The Competition?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A few weeks ago, in our first ministry teams meeting, we discussed the implications of viewing the church as a business versus viewing it as a family. Though the church must carryout some business tasks, several New Testament passages teach us to think of one another as family (e.g., Matt 12:46-50; Matt 23:8; Rom 12:10; 1 Tim 5:1-2; 1 Jn 3:10).

This week I thought of another implication of viewing the church as a family. It has a dramatic effect on who you identify as the competition.

If you view the church as a business, you see other churches as the competition. The religious “market” isn’t infinite. Building a successful church business is all about getting a bigger share of the market by offering a better product to religious consumers. Nothing could be farther from a biblical view of the church! But if we’re honest, we have to confess that though we may not use those words, we still fall into thinking this way.

When you view the church as a family, however, you can’t view other churches as competitors. They’re fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They may have a different personality and values. They may differ on some theological convictions. But if they teach a biblical gospel, they are our extended family.

Of course, calling other churches family is a lot easier than actually relating to them that way. However, it seems like I’m not the only pastor who felt the conviction that we need to relate to one another in a more brotherly way.

Last fall, Ben Hulst, the pastor of Comstock Christian Reformed Church invited pastors from Comstock area churches to meet for lunch.  Initially, we  discussed the possibility of our churches working together with Youth for Christ to develop an outreach ministry for Comstock High School. (We’ll say more about this soon.) Through this something powerful is developing.

As I drive by other church buildings in town, I think about those churches differently. I know the pastors. I have a sense of their heart for ministry. I find myself praying for them and for their churches to be faithful to God and His Word. This week as we met again these men shared ways God was at work—answers to prayer. They encouraged me. They prayed for me and for all of you. We’re relating as family.

So if it’s not other churches, then who is the competition? In Ephesians 6:12, Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Christians are a family locked in a battle against Satan and his influence and control over the lives of people all around us.  In Ephesians 6:13-20 Paul responded to this struggle with Satan by calling us to take up the full armor of God. This was his picturesque way of describing the life of the person who believes, lives, and communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray that we and our fellow brothers and sisters in other church families would stand firm in our faith inviting people throughout our community to be rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13).

– Bryan Craddock

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