[ecko_quote source="John 17:23"]I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.[/ecko_quote]
I heard a story about F.B Meyer, the great Bible scholar, teacher and Pastor lived a century ago. While he was pastoring a church and he began to notice a steady decline in attendance of his Church. This was continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation the reason for this steady decline in numbers. A member volunteered and said “it is because of this new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking, and many are going to hear him speak, and his name is Charles Spurgeon”
Meyer, rather seeking to discourage this, exhorted the entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this “move of God” as he described to his congregation “if this is happening, then God must be at work”. Meyer, even though he was an accomplished preacher and teacher, recognised where God was at work and joined with Spurgeon.
I think that should be the attitude of Pastors; to recognise the move of God and move accordingly. In contrast, we can see competition among churches and fellowships destroying the work of God. The competition has penetrated into the Church and the Ministries. They have become more like a sports event. They do everything to gain market share and use every possible technique to gain people from other fellowships. They would not go fishing themselves but steal from others. They totally forget the fact that we are all on the same team, same great commission, in fact, same Father’s business. We should be seeking to impact the Kingdom of God, not increase our own market share. We can see Ministries building their empires (like a family business) instead of building the Kingdom of God.
There are at least two signs of competition among churches, or should I say among Pastors. The first is the act of wondering how big or how many are attending another church and the second is the inner disturbance of wanting to win (in the game of numbers). The single most important sign of non-competition between churches or Pastors is when a church or Pastor rejoices at the success of another church. Local churches in my area compete against each other.. who is the biggest, who has the best worship, who preaches better? And in the midst of it, people are forgotten. The newer Christians are not discipled correctly; with Pastors feeling threatened by anyone they see has the potential to pass them up in some way.
Further, if you think the church/fellowship across town is your competition or if you think a new church opening up in your area is a threat to your fellowship, you need a mission lessons (Mark 16:15 (Great Commission) - Go into all the world and preach the Good news to everyone). If you think you need to match area churches/fellowships, brick for brick, an event for event, the programme for the programme, gimmick for a gimmick, you need a mission lesson. Our strategy should be to build relationships with non-believers, share faith and invite them to experience the new community of the church which is the essence of Great Commission.
Churches and fellowships do not understand that their real competition is a darkened world and the blindness of sin-stained lives. Satan would love nothing more for churches than to see each other at the heart of the contest, and to fall prey to petty grievances and complaints, rivalry and strife, jockeying for position in the battle for existing sheep. Satan knew Jesus was right “A kingdom divided against itself will collapse (Mark 3:24). So Satan seeks to divide.
I have several Muslim and Hindu friends and have been closely associated with their belief and worship systems. I have never seen/heard anyone of them inviting others to a specific Masjid or Temple. I have seen our Muslim friends during the “Salah” time (prayer time) when it begins they go to nearest Masjid depends on their position. They don’t bother whether the Masjid is in Mehadipatanam, Malakpet, Nampalli or Chadarghat. It is a sad practice in Christian community forgetting that the only requirement of worship is to worship Him in Truth and Spirit (John 4:24). Those who do not have the living God are doing well in the matters of unity and worship.
This is not to say that there can’t be honest disagreements between churches, and sometimes the practices of one church or another in your city may force you to distance yourself a bit for the preservation of your integrity. But those kinds of qualifiers are a given and don’t have anything to do with competition.
When Jesus made this statement about unity in John 17:23, it represented the key to bringing the salvation to many. He was saying that when His Body is unified, the non-Christian would be able to see who Jesus is - the Son of God. Are you contributing to the unity of the Body of Christ? Or are you contributing to a spirit of competition? Ask God where you can be an instrument of unity in His Body. I am sorry for little bit long devotion.