Some friends honestly pushed back on the merit of sharing this obviously ridiculous controversy, so here we go.
Definitely agree this is a ridiculous story and am not trying to contribute to a negative conversation about church plants. As a church planter this is an issue that I resonate with.
I shared this because it was an interesting story and indicative of something I think all pastors have to reconcile. My high school U.S. History teacher used to say that every policy decision considered two factors: idealism and survival.
As pastors we all ideally would be proponents of a Kingdom mindset of seeing other churches and ministries thrive.
But what happens when that other ministry differs from theologically? Or in your opinion they give all Christians a bad name? Or when people in your community leave and go there? Or maybe worse when they stay and try to turn your church into a clone of the one down the road or the one that put that book out?
In a vacuum we would all say we want to be about the Kingdom. But we don’t live in a vacuum we have our own convictions about faith and practice. We also have realities like a paycheck that impacts others, particularly younger humans that look like you and share your last name.
As a planter I have done everything I can to connect with other pastors and build healthy relationships. In some of those conversations it has been clear explicitly or implicitly that they were at least leery of a new church in their backyard. And while I have never intentionally tried to take people from another church by bashing that church or making impossible promises, I have looked for partnerships with local churches and asked for that pastor’s blessing of sending people with us.
Most of our initial leaders are coming from other churches.
Hopefully one day I’ll have to deal with this tension, and when I do I need to recognize that the desire for security and survival isn’t bad. However it become destructive when we start calling it something else, manifesting into some sort of turf war that drives people away.
Understand your issues with this before you hear of a new church coming into the area. And if you are part of that new church, don’t be a jerk. Someday you’ll be on the other side of the table.