Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Not-Competitive Enough?

Well, I thought that this blog entry was worth some discussion. The fact that is a blog entry based off an article makes it doubly blog-ish.

Here's the thing, I think asking the question, "Are pastors competitive enough?" Springs from a bad well. Especially given the nature of competition in the corporate workplace where people will strive to protect their little fiefdoms in order to retain the potential for advancement. This type of competition is seen among pastors all over the place, and it's rather sick. We compare worship attendance, budgets, sermon series, what programs we run, and what books we read in order to see where we rate with the pastor down the street, around the corner and in the next down. Pastor gatherings become times to create the pecking-order of dominance of discussion leader, innovative thinker, gentle shepherd, and burn-out struggler. It's sick, but it's hard not to do this. We are, after all, products of our culture - and this culture is designed to foster competition in an effort to bring "progress" (whatever that is). Andy Rowell attempts to redeem the competitive struggle that most pastors find themselves in by saying,
I would encourage pastors to be aware of their competitive bent. If we have a drive to see our congregation "win," that is an appropriate desire. But we should make sure we define what it means to "win" appropriately. We want the church to produce better and more disciples of Christ who live sacrificially. Winning isn’t about the ABC's (Attendance, Buildings and Cash).
I'm not sure, however, that this is enough of a corrective. If the impulse of competition fostered by this culture is a "sick well" (which I believe it is), then we are probably better off dropping the language of "winning" altogether. After all, when we "win" we are celebrating ourselves - I'm not sure this is compatible with the call to be "crucified with Christ."

I'm also not sure about Andy's belief that the corporate world, or people with business saavy, can teach Churches how to make decisions faster. Sure, start ups turn on a dime because they have to do so - but "mature" companies are slow moving and plodding as they look at the bottom line (Microsoft anyone?). Companies like Apple, which re-learned how to make near-instant pivots, are a rare breed. What's more, if we try to take our cue from the business world in helping congregations "wake up," then we're bring that competitive spirit as well - a spirit which says, "If I am going to win, you are going to lose." Haven't we seen enough of that in our churches already? Cripes, this type of competition is so prevalent already that many pastors can't so much as breath about faithfulness, deep-discipleship, or a re-evaluation of the community without having the competitive system move to destroy the threat.

Here's the question I'd like to posit instead, "Are pastors submitted to Christ enough to be a truly prophetic voice in the Church?" See the switch? In the self-promoting world of corporate competition, the idea of submission is anathema - the Church needs to allow that discipline back into the mix!

No comments: