Avoiding the Church Comparison Trap

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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 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 the concern.

  • We should focus on what God is blessing in our churches. Do you remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8? "Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things." We are not dwelling on the things of God when we compare our church to others. We are dwelling on what we don't do. 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 taking one of two postures. The first is one of jealousy; we wish we had what someone else has. The second posture 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. Again I will say, rejoice! (Phil. 4:4). (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 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 from other churches. It is always healthy to be in a learning disposition.

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But don't compare your church with others in a negative sense. Nothing good can from it.

Rejoice in your present calling. Such an attitude will transform your leadership and, as a consequence, transform the church to which God has called you.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

This article originally appeared at thomrainer.com.

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