I love playing games. Especially with my young boys… because I always win! Let’s face it, I am smarter, stronger, more experienced, and I know the secrets to winning. When they start figuring out the strategy its over for me.
But there’s a game we all seem to play, at least in part, in our ministry. The Comparison game. You know what I am talking about. The church down the street has a pretty great program, and all their social media post just make you drool. Students in your group even talk about that church from time to time. You know your Wal-mart foosball table doesn’t compare to their giant LED wall. So, we play the game. The strategy is simple. How can we be better than the church down the street.
You will lose every time.
You lose focus. You lose passion. You may even lose students. The question is, then, how can you win?
- Stop Playing.
That’s right. Simply stop it. It may sound easier said than done, but honestly, you just have to make the conscious choice to stop playing the game.
Sure, the grass is always greener at the other church, but they may have their problems too. Of course, they won’t promote their issues on their Instagram story. All you are seeing is the good stuff. Even with a bigger budget, better facilities, more staff, or more students, they have struggles too. That is probably comforting to hear. They are on mission and need God’s guidance just as your ministry does.
One of the things you can do to move on from the game, is to begin praying. Pray for yourself and your motives. Pray that God breaks you for the lost students who need Jesus. Pray for that other church that they are successful at reaching students as well!
- Start Partnering.
What you don’t want to hear is that they actually may have greener grass. They may be doing things that are fantastic. Perhaps students are coming to Christ and they are growing in their relationship with Him. Think about that, though. If that is happening start celebrating! Isn’t that your mission too? Stop playing the game against the other church and start working together to see more lives changed by the gospel of Jesus.
I know this can be pretty threatening. If you work together with the big church are you going to lose students to their programs? Will their staff treat you and your church like you don’t have something to offer? I have faced those exact questions. I have lost students to the big church after working together on something. I have been treated like I don’t have anything to offer. It hurts. But in the end, my intentions need to be that Jesus Christ is glorified no matter what. And I have found that when we work together, amazing things happen, even in spite of me.
Here’s the thing: For all the green-grass-envy I have for their cool stuff and exciting programs, the one thing they do not have is the relationship I have with my students. And in the end, relationship wins. The big event may be fun for a short time, but when that becomes your focus—especially out of a spirit of competition—you will lose.
Focus on the few you have been entrusted with, and God will trust you with greater things. That almost sounds like it comes from Scripture!
Ken is the Assistant Pastor at Stony Creek Church in Utica, Michigan. He and his wife have been married since 2001 and have 2 boys and live in the metro Detroit area of Michigan.
You don’t get 15 years’ experience in youth ministry without getting stuck at amusement parks, forgetting kids at rest stops, dealing with frustrated parents, but most of all, seeing life-change.