In my nursing career there was question that would often come up in meetings that used to drive me crazy. It seemed like anytime we were discussing how to address an issue someone would ask:
“What are others doing about this?”
This same question often comes up in the church as well. In fact there is a common temptation/tendency in ministry to look at other ministries and want to be like them. Maybe to wish you had what they had, or that you could do what they do. When we are faced with a problem in our ministry or we have an idea that we are not quite sure how to address we look to see what others are doing.
Who cares what others are doing? When this question would come up in meetings at the hospital I would have to fight the urge to jump and scream this. You see, I believed that the combined intelligence and experience in those meetings was enough to solve the problem, without constantly looking at what others were doing. If we are only ever willing to do what others are already doing then we will only ever be as good as the people we copy; we can never be better than them. This is not good enough for me. I want to do as good as I can do, not only as good as someone else can do.
Where’s the Holy Spirit? I know that this may seem like the super spiritual answer, but what happened to the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit? Are we not created in the image of the Creator? Are YOU not created by, in the image of, and inspired by the same God that the church down the road is? If so, then who should you go to when you need ideas or inspiration?
BUT, there is value in LEARNING from other churches. Ok, now comes the part where I sound like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. There are things that we can learn from other churches. What we SHOULDN’T do is try to directly copy what other churches are doing. What we SHOULD do is look for the principles within what they are doing that can be transferred to your ministry. Don’t copy them, but ask:
Why is this thing working for them?
Are there pieces of this that might work in my context, as they are?
Are there pieces of this that could be adapted to work in my context?
Your church is different. For that matter you are different. Your community is different. The culture within your church is different. Your kids are different. Your team is different. Basically everything about your ministry is different. SO… why would you try to copy what someone else is doing without any changes?
So what? So, were do we go from here? Well continue to look at and learn from other churches BUT, seek your own inspiration. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Have the best ministry YOU can have based on your gifting and on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Trust me, if you do this the result will be WAY better than if you simply try to copy what someone else is doing.