In my community, there are a couple of new church starts kicking off. One’s in my denomination and another is in a denomination not too dissimilar to mine.
I’ve met both pastors. They’re younger than I am. They have more energy than I have (barely!). And they both have denominational funding behind them.
But they’re not my competition … even though all three of us are focused on reaching a similar demographic in our ±30,000 populated town.
No, my competition, our competition, is Little League, soccer practice, Meet the Press, IHop, X-Box, and the anti-church/anti-Christian culture in general.
How do you compete with that?
Two words: Value and Excellence.
Value: All of your competition offers perceived high value to their participants. Kids learn sportsmanship, leadership, socialization, competitiveness, and physical fitness. The adults experience relevant debate, a good meal with good service at a reasonable cost, competitiveness married to leisure, and validation of their worldview (that was largely formed by culture). At least 85 percent of our American culture percieve these values more compelling than the value they perceive they would get at church.
Excellence: All of your competition understands excellence. Sure, they all fail now and again, but by and large, they not only strive for excellence, they deliver it. On the other hand, most Americans find the church out of touch, out of step, dated, and content with “good enough,” which is never good enough.
If you feel the need to compete, and I hope you do, take a look at what the competition is offering and figure out how to offer more value more excellently.
PS, Yes, Christianity offers an eternal value that is priceless, plus there’s all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that anyone could ever want. But few Americans are “worried” about eternity and fewer still believe that the church is delivering the rest of those “values” … as demonstrated by the “Christians” they’ve seen, met, heard about, married, etc. Whatever value your church offers is going to have to be tangible, visionary, inspiring, and realized in the hearts and lives of your members … and of course it will have to be offered with excellence.