The Comparison Trap

One of the greatest traps I’m tempted to fall in to as a church planter is the trap of comparison.  I have done my best to study models and methods from growing churches.  I’ve read books, blogs, and online articles.  I’ve attended seminars and talked to other pastors.  One thing that I’ve realized is that many of us are participating in what I once heard described as “church conference porn.”  It’s the unrealistic portrayal of something desirable.  It’s the idea that all churches should be like the megachurch.  It causes great discouragement when my church doesn’t match the bigger church down the road or that I haven’t published any books like some church planting rockstar.

God is teaching me that He has ordained my church for my community and the particular ministry that reaches them.  I shouldn’t want to be just like some other church.  My culture is different.  My congregation is different.  I’m different.  I need to be willing to be whatever God has called me to be.  I was encouraged by a great post title “A Toolbox With All Hammers” by Kent Shaffer at  I hope it encourages my fellow church planters to accept what God has ordained for you to do and who he wants you to be.

A Toolbox With All Hammers


In the big picture, a toolbox with all hammers isn’t very effective. You can hit nails, pry, and not much more. A good toolbox has hammers, wrenches, files, and screwdrivers. It has a drill, some pliers, and plenty of other tools. So why do so many churches try to be a hammer?

We each have a unique God-given calling, but many of us want to live the calling of  the ministers in the limelight. Likewise, each church has a unique God-given calling, but too many churches distract themselves by pursuing the calling of famous megachurches.

To clarify, I do think it is good to study successful churches when the principles learned are considered within the context of your church’s unique calling. And I do believe that good ministry typically grows churches. However, some of the greatest ministries have the smallest numbers. Sometimes small is needed to be effective. Sometimes huge is needed.

I recommend that you study them all. Learn from megachurches, house churches, rural churches, and the rest.

Above all else, never lose focus of staying true to your church’s purpose. If God wants you to be a hammer, be a hammer. If God wants you to be a wrench, be a wrench.

[Photo credit: dipster1]

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