Why THAT church is better than your church

The conversation was going well with my pastor friend until the topic shifted to another church in his area. Apparently, talking about THAT church hit a nerve. Before I knew it, I was hearing an in depth analysis about THAT church and its pastor and how they are stealing people from all the other churches in the community. Stealing? Well maybe not "stealing" he admitted, but courting them with flashy worship and big events and the "cool factor" that other churches like his own couldn't pull off. And did you know, he asked, that they don't even preach the Bible there? In fact, in their worship services they play "secular" music. The substance in THAT church is about an inch deep and a mile wide, he told me.

I wasn't sure how to respond to such a scathing critique about this sister church. Probing a little deeper I found that my friend had never actually been in that church to observe these heretical phenomena nor did he personally know the pastor or any of the staff. But, he had heard enough from others to convince him that what was occurring in THAT church was no more than a spiritual sleight of hand. "Aren't many men and women coming to faith in Christ because of that church's ministry? Isn't this pastor using the church's resources for the greater good of the community so that the name of Jesus is getting out there?" I asked. Unable to honestly answer these questions without revealing his obvious bias and ignorance on the subject, my friend quickly delved deeper into character assassination. It was at this point that I excused myself so that I could go to the bathroom and vomit.

Now before you start scouring my social media friend lists to see who this guy was, I have to tell you that this actual conversation never happened. Rather, it is based upon a compilation of comments and complaints I have been hearing from other pastors and churchgoers who have expressed the exact same sentiments and opinions that I have typed above. It seems that when another church begins to flourish many of us feel threatened by their "success." As a result, we seek to get our hands on any information that we can that might detract from the work that God is doing through this particular ministry, whether it's being critical of the pastor's style of preaching, accusing them of being unbiblical, suggesting that they don't even preach the Bible, to claiming that all of their rapid growth is due to gimmicks and spiritual smoke and mirrors.

Are there churches and ministries that are not being faithful to the word of God? Yes! We see from time to time where a pastor (or his wife or other staff member) will say and do things that are obviously contrary to the teachings of Scripture, and in those instances we must stand up and declare what is true while calling these men and women to repentance. (Note: This is usually what we DON'T do because it is so much easier to post incriminating reports on social media and engage in blog-bashing as opposed to lovingly correcting our brothers and sisters when they are in the wrong)

More often than not when we see other churches growing and attracting people, we feel the need to compete rather than compliment, to be jealous rather than joyful. So many times we start our conversations about other churches with the words, "Yeah, they are really growing, but did you know..." We resort to finding critiques as to why they are growing instead of rejoicing that God is using them to bring men and women into His kingdom.

And do you truly want to know what is going on beneath the surface when we choose to pronounce judgment rather than proclaim praise for other church ministries? We are indicating how we see and feel about ourselves and our own ministries. When you don't feel good about yourself, it's easy to pull others down to your level. Oh, we do so in the name of biblical integrity and trying to "protect" others, but the truth of the matter is that if we were more concerned with seeing Jesus made famous in the lives of the men and women God has placed around us, we wouldn't have to wonder why God is using THAT church and not our own.  

John the Baptist said it best in John 3:30 when he said about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." As long as you are focusing on what you don't have and critiquing what others do, then you are seeking to increase yourself at the expense of Jesus. But when you raise Jesus to the preeminent place in your church and ministries that is reserved for Him alone, then you will find that you aren't so concerned or consumed with what God is doing in THAT church because you will be too busy with all that God is doing through YOUR church. 

1 comment:

kimyork321 said...

Beautiful. Thank you. That made me cry. As believers, we must be vigilant to keep our eyes on Jesus, instead of each other, so that all we do will be for HIS fame, and HIS glory!

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