Thursday, May 10, 2012

How Do You Compete with the Megachurch?

As the pastor of a small or smaller church, how do you compete with the Megachurch?  You don't!  The answer is obvious, it seems, as we are not and should not be in a "competition" in the body of Christ.  Our struggle is not against each other (church vs church) but with the powers and principalities, the world forces of darkness that surround us, and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Our struggle is to present the gospel to the unsaved to bring them to Christ, and explain the gospel to the saved to make them more like Christ.  When you are competing with another church or churches, then you are competing based on observables (like buildings, numbers, programs, popularity/notoriety) which have nothing to do with bringing people to Christ, or making them more like Christ; which is the hidden work of the heart.

Here are three other reason's not to compete with the megachurch.

1.  The usual reasons behind competition of this sort are ugly.  Ego, jealousy, bitterness, selfish ambition, anger, revenge, discontent, and the like, are not wisdom from above, but are the wisdom of this world; which is earthy, natural, and demonic.

2. You don't have the resources to compete (money, talent, people, buildings, recognition, and so on).  I watched another local small church use many tactics and gimmicks over the last 3 years to try and compete with a couple of the larger churches; and they spent money they should not have spent, wore their people out, and discouraged themselves in the process.  They now have a new pastor, and the former pastor is working a secular job.

3. Many times competition leads to compromise, sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional.  The reasons listed in number one above can blind us to the compromises that we make.  Sometimes, yes, even many times, the gospel is at stake.  Compromising on the gospel will soften its impact, dull its sharp edges, or even lead to abandoning it all together in order to be more attractive, less offensive, or more with it. Compromise can lead to ignoring or overlooking or making excuses for sin in the church; and sin not dealt with is sin that begets more sin, as a little leaven leavens the whole lump.

You know, competition for competition's sake is never a good thing.  Emphasis on growing the church instead of growing the disciples will always take a church down the wrong path.  The emphasis in the Scriptures is never on the size of a church, but always on the Christlikeness of the people.  The only church we see commended in the NT epistles is the church at Thessalonica, and its commendation is for its reputation of repentance, faith, and gospel sharing (I Thessalonians 1:6-10).  Even the two churches commended in Revelation were small, struggling, and suffering.

So, if you are tempted to compete, examine yourself to see what your motive is, and ask yourself what would I have to compromise on. Check yourself and be honest with yourself as this may reveal your true priorities in ministry. Remember:

Better is the little of the righteous
than the abundance of many wicked.
Psalm 37:16

Better that this describes your life and ministry. 

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