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Are you celebrating with churches or competing against?

November 8, 2013

With not against.

I remember as a kid, my Grandpa (also a pastor) telling me the reason he stopped going to pastor’s conferences. He said he grew tired of pastor’s greeting each other with the same old question: “How many are you ‘runnin’?” Immediately, every pastor felt value (or lack of value) based on their attendance numbers.

church vs. church

Are you celebrating with churches or competing against churches? With or against?

This illustration demonstrates beautifully our two options:

From John Ortberg’s When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in The Box:

“Balloon stomp is a zero-sum game. If I win, you lose, Anyone else’s success diminish my chances. I must regard everyone else as someone to overcome, someone to be pitted against.

Balloon stomp is a Darwinian contest, the survival of the fittest. Some ten-year-olds are pretty Darwinian, and they entered into the spirit of the thing vigorously. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. Some children pretended to be enjoying the game but were secretly afraid of losing. A few of the children hung shyly on the sidelines, but that didn’t help them. Their balloons were doomed just the same. The battle was over in a matter of seconds. Only one balloon was still inflated, and of course its owner was the most (secretly) disliked kid in the room. It’s hard to really win at balloon stomp.

Then a disturbing thing happened. A second class was brought in the room to play the same game, only this time it was a class of developmentally challenged children. They too were each given a balloon and the same instructions. The same signal began the game. ‘I got a sinking feeling in my midsection,’ said one of the onlookers. ‘I wanted to spare the kids the pressure of the competitive brawl.’

Only this time the game proceeded differently. The instructions were given too quickly to be grasped very well by these children; out of the confusion the one idea that sunk in was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. But instead of fighting each other off, these children got the idea that they were supposed to help one another pop balloons. So they formed a kind of ‘balloon stomp co-op.’ One boy was getting frustrated because the balloon he was going after wouldn’t hold still enough for him to pop it. So the little girl to who it was tied knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like the holder for a field-goal kicker, while the little boy stomped it flat. Big smile. Then he knelt down and held his balloon still for her to stomp. On and on it went, all the children helping one another in the Great Stomp.

And when the very last balloon was popped, everybody cheered. Everybody won.”

Students stopped keeping score against each other and starting keeping score with each other.

I love that church leaders seem to be more and more with each other.

Churches = With not against.


From → Leadership

  1. Love this illustration Mark! This is what we are supposed to do! It shouldn’t be a contest of who is winning but how can we help you!!! Love you guys and miss you but so happy the way God is using you in that”foreign land”. lol

    • Marilyn you are shining example to me of someone initiating constant encouragement to everyone you know. I’m just glad to be one of those fortunate enough to know you.

  2. Constancecom permalink

    I love it too! It is a joy to be part of the Ventura County ACTION foundation ( where our area Christians take initiative to help agencies, other churches, families and individuals in need with appropriate resources. The upcoming Christmas Shoppe outreach for needy families will provide new toys for children and teens throughout Ventura County – and the churches, businesses and service clubs work hand in hand to provide this outstanding resource.
    Working together with other churches is also in the DNA of Celebrate Recovery. Bible Fellowship Church has been privileged to help start CR in 7 other churches in our county, and we are always happy to hear of other fellowships who are looking to start a Celebrate Recovery ministry.
    Working together truly expresses the heart of Christ as we are known by our love for one another and those for whom Jesus died.

    • I agree with Connie. You are a huge reason for the unity in our church communities in Ventura County. Grateful for that and you.

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