Let’s be honest, the church world is a competitive market. Whether we like to admit it or not, we want people to attend our church. When we have a friend looking for a church, we want them to come to us. This desire is hopefully driven by the fact that we truly believe that we are exalting King Jesus and our church will help them connect with Christ and others in a meaningful way. But this desire to see people at our church may sometimes be driven by the fact that we know few people look for a to go to church in the first place. We then feel the pressure to close the deal. The church as an institution is increasingly seen as unnecessary. We’ve all heard it, and many of us have thought it. “I can worship God at home.” “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” “I’m spiritual but not religious.”
This competitive compulsion that arises in us over church attendance is normal, but not helpful or even godly. As a result, we view other Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting, Christ-loving churches in our area as our competitors rather than our partners. We become afraid when we hear someone attends a family member’s baptism at another church because after all, they may like it more, connect with the pastor better, see their programs as more effective, etc.
But what if we resisted these desires and forced ourselves to think different? What if we refused to be threatened by our sister churches and instead committed to pray for them?
Luke 9:49–50: John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Our faithful sister churches are not our competitors. They are kingdom builders alongside us. If their ministry expands, so will interest in the gospel, which is a good thing for us. Let us pray that every church in our county begins to experience an explosion of growth. Let us pray that every church around us becomes more effective in ministering to others. Let us pray that every pastor becomes more competent in the pulpit as he explains God’s word and connects with the audience. Let us pray that the leadership becomes more effective in leading the church.
My friends, this perspective will make all the difference whether we sit in an associational meeting, gather at the SBC annual meeting, run into a friend at Wal-Mart who looks for a church, or minister to someone at work or school.