So you just heard the news that a new church or campus is opening up in your town … how do you respond?
We’d be lying if we said our immediate response was always a pure kingdom-minded celebration. My conversations with pastors who experience this same scenario often include sentiments like:
- Do they think there aren’t enough churches here already?
- I feel like they should have called us first.
- Are our people going to become their people?
I wish I was making this up. I also wish I had never thought or said these things myself. Somewhere along the line, if we do not guard our hearts and minds as leaders, we can begin to view churches in our community as competition rather than partners.
But this mindset is not a tension to manage. It’s scarcity-thinking that is toxic to our leadership and our church and it must change. It must change because competition-thinking is stuck-thinking.
“It must change because competition-thinking is stuck-thinking.”
Changing our thinking begins by taking intentional steps in a new direction. This is what we preach every weekend in our churches. Here are some steps to consider taking:
Call the church and get to know their story.
They have a reason for coming to town. Take the time to hear their heartbeat. Often the story behind the ministry builds connection. If you were ever in the “new” position at school, in a neighborhood, or at work, you know the difference between being talked to and being talked about. One pronoun makes a world of difference.
Celebrate the new church in a creative way.
Do this externally as a church and internally at your church in order to build a kingdom-first perspective that is healthy and biblical. To the new-to-town church, a warm welcome is needed to encourage them when they are in the middle of a launch. For a moment put yourself in their shoes and imagine what a welcome basket, some personal notes, a meal, or a team of volunteers sent to help would feel like.
Collaborate with the new church to extend the ministry reach into your community.
Ministry is always better when it’s together. Jesus prayed earnestly for unity among his followers (John 17). Imagine the picture of God’s love your community would see when new and established churches partner together in ministry.
Someone once told me that kids are always watching their parents, taking their cues about how to respond to the challenges of life simply by observing. It’s no different within our churches.
Our response to change, especially the news of a new church on the block, is an opportunity to develop a greater kingdom-mindset. It starts with healthy, intentional steps that transform our stuck-thinking into kingdom-thinking.