When Kingdom-Minded People Conspire

Orginally published on Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 9:27 PM
by Todd Rhoades

Let’s face it, the Christian community is sometimes competitive, protective, and egotistical. Too many of us think we have original ideas (while few of us do). Too many of us think we know the best way to ‘do’ ministry (few of us do). And too many of us, while we’d never admit it, turn our whole ministry career into a competition with other churches and rivals that we constantly try to out-maneuver and out-wit. The truth is, all this striving can be good and push us to do our best for the Kingdom. But it can also be a detriment to our ultimate success in ministry. To many times, while trying to out-do and over-achieve, we end up alone and, in the end, unsuccessful. I’m discovering that an unbelievable thing happens when we lay down our competitive swords in ministry: there is actually more power in working together than in looking at everyone else as our competition.

You see, I love it when Kingdom-minded people conspire together.  Maybe it’s sharing and being open handed with your church’s resources (like LifeChurch.tv and Sea Coast Church, just to name a couple who are literally giving away all their weekend creative elements on the internet).  Maybe it’s a church looking outside its walls to partner and work side-by-side with other churches or organizations in order to serve and reach a community for Christ. 

Here are some things for you to consider today.  Maybe there are some ways you can put aside your competitive nature and conspire for more Kingdom impact:

1.  What has your church done in the past month to work with others outside your walls to reach your community?  If you’re trying to do everything on your own (or if you think you’re the only one that is qualified to do it right), then you need to re-evaluate your mindset. 

2.  What have you, personally done to help the Kingdom outside your main ministry area?  Have you met with or encouraged a friend in ministry?  Have you met with other local pastors or community leaders?  Have you turned down opportunities for greater Kingdom impact because you are so enamored with your own work or ministry?

Healthy ego and competition can be positive attributes during your ministry career.  But both must be kept in-check.  Otherwise, you will find yourself spending your days building your own deal, and vastly limiting your Kingdom impact.

When was the last time You conspired for the Kingdom?  I love with when Kingdom-minded people conspire!

Have a great week!


PS—I’d love your input on this one… what lessons have you learned about going-it-alone, or having a competitive attitude towards ministry?

This post has been viewed 846 times so far.

  There are 19 Comments:

  • Posted by SSCoach

    I learned the hard way years ago what it’s like to do ministry alone.  It leads to a competitive spirit, resentment toward those I think aren’t working as hard as I am, and eventually depression and burnout.

    Conspiring with others in ministry is not only needed for making a difference for Christ, it’s needed to help us maintain our own sense of ministry balance and self-care.
    Thanks for your post.

  • Posted by Lisa Johns

    Part of our church’s vision is to equip other Christians to change the world through irresistible lifestyles and influential works of service.  As such, we provide almost all of the original resources we create - Bible studies, sermons, children’s lessons, and other materials - on our Web site.  They are all available for free for use by others as long as they are used for God’s glory and for the transformation and growth of disciples for Jesus.  When contacted by others with questions or requests for assistance, we do our best to answer the questions and make connections that will help others take the next step.  Many ministries have shared resources and knowledge with us, and we try to do the same.  As a newer church in the community, we are sometimes viewed with suspicion: Are they trying to steal our members?  But our goal is to grow by bringing unchurched people into the Body.  Over time, other churches seems to be more willing to work with us; but it seems that there will always be some who see us as a threat.  Most of those who seem interested in what we have to offer are small US or foreign churches and missions.  As webserant, my responsibilities include not only making sure our Web site provides the required information to people who might and do attend New Life but also to provide resources that carry out our vision and mission to share the new life of Jesus Christ with the world - one person at a time.

  • Posted by Ken Davy

    While I agree that we desperately need more cooperative work, I have also seen the difficulties of making such things happen.  I was an Associate Pastor in a small community church here in East Dayton, Ohio.  In East Dayton, there are 19 churches within a 3 mile radius.  I attempted to get those churches to work together to reach the community.  The silence with which my proposals were met was deafening.  Everyone was either too busy doing their own thing or too sure they were superior to our church in some way.  Many of them rejected me personally, out of hand, when I told them that I had no seminary degree.

    I was seen mostly as a brash newcomer with quaint and idealistic notions about what koinonia means.  At any rate, nothing I said seemed to have any effect other than to get some nods of agreement about the sorry state of our area and regrets about the impossibility of making anything happen on an inter-church basis.

    Throughout the entire process I kept being reminded of a quote from Mike Warnke about the Mighty Army of God being busy “polishing their armor or fighting amongst themselves.”

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    WOW! I love some of these new voices around here.

    We are by far the biggest protestant church in our community, and we feel that we have a bigger responsibility to promote ecumenical activity than many of the smaller ones, and we try to do that.

    We have an annual event on Fathers’ Day, right after our local community has it’s big “Community Days” festival, where we shut down our church for the weekend and have our service in the City Park here in our town. The past two years (as well as this year) we’ve turned it into a multi-church event. We’ve had about a dozen of the local churches involved in some fashion.

    It is the highlight of my year. We work harder to pull it off than the other churches I think, but we should, because of our size. As a result, relations with those churches has improved dramatically.

    I love it.

  • Posted by Bill

    Todd -

    Over the last three years, our church has partnered in regular, visible, united prayer with roughly nine other local churches.  Now this has grown through patience and perseverance, and, above all, through the work of the Holy Spirit.  From a monthly local/extra-local pastors’ lunch hosted at our church, we have grown to a monthly evening prayer meeting with all churches involved, as well as weekly morning prayer with pastors and elders.  Out of this have come joint conferences and outreach opportunities, worship project collaboration and support, and recently, we have combined youth groups with one other church within our local fellowship.  This means that our two youth pastors share the leadership and discipleship responsibilities, as well as the bringing along of youth staff.  It’s thrilling!  Our overall aim, though, is not simply to work together for a common cause, but to show through our unity that Jesus Christ is supreme in all things, and that His resurrection power, love, and mercy provide real and lasting hope for a hurting world.  If you’re interested, check out our website at http://www.cryforawakening.org/.  I can say, with all honesty, that this is the greatest kingdom endeavor I have ever been a part of, and I praise God for it.  Thank you, Jesus!

  • Posted by Camey

    Yes, welcome new voices!

    We partner with many different organizations and churches throughout our town and surrounding areas. We are not a stand alone church by any means.

    We have events once a month where we go out into our community and do service type projects to share and show God’s love. The one in April has, at last count, 10 different churches participating. And I mean different churches! WHOA! We will have a kick off worship service at one church on that Friday night… out and about on Saturday and then come back together that Saturday night to share all that God did. Last year the worship services were at our physical building. We are looking forward to worshipping at another this year.

    Some of my dearest and closest friends have never stepped foot inside our physical church building. We’ve never even meet face to face. And yet, because of God’s amazing grace and love - we are walking through life together. This is how it should be, I believe as Christ followers. The walls are not the church. Therefore, the church cannot be found at one location.

    His love is not ours to keep. It must be shared. Whether with those who do not know Him or those who do. And praying for and with others is a privilege and sheer blessing. If there is any encouragement among you…

    May we all be guilty of conspiring for His Kingdom!

  • Posted by

    Hi Todd,
    Good thoughts there, but the sad thing is that many people are not geared to work together for any number of reasons.  Denominational pressures, local history, and theological differences keep us from getting on the same path towards Christ together.  I think one of the greatest reasons that churches don’t work together is the
    a) lack of a clear vision why they exist and
    b) lack of visionary leadership to implement programs to accomplish their kingdom purposes
    Churches that are growing and making a difference will partner with other churches and organzations that are doing the same and will invite those who aren’t to join them but will not wait for them to catch up…
    my two cents worth

  • Posted by

    I do not feel that I am in competition with other churches because there is enough for us all to do.  However, I have not been able to work with other churches because I am so busy with what I have on my plate serving my people.  In a sense this is good because I do not have time to wonder or become jealous of what others are doing compared to my church.

  • Posted by

    In our church’s Identity Statement, we include:

    Knowing Our “Competition”, What We Are Competing For:

    The hearts, minds, will and eternal future of all who we have the opportunity to be in contact with.

    Who We Are Competing With:

    NOT other Bible-believing, born-again churches!  BUT, with anything and everything that competes for people’s hearts, minds, will and eternal future in a manner that is contrary from Jesus!  The “Marketplace of Ideas.” Consumerism.  Rugged individualism.  Humanism.  “Talking Heads.” Other teachings/religions/philosophies.  Etc. . .

  • Posted by Peter Hamm



    That’s why our church doesn’t advertise in the paper under “churches”. We advertise in the entertainment section, not because we consider ourselves entertainment (although we are entertaining at our best) but because we want to compete with movies and bar bands. But then, we are a church for people who don’t like church.

  • Posted by Brian L.

    I’m part of an inter-denominational group of pastors here in our area.  We have Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostal/Charismatics, Salvation Army and some others (I’m Wesleyan).

    We focus on what we have in common: a belief that a person needs Christ to be saved.  We joke about our theological differences on the secondary stuff.  We don’t dismiss the importance of those differences, but we determine to not let those stand in the way of reaching people for Christ.

    We sponsor a number of outreach activities in the area, and at each activity, a number of the pastors are involved on a personal level.

    We’re all good friends, and I believe that has helped us reach more for Christ.

    Let’s have more Kingdom-minded people!

    Brian L.

  • Posted by art

    I serve with a band of Christ honoring bros and sisters serving God and our community together . . . like the Brian above mulit denominational . . . we call ourselves “Church without shoes” with a reference to Jesus washing feet . . . we remove our distinctives (our shoes/denominational stuff) and we are left with feet (Jesus) in common we live for John 17 - our current project has been iLent.org 33 pastors 20+ denominations did devotions on the gospels 138pg book and did the videos online included original artwork, original music and yesterdays etc powerful for unity, service and worship. We are coming to our community wide 25 churches Maundy Thursday communion, 40 hours of prayer, beautiful day (community service), doing justice conference etc. It changes how we live, think and experience the kingdom . . . it doesn’t translate to attendance on sunday but it is translating as it is done in heaven being done on earth . . . which I believe will bring hope, life and Christ to new generations.
    Grace - and glad to see so much changing toward something that gives hope for our land and people.

  • Posted by

    I can say a couple of good things about some of our local churches.  One church partners with another for VBS.  They share resources and experiences so they aren’t doing it alone.  It helps that they’re not really close so aren’t “competing” for the same souls, but it’s still a good attitude to have.

    My current church hosts Upward Basketball, but the teams come from all over the area.  That’s kind of cool because it doesn’t so much matter if someone who doesn’t go to a local church joins ours or not, they’re exposed to others and may go there.

    Still, I would agree that there is a lot of competition to take members from other churches and so on.  It’s even prevalent among getting new staff members - would you rather get an experienced pastor or someone just out of seminary?  I think that our current leadership has really developed more of an attitude of not trying to win people from other congregations, but from those who are not attending a local church meeting.

    Could we pool our resources better?  Probably.  It is very hard to have that attitude of not caring what local body someone joins, but caring that they have joined the Body.  I look forward to reading some of the responses on this thread.  I’m sure that there will be some great ideas.

  • Posted by

    We have several good things going with other churches in our community.  One church has even sent us a check of support, even though our denominations are different and they are charismatic and we aren’t.

    I think that says a lot.

    But we’ve felt the competetive spirit of some in our community, especially when our once dying church started growing and reaching our community. (and not via sheep stealing/ transfer, NEW believer growth).

    Theologically this church’s stated mission is the closest to ours in comparison to the other churches.  But the competetive tone and nasty rhetoric that has come from there has been unbelievable to me.  It was all good working together as long as we were the underdog!  (very sad).

    I think that churches who do not have kingdom values, will eventually stagnate in the culture of the 21st century.  And more and more we are going to need each other in the coming years.

  • Posted by art

    For us, it has taken seven years to get to his phase of “a progressiing tactical unity.” Our key is relationship. This relationship is based on the heart of Jesus, “I pray that they will be one . . . so that the world will know . . . “ Jn 17. Once we begin to pray the prayers Jesus is praying for us we have a hope. This is the great omission in my mind, the key to real church today and reaching the outsider.
    After praying for a year - weekly - we did a retreat with 13 senior pastors. No visible agenda, but to pray, love, learn and support. Fear and power were present. We spent another three year praying - no events but community wide communion once a year.It forced ambition to be exposed and die.  It allowed us to come to a place of love and trust with a core group. We have not arrived but we have seen kingdom power in our midst and salvaged pastors and churches that left alone would have likely emploded. You need large and small church pastors, but like people when we appear self sufficient it is hard to find our way to walk with others. John 17 consider seriously the prayer of Jesus, encourage that we pray the prayers that are prayed in heaven and we may indeed see His will be done on earth.

  • Posted by Greg Atkinson

    This is something very near and dear to my heart. My book, “Church 2.0”, that I’m working on talks about the churches you mentioned and Kingdom-minded leaders, which I call Church 2.0 leaders.

    I wrote a blog post about how I reach out to other churches/church leaders here: http://churchvideoideas.com/2007/12/06/whos-in-your-network/

  • Posted by

    This article is just saturated with all kinds of presuppositional fallacies.

    1. “the Christian community is sometimes competitive, protective, and egotistical. ...too many of us, while we’d never admit it, turn our whole ministry career into a competition with other churches and rivals that we constantly try to out-maneuver and out-wit. ...there is actually more power in working together than in looking at everyone else as our competition.” Only someone who has a corporate mindset to write an article entitled, “What is the biggest need in your church: Leaders vs. Managers” would even perceive that there exists any competition among churches. And if there does exist compeition among churches, it’s probably among those pastors are the ones being considered great leaders.
    2. “Too many of us think we have original ideas (while few of us do).” That’s because that’s what churches who have pastors as “leaders” do: trying to come up with new visions and new ideas. And when churches have bought into this heretical concept that pastors should be leaders, they learn to expect and demand that their pastors become competitive in producing the most and the best in their church. This article is a complete oxymoron to last week’s article.
    3. “some ways you can put aside your competitive nature and conspire for more Kingdom impact.” So the solution to avoiding competitive tension among churches is by having an evangelistic zeal, a missional compassion, and a pastoral network. I truly hope that, at best, Todd Rhoades is simply naive and idealistic to think that these are the solutions. To tell churches to hire a CEO corporate leader as a pastor in one article and then to say be evangelistic, missional and networking to avoid competitiveness in this article is like telling a church to hire a prostitute as a pastor, and then to avoid HIV, go wash yourself in the river for a week and pray for deliverance.

    To avoid competitiveness, here are the biblical mandates:
    1. The church must be Gospel-centered in its ministries.
    2. Repentance of sins is only by looking to the Cross.  Evangelism, missions and pastoral networking do not cleanse anyone of sins.

    I wish Todd Rhoades would give more solid and more correct biblical advise.

  • Posted by Pete Wilson

    Todd, this is huge. Thanks for taking this topic on. I believe this a huge challenge in the church today.

    One of the coolest things happening in our church right now is connecting with other churches in our areas. We are a five year old church plant that truly values building a Kingdom mindset.

    One important step we have taken is financially supporting a new church plant ever year right in our own community. We put our money where our mouth is.

    We have built some incredible relationships in the process and God is working in a huge way.

  • Posted by SSCoach

    Some benefits of conspiring together

    Bigger perspective;
    Sense of community;
    Less comparing-less envy-less pride;
    More ideas-better ideas;
    Sharing the load

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