Avoiding the church comparison trap
Comparing your church to another church can be one of the worst things you do as a church leader.
To be clear, I am not referring to learning from other churches. We can—and should—always learn from our peers and our sister congregations.
But comparison for the sake of comparison is bad. Let me share a few thoughts about this issue to expand upon my concerns.
Places to focus
We should focus on what God is blessing in our church. Do you remember Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8? “Finallybrothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (CSB).
Typically, we are not dwelling on the things of God when we compare our church to others. Too often, we are dwelling on what we don’thave. The Word of God mandates to focus on the blessings God gives us, including the blessings of our congregation.
Comparisons only make matters worse. There is little good that can come from comparing our church to others. When we do so, we are usually taking one of two postures. The first is one of jealousy; we wish we had what someone else has. The second is one of ingratitude, which leads to my next point.
Our continuous disposition should be one of joy. Just a few verses preceding the text in Philippians 4:8 I noted above is a double command to rejoice. Indeed, it is a command to be in a constant mode of joy: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
We should take great joy in the calling God has given us right now. He has you in the exact place He wants you to serve. Rejoice instead of comparing.
Comparisons give us a short-term perspective. When we compare, we long for something we do not have. Our focus shifts to a place and a calling that is not for us. As a consequence, we often desire to be somewhere else. We develop a short-term perspective for our current calling.
Our congregations need leaders who are willing to serve for the long haul. The green grass of the other church is often brown once we get there.
We are not showing love for the bride when we compare. Marriages begin to deteriorate when a husband or wife compares his or her spouse to someone else. “If only my spouse were like that other person,” we may think. Such thoughts show dishonor to our spouse.
The church is the bride of Christ. We are not showing love or honor to His bride when we compare her to others.
Learn, don’t compare
Learn from other churches. It is always healthy to be in a learning disposition.
But don’t compare your church with others in a negative sense. Nothing good can come from it.
Instead, rejoice in your present calling. Such an attitude will transform your leadership. Consequently, it will transform the church to which God has called you.
Photo source: istock
Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 25 books, including his latest release from B&H Publishing Group: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church. His 2013 book, I Am a Church Member, has sold more than one million copies.
Learn More »