! I couldn’t wait for the thrill of crushing the competition, that exhilaration of getting to the top no matter the cost. I was excited to carry a briefcase, wear a tie and over-part my hair.
I knew one day I’d get to study reports with epic bar graphs. I’d hire guys named Spencer or Gary or Stewart who all went to the best schools. And the idea of an afternoon playing golf was almost too much to imagine.
Oh, wait . . . sorry . . . that’s not ministry, that’s business.
I guess it’s easy to confuse the two because they are beginning to look so much alike.
When churches become competitors, we act as rivals, trying to reach the same target demographic and, believe me, it can be cutthroat. I’ve seen churches steal ideas, undercut each other, start smear campaigns. I’ve seen it all and I have no stomach for it.
To be truthful, I actually do still remember why I went into vocational ministry.
- I bought into the idea of living a life committed to something greater than myself.
- I believed that Jesus was the only hope for a world sinking in hopelessness.
- I believed that faith and worship and community could break down walls built by fear and hardened by hatred.
- I believed that I was joining a fraternity of heroes who had committed to lay down their lives for the One who laid down His first.
I know it sounds stupid and silly and naive. But don’t tell me it’s impossible, because I still dream these same dreams for you.
We understand there are business aspects and practices in running a church, but we should refuse to incorporate these practices against other churches. Will you compete? Yes. You’ll compete against evil in the ancient battle for the souls of men. You’ll compete with your brothers, not against them.
Maybe if we fight together instead of apart, maybe if we fight back-to-back instead of face-to-face, maybe if we turn on our enemy instead of turning on each other — maybe then we will all see some of these stupid, silly, naive dreams we once dreamed come true.