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Being Honest with your Competition

 —  February 24, 2014 — 3 Comments

Abraham Lincoln once observed, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

That’s a great concept, especially when in a free market culture we’re used to “Apple vs PC,” “Coke vs Pepsi,” “McDonalds vs Burger King,” and so on. Even in Christendom, you can find yourself consciously or unconsciously at odds with another church across town. We talk a good game about how we’re all a part of the Kingdom together, yet still feel tense when someone is missing from our row of chairs and tags themselves online in a row of chairs at another church.

Aren’t we all supposed to be serving Jesus together?

We know that, right? Maybe that’s what keeps us from actually doing it.

It’s why I’m a huge fan of what Earl Henning wrote recently on his blog. Here’s a quote:

20140223-162632“Early in my youth ministry career, I learned something kind of bizarre. I tried to connect with respected youth leaders in my area in hopes of gaining a little help from their years of wisdom. I had hoped they might take this new guy under their wing to help expand some influence in our large community of lost teens.

Instead, what I learned was that they were similar to football coaches. They had their successful ministry playbook and did their best to keep it private. No follow up emails or phone calls, no follow-through on their “Yeah man, let’s get together” after an unexpected bumping in to. It seemed that this was their home field and they weren’t about to let some small-time coach come in and make their fans switch jerseys.”

Earl Henning

Check out Earl’s wicked, cool beard. If you ever meet him, ask him for the back story to it.

Earl goes on to observe how since he’s taken the other approach and reached out to younger peers he’s seen some benefits of it:

  • Venting!: “Consider it counseling without having to lay on a couch. And honestly, who can understand you better than someone who is fighting the same battle?”
  • A community playbook: “It took me a while to get used to this, but when my local youth pal and I started to share playbooks it was amazing. We’ve shared message ideas, stage design ideas, volunteer training ideas.”
  • Power in numbers: My buddy and I have kids who go to the same schools and live in the same neighborhoods. Honestly, why shouldn’t we work together to build a mega-team of soul-winners?”

You really need to read all of what Earl offers.

3D man near red question markThat said…

  • In what ways have you felt a conscious or unconscious tension with other churches/ministries?
  • Do you sense greater “rivalry” of “churches vs churches” or “youth ministry vs youth ministry?”
  • Is it fair to assume that if you’ve invested years into a student that they shouldn’t just “up and leave” one day to go to another youth group?
  • How do you view other youth workers around your city – as a network of peers who do what you do (but everyone keeps a safe distance from) or as true co-laborers that you can share life/ministry with?

Please chime in. Let’s learn from each other on this. Thanks!


Tony Myles

Tony Myles

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Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, author, speaker, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

3 responses to Being Honest with your Competition

  1. There are 2 churches in the town I currently serve. A Methodist church and a Baptist church. We correlate with one another rarely but have learned to work together. When we have large events, we try to include each other. We have Wednesday night youth, while the other church has Sunday evening youth. This way the youth do not have to choose one over the other and they can hear the gospel proclaimed from a different vantage point which can make something click for them.

    • Tony Myles

      That’s awesome, Josh! Did you and your counterpart plan it that way, or more did you just notice it sort of worked out that way?

      • It more just worked that way. They had an established group meeting on Sundays since thay was when the minister was available. There is still some awkwardness between each ministry but that may be because I am an awkward character myself.

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