Is ministry cooperative or competitive?
Neither, and that’s the problem.
Cooperative parties help each other by working together. Competitive parties raise the bar by pursuing higher levels of excellence. Christians do neither.
In general, ministries do not learn much from each other. They do not push each other to greater levels of excellence, and they do not work well together. Most ministries and churches are far too narrow in terms of who they learn from and who they cooperate with.
If we could change this, the results would be earth-shattering.
Satan had better hope that Christians never figure this out, because his kingdom would be toast.
At its deepest core, ministry among believers should be cooperative. We have been saved by the same God, and the goal should be to advance His Kingdom. When one of us wins, we all win.
But we are usually more concerned with building our own little kingdoms. We care more about personal and organizational success than about the success of the gospel. Our perspective is so out of whack that we actually get upset when other ministries start helping people know Jesus more than us. Aren’t people’s eternal destinies more important than our pride, jealousy, and soapboxes?
Even if we want others to succeed, we usually aren’t very good at working together. We let minute theological differences get in the way of helping people know Jesus. We seek our own good first. We argue. We hurt each other. We can’t forgive. And all the while, Satan has a heyday in our community as we sit back and wonder why society is moving away from God. “A house divided against itself will not stand.” Mark 3:24
I like to think of ministry like a football team trying to advance the ball forward. All believers are on the same team, and the goal should be to advance God’s Kingdom.
Members of the team must have great chemistry to succeed, especially against the toughest opponents. However, there is a healthy element of competition within the team. The back-up quarterback works his tail off to become better than the starter in hopes of overtaking him. The starter works his tail off in hopes of keeping his spot. If everyone keeps their egos in check, this system elevates the standard of excellence for everyone on the team.
Team members give 110% in order to become better than each other, but the real goal is beating the other team. In the same way, Christians should give it their all in ministry and elevate the people around them to overcome the forces of darkness and help people know Jesus.
You would think that since Christians are not very good at being cooperative, we would at least excel in competition. But sadly, we actually fail in both. Generally, along with being poor team players, we are also quite lazy. Very few Christians pursue Christianity with a great deal of intensity or excellence. It is really depressing to go into a secular business meeting and listen to people passionately pursue picking the right fonts for a website when most Christians won’t even pursue the God who sacrificed His Son for them with the same level of excitement. There is a lot we could learn from the business world in terms of working hard to do things in the best way possible.
You can only change yourself.
We can’t force anyone else to work with us or pursue God with greater intensity. But if we each personally decide to be more cooperative and competitive, the world will be a different place. Examine your life, and consider how you could be a better team player and personally pursue God in greater ways.
1 Corinthians 1, 1 Corinthians 3, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 1 Timothy 4:8-16