Yesterday, I briefly told you that our church office manager wanted me to order some tracts for their evangelism ministry. They were trying to figure out what tracts to order (until they decided to order the sample package, which gave them one of each) when one of the ladies said, “let’s just order what (the biggest Korean church in Hawaii) already uses.” Another lady replied, “we can’t copy them. They’ll get mad and accuse us of being like them.”
It was sort of funny.
But I think we make a big mistake as a body of Christ when we think that we are competing with other churches. And, within our Korean community, I think the churches feel more in competition with one another, especially since there’s a limited group of Koreans on the island.
This is one reason why I no longer want to participate in church sporting events. I love it when another church calls us to play a game of basketball or soccer. That creates relationship and bonding. But I don’t like the Korean Church Volleyball Tournament and other church-league events that declare one church winner overall. Because, at least one church will get caught up in the spirit of competition and forget the spirit of unity. It’s not worth it. We forget that this was supposed to bring the Korean churches together, but really, it pulls apart. Our kids were just glad they beat our “rival” church. There’s arguing, finger pointing, trash talking and it ends with reluctant handshake and forced sportsmanship. I could just feel the love of Christ fill the gym.
But that’s just one small part of the community.
I wonder why we feel that we are in competition with the church down the street. I wonder why we feel it’s important that we have more members than the church down the block. What do we gain from having more members than another church?
I recall a story from my wife’s best friend. She was at an English Ministry gathering amongst the English Ministries (English speaking ministries in Korean churches) in Dallas. A woman from another church was going around saying “Our ministry has 300 plus members. You should come to our church” and was trying to lure members from small EMs to her EM. What would that accomplish?
I don’t think the churches are placed in communities to compete with and out do one another. And I don’t think we should feel threatened when a new church opens down the street from us. I don’t think we should panic when our neighboring church experiences growth. Why can’t we celebrate with how God is using that church? Why do we always feel envy/jealousness over love and respect? Many are more defensive than helpful when a new church appears on their “territory.”
I wonder how we can nurture relationships with other churches within our community and show the community that though we are different churches, we are still a body of Christ.